December 17, 2012

Tips from a Gentleman—on Transitioning.

Love and Life Advice for Humans

Today we begin with a confession. (Wait, except first, here’s a soundtrack to celebrate belatedly.)

My friends, the truth is that this is a bi-weekly column, theoretically delivered fresh every-other Tuesday. As you may (or more likely may not) have noticed, more than seven full weeks have passed since the last installment was published. For this I offer my sincere apologies. Such tardiness is evidence that I remain less reliable than I hope to be. I’ll do better.

Anyone out there ever been in transition? Then perhaps you understand how when life jackknives, short-term tasks distract from and derail higher aspirations. Finding a fresh abode, adjusting to a different gig, and handling certain interpersonal circumstances are examples of time-sensitive attention-hogs. You have to say and do stuff now or else the wheels come off and all is needlessly lost.

These transitional moments are really more of a track switch than assured derailment, but the process often occurs after dark… in the rain… when the stoker has been at battle with the bottle, and the switchman is asleep and dreaming. Minor errors made at these major convergence points might cause a spectacular wreck, a head-on collision between the locomotive of self-determination and the caboose of destiny.

Forgive the incessant railroad metaphors; I have been well-trained since youth to learn lessons from trains.

The lesson here?

Diligent patience. Thomas is a true Karma yogi. Although his disdain for the mean cars is less than noble, Thomas does his duty, completes the action to the best of his ability, and allows the fruits to ripen on their own merit.

Thomas’ situation is obviously oversimplified, as real life features ambiguity, nuance and confusion about how to even choose the correct course, much less navigate it. This is where any form of contemplative practice is priceless.

For me, prayer is simply the sincere and repeated focus on one’s own personal concept of the highest good. The mere impulse to ask for guidance is enough, so long as you remember to receive the response. In my experience, the path reveals itself in time, and is always already obvious, even if I don’t care to accept it quite yet.

Photo: Noel Hankamer

These life-path junctions provide the opportunity to implement changes that facilitate ease and efficiency in service of that towards which we most aspire. For me, the complications of this most recent upheaval are far from exhausted, but I am already experiencing profound relief now that I am embracing the fresh potentials. I literally feel lighter as I release all the old resistance and life opens. As we’ll discuss, openness may be our salvation.

Before we can move on, I have to publicize the fact that elephantgentleman at gmail dot com has received exactly zero emails since October 12, 2012. If no one is willing to share their stimuli, then we’re stuck waiting for me to imagine something to ramble about. This will always happen eventually, but I’m far more likely to say things if you say something first. Now you know that about me.

Without further ado, here are some questions I made up:

Q: I just moved to a new town and am looking for a living situation. I met this girl, and I really like her so far, and she said it would be cool with her if I wanted to split the rent for the remaining six months of her lease. It’s a one bedroom. Any thoughts?

No. Noooo nononononononono. Nooooo. No. No. No. No, don’t do it. Seriously, stop where you are and take two steps back. Take three deep breaths. Yeah, fill your belly first. Exhale patiently. Wait for it…

By now the haloed friend on your shoulder should be strongly advising you to consider this decision very, very carefully. And to proceed only with the utmost caution.

photo: jandazzatron

Only if you are beyond-a-doubt, 100 percent sure that you and this lady are super compatible would I recommend this move, and even then, I wouldn’t recommend it. You’ve known her for what, a month? Which is to say, you don’t know her. So why ruin a potentially glorious romance by moving in together?

Regardless of what Craigslist may lead you to believe, there are better options that will grant freedom, efficient integration into your new town and hold space for this relationship to blossom (or not).

First and foremost, couchsurf. Even if (perhaps especially) you already have your own place, join in building a true global community and couchsurf. It’s by far the most thorough, efficient way to get to know any place on the planet new to you. You will meet the locals, other newbies and the tourists. It’s easy, fun and safe. Do it.

Try some time at the local hostel. Or, for those also seeking a shift in perspective, find the nearest ashram and pursue a sattvic existence.

Bike or walk around in search of “For Rent” signs. This is the only way to find the special hidden spots without possessing the magic dragon key of real estate—which is, to already know the right person.

Have you ever lived alone? Trust me, try it. That independence can be great for relationships.

Or, move into a big house with a bunch of people, preferably of mixed gender. Lots of times you can get a good deal catching the last three to six months of some roommate moving out, and who knows, you might find family.

In summary, don’t sign a lease longer than six months, do not acquire a new pet, and do not move in with the first girl you met when you got to town.

Q: For once in my life, I am happy in a stable, committed relationship. Despite the contentment I am experiencing, I still find myself scoping out all the sexy people I see. Am I a bad person? If so, what is wrong with me and how can I fix it?

My friend welcome to having a human body. Which is to say, it’s nothing but the atomic dog in you. Listen, George Clinton knows…


“Why must I feel like that? Why must I chase the cat? Nothing but the dog in me…”

There’s nothing wrong with you, but stay focused. How much enjoyment, ultimately, are you going to get from some impulsive escapade relative to the scope of love available in a true partnership? Noticing beauty is no crime, but don’t let it blind you.

Does this person you’re with really mean so much as you suggest? Great. Perfect. Now prove it. I’m not telling you to overcompensate and try to cover yourself by over zealously committing to your partner, but have a spine, and be hyper-vigilant in maintaining your integrity.

Society condemns adultery with good cause. If there’s someone else you can’t resist, there is truthfully nothing wrong with that, but it means you need to reconsider your relationship status first. This is a healthy thing to do on a regular basis, regardless.

Indulge a fantasy. Next time you catch yourself in a “distracted” moment, don’t just shut it down, but see where it goes. Visualize your way through the sequence. What ideally unfolds? Be as detailed as possible. Include all the great qualities you project onto this person, but also be sure to project their foibles, and yours. Get super realistic with it. Just like 48 FPS 3-D, I suspect this practice will be extremely revealing, perhaps to the point of revulsion.

I suspect that if you are really as cozy in your circumstances as you claim, you could probably speak honestly with your partner about your shameful lusting. (Haha, just kidding. The expression of sexual energy is a sacred pursuit, an impulse towards wholeness for which we need feel no shame).

Openness is attractive in so many ways, I imagine the ongoing conversation could even bring you two closer together. It’s something everyone deals with, and by admitting it you give others permission to lower their guard as well, and this is when the magic happens. Just remember to tell them, “Baby, you the dog-catcher.”

Q. What should I get my boyfriend for Christmas?

I don’t know your boyfriend. If you don’t know what to get him, get to know him better. For example, you could simply ask. I understand how this might be considered a radical tactic, but I’d wager he’ll at least let a hint or two leak.

Photo: Kevin Dooley

So, since you asked, here is a hypothetical list, in no particular order, that any person ever could want:

– Merino wool socks and Michael Jordan underwear

A bicycle (with towing capability + car rack)

2013 pass to the National Parks

– A computing device (and a print-maker)

Grandma’s Wooden Tooth

– A massage (by you, or a professional, depending on your budget)

– A personal year book

A good touk

– A good cord

– New-Age bed sheets

– A membership supporting [his] community radio

Dragons in a Bottle

That is all. Happy Holidays everyone. Be kind to each other. Stay safe out there.



Ed: Brianna B.

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