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THE PRESIDENT OF ME


My upbringing should have made me President of the United States by now. Or at least by the time I reach the age Obama was when inaugurated, which is only three years away, so there's still time.

A president should be able to relate to people from all walks of life. He should be comfortable in a suit, engaging in whatever pursuit, or at least looking at ease come photo opportunities. My mother, who hoped I'd one day run for office, bought me my first suit when I was three. I used to wear it to my father's law office, and carry a briefcase. She put me into every extracurricular she could find, and before I was old enough to take a stance, which would have been no thank you, at least some of the time. Like with cotillion, when I was 13. If you are an adolescent boy and you don't know what cotillion is, consider yourself lucky. I had it up to "here" with waltzes and minuets and pirouettes. 

I went to every type of summer camp. And of course Indian Guides, which is something like Boy Scouts, involving trips to the mountains and burnt cookies. I played most every sport under the sun, and took karate and judo and kung fu. So I could do without the secret service and put your tax dollars to better use. I learned more than one musical instrument, and took classes in public speaking and computers when screen time came in front of an unwieldy off-white box with DOS commands. I went to school with inner-city kids, with playgrounds as big as city blocks, but also with the privileged elite of Beverly Hills, where I served as class vice-president and altar boy, and the yard was a mini parking lot. Yes, there were many dings.

To complement the Sunday study of Scripture, my parents took my brothers and me to India, where we learned all about the Hindu gods and came face to face with real poverty. This of course would serve to broaden my appeal in office and make of me a man of the people. My father raised us as vegetarians before this was the fad. On weekends, time permitting (and with all the games and services there often wasn't) I'd coach the neighborhood boys and maybe even help my brothers with their homework, or at least give them my term papers to copy. You scoff, but isn't unflinching honesty what you look for in a Commander-in-Chief, or do you want another Clinton? If I am President there will be no blow jobs unless you hear about them. Oh, and we had dogs, as all presidents do.

All this before I started high school. I went to UCLA to please my parents. It was my dad's alma mater and my mom wanted a college graduate in her family. I spent a couple years with rolled up sleeves and khakis teaching adolescents and immigrants, then took a medical degree to fulfill a prediction (made in India) that there would be a doctor in the family. And there was, for about a year, until I gave it up. And I'd argue that my reluctance to settle for the status quo is what is needed in this country. The news would read: "Disagrees with current medical model with its focus on disease; declares that prevention is key." So allow me to introduce myself, and you to the next US President. But this was my mother's dream. She hoped one day I'd run, indeed she planted that idea in my head more than once. And though the soil was fertile, the seed never took.

Despite or perhaps because of this high-performance upbringing, I choose to do nothing. Which is what I always wanted. Though there is the possibility that being forced into so many activities left me pining for quiet time. Quiet time was at a premium in my adolescence, and I'd usually spend it in front of the TV. When I turned twenty I finally broke it to mom. "I'm a simple guy, Mom," I say. "I don't need a lot of money or power or fame. And I certainly don't need the exhausting career that earns them - or not, if you're Paris Hilton." But this was before Paris Hilton. This was 1993.

And yet the upbringing I had, which was atypical for most Americans in the 80s and early 90s, is now par for the course. I don't play golf, but the analogy rings true. My neighbor boasts of signing up his 8-year-old for various camps and language classes. Recently when they went to Hawaii on vacation he found a reputable day care so their son would not have idle time should he and his wife choose to go out for a quiet romantic dinner. I miss the days when kids were left alone in hotel rooms to raid the snack bar and surf pay-per-view porn. Why not? I know what you're saying: Idleness is the devil's playground. This may be true, but it is also when inspiration strikes. Now there is no inspiration, because there is no leisure, and when a kid has a moment to just be, he watches TV or plays video games. I excelled in whatever pursuit my parents enrolled me in, and so they enrolled me in more. If I had been like my brother Justin, who did decidedly less excellently, they'd have let me just be. But Justin just watched TV. 

It's funny. Of all the things I was made to do as a boy, I do none of them anymore. No more martial arts or team sports. No more church or Sunday school. The things that take up my time in adult life - running and cooking and gardening and reading - I found on my own. It makes me wonder what other fun things I would have discovered if I had been left to my own devices. But this is neither here nor there. I think a child's duty is to please his parents, and if this means going along with whatever after-school activity they put him in, that's fine. So much the better if he makes the All-Star team. Parents sacrifice a lot to raise a kid. The least a child can do is behave. So I was the do-right kid. The good boy. But should we have to earn our liberty so strenuously? Now I spend all my time at my childhood home. You could say that this should have been my birth right. That even had I not pleased my parents, I should have been allowed to just stay at home and listen to the wind blow, which is one of my favorite things to do these days. Yes you get to know yourself by interacting with others, and like a perfect president I am at home with all walks of life, and comfortable at parties. Indeed I often get invited to get-togethers precisely because I make others feel welcome, even when I am not the host. But parties are pretty rare, because many people are uptight and don't know how to have a good time unless it involves copious amounts of alcohol, and TV.

I will never be President. But I have learned to govern myself. It's a lot easier than running a country, because there are no naysayers, and when conflicting opinions all arise in your own mind, it's easy to achieve reconciliation. Making up with yourself is a lot like masturbation, and feels just as good.


The other day I was researching Turiya. This is a Sanskrit term for the fourth state, a concept popular in Eastern mysticism. Turiya is not waking, dreaming or dreamless sleep, which are the three states of consciousness commonly experienced. It underlies these three. It is pure consciousness. And it can best be experienced by quieting the mind, sitting still, and waiting in eager anticipation. One Hindu Swami puts it thusly: "The man who sits by calming the mind, who does nothing at all physically, is the most active man in the whole world; whereas that man who runs hither and thither and who is always very busy, does nothing in substance. This may be paradoxical to you. Very few can comprehend this."


I know many people who fill their days by running around and appearing super busy. Work work work. They're like so many White Rabbits of Alice in Wonderland. Muttering inwardly, "Oh dear, I shall be too late." Yes, late for your own funeral if you keep up the frenzy. You'll cause your own premature demise, and won't even be mentally present when it's your time to die. The brain is an organ of digestion, but the food is experiences, and the more we distract ourselves with things to do, people to see, and places to go, the more we get preoccupied, and the more we are kept up at night worrying. Unless you have sleep apnea, or drink more than two alcoholic beverages, which does it for me. 

See, wherever you go, there you are. I told this to a friend of mine who is in recovery from addiction, and he says that this is the AA slogan, or one of them. I am not that into slogans but this one I stand behind. What's all the rush when the object of your search, you, is with you all the time? We are human beings, not human doings. How's that for a slogan. Yes we have arms and legs to move through space and play sports and get girls and (insert your favorite pastime here), but the consciousness is where it's really at. Existence is such a rush. Nothing could happen in your life without you there to perceive it. Can you believe that you exist? Could you imagine not existing? When I think of my own existence, one thing is sure: I am eternal. I will always be. Not the Adam me. But the consciousness associated with this body, which I propose is how we all should refer to ourselves. "How do you do. Friends call me Adam. As for who I really am: I'm the awareness that attends Adam's every step. When Adam's time is done, I still am. I always am!" Pretty heavy, hey dude?

We don't know how long we have on this earth. My friend's father died last night. He was only in his 60s and passed suddenly in his sleep. The man wasn't in perfect health, but he had full command of his faculties and if you saw him you'd think him the picture of robust virility. I only saw Louis about a dozen times in the three years we knew each other, and yet how I loved the man. He had such a hearty laugh, kind eyes, and he cared so much for his family. He will be missed.

It shows you how quickly things can change. And if you don't prepare for death at least a little each day, by focusing on what's eternal, spending time with your consciousness in quiet reflection, you may get blindsided. I hope it doesn't happen, so I'm warning you. It's arguably harder to lose a relative who dies suddenly than it is to lose one after a protracted bout of illness, like my mother who battled cancer for years before passing on. At least I had time to mentally prepare. What about my friend? So I advise that you prepare for your loved ones' death, and your own, each and every day of your life. Death is not an end but a transition. For whom does the bell toll, it tolls for thee! With all this talk of the presidency, I bet you didn't see that coming. So I'll get back to my point.

Despite my extensive involvement in extracurriculars, as a boy I never did know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Doing something for a paycheck seemed a waste of time, much too mercenary, and no career I knew of appealed even remotely to me. Every job out there already exists! And for a man whose mother raised him to do "what has never been done before," only something unprecedented will cut it. The perfect job for me (ignoring the oxymoron, for work doesn't seem to fit with my ideal world), but if the perfect job exists, it has yet to be invented. Which means it doesn't exist, and I am before my time.  But I am in good company. There was no calculus before Leibniz discovered it along with Isaac Newton working independently a country away. Hippocrates was the first physician. The Indian rishis invented or discovered metaphysics. When you think that for any given job there was a time when it didn't exist, I don't sound so ridiculous in waiting for the perfect position to come around. Because the ones already in existence suck. Most jobs require you to specialize. The mathematician sees his verbal skills atrophy. So does the baseball player, who speaks in cliches. I like to remain well-rounded, a man for all seasons. Besides, almost every form of employment involves a lot of sitting, which is anathema to me. Even professional athletes. In sports such as baseball and football, not only the reserves but also many of the stars spend the majority of the game on the bench. And orchestral musicians. But I could never carry a tune. 

The word itself is Greek. Anathema. Had I lived in ancient Greece, I'd have been down with philosophizing, but philosophy is a dead art, if also a science. Every major ontological argument is thousands of years old. As far as theories of existence go, there's nothing new under the sun. I'd never find anybody to pay me to read metaphysics, but if I did, I'd do so while getting a tan.

In fact the only job that ever appealed to me, other than writing, which usually doesn't pay much, I just heard about the other day, and it doesn't pay anything at all. Watching Ancient Aliens, which by the way used to be my mother's favorite show, I learned about succubi. These otherworldly creatures take the form of female enchantresses to appear to men in dreams and steal their semen for the purposes of procreation. The goal is some hybrid race involving earthlings and extraterrestrials. If you believe Ancient Aliens, which I don't, that's where the future of humanity lies. And mom, bless her heart, used to say that I should sign up to be a sperm donor. I don't know where she got the idea. Perhaps she believed I had superior genetics. Obviously, because I was her son. This was after she gave up on my running for president. I don't think they allow guys who are not in the habit of wearing shoes to even set foot in the White House. 


So succubi, here I come. Literally, if you visit me in my dreams. I'll never be the President of the US of A, but I'll always be President of ME. And in being the father of the master race, I'll be doing something that has never been done before, at least not since Adam, which is probably why I was given the first man's name. And I'll also be honoring my mum's memory. After giving me life, and all those camps and classes besides, she more than deserves it. Sure do miss you, Mama.


Of course, you can never do what's never been done before and be sure that's it's not being done by another person. Just ask our, er, calculators? I'd just as soon plant my seed in someone else.

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