Sometimes Truth is Stranger than Fiction….
The Transcendental Delegate
The political conventions are over and I am glad they are. They remind me of a beauty contest for very unattractive people directed by Leni Riefenstahl. The only thing worse than the conventions are the ensuing elections – not because I am particularly political (but I do vote and encourage all of my readers to do the same) but because election years take me back to the year 2000 when I was visited by a Transcendental Delegate. At the time my practice was located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Mount Washington, a canyon community known as the home of the Self Realization Fellowship, The Builders of the Adytum and many other esoteric organizations.
The following story is true. A few changes have been made out of respect for the memory of the incidents and people described herein.
If we remember our history, then we know in that particular year, Los Angeles hosted the Democratic Convention featuring the ill-fated Gore/Lieberman ticket. About two weeks prior to the convention, I was contacted by a gentleman from New York City who said he would be visiting Los Angeles as a Delegate to the Convention and that during his stay in LA, he would be interested in procuring my services. We spoke at length about his interests in Tantra and other forms of spirituality. As a stockbroker, he held a very high profile, high pressure position with a very well know brokerage firm. and the fact that he was chosen to be a delegate for the convention only served to lend even more to his sense of gravitas. It was obvious that he took the responsibility of being a delegate with the upmost seriousness. He liked the fact that my Temple was in close proximity to the location of the convention (Mt Washington is one of LA’s best kept secrets in terms of locale and beauty). But his greatest concern was the aspect of privacy and discretion. Being who he was I am sure that a spa on Hollywood Boulevard was out of the question. I assured him that he would be visiting a quiet bucolic venue where he would be able to temporarily escape from all the craziness surrounding the convention and the pressures of his job back in NYC.
On the appointed day of our assignation I waited on the front deck of my home for my visitor to arrive. The convention had kicked off the night before and it was fraught with controversy and violence. There was the controversy surrounding the hundreds of stray dogs near the convention center that were rounded up and destroyed and then there were the usual suspects who were rioting and setting garbage cans ablaze in order to prove their point. It was a pity they didn’t suffer the fate as those poor dogs. To add ‘fuel to the fire’, that same evening the ubiquitous Jay Leno cracked the following during his ’Tonight Show’ monologue ‘Well folks, the Democratic Convention is in town, LA is ready and so are all the hookers’.
Finally I heard a car pull up outside my front gate and even though I couldn’t exactly see who it was because of the tall bougainvillea covering the entrance, I was pretty sure it was him, so I went to open the gate to let him in. Sure enough it was a Yellow Cab and out from it emerged a vision that had to be seen to be believed: This guy was decked out in full convention drag which included the following:
~A straw boaters hat with a Gore/Lieberman banner, festooned with balloons and tinsel
~A garish red white and blue sash with the name of his State (New York) in bright bold letters.
~Hie was nicely dressed in a suit and tie but his jacket was completely covered with party buttons and ribbons with of course, Gore/Lieberman on it.
~He was carrying a convention ‘goodie bag’ that was carrying a horn because it made an obnoxiously inadvertent squeak as he emerged from the car.
So much for discretion….
It took every muscle in my face to not let my jaw drop agape at the sight of this apparition. As I tried to force a smile, I nervously glanced up to the house across the street where I caught sight of my neighbor, Mark, glaring down in disapproving silence from the second story window of his house. He stood there in shocked disbelief for what appeared to be an eternity. Until he finally shook his head as he slowly turned and walked way from the window.
I had a sinking feeling that Mark had watched Jay Leno’s monologue the night before as well.
But back to my visitor.
As he walked towards me from the cab, his face lit up with a smile of recognition. I choked down a loud giggle and welcomed him to my home. It wasn’t his fault that he didn’t have time to change on his way back from the ‘office’! We went into my home and prior to the the session beginning, he regaled me with all of the political meanings behind the various pins and sashes he was sporting. I was especially amused by one particular pin which showed a Democratic Donkey doing a Republican Elephant doggy style. How prosaic. He even gave me a goody bag of my own, full of all sorts of cute pins and signs to display on my front yard/car etc. But I don’t want to judge the poor guy unfairly., Obviously this was a major milestone for him and I am sure he needed to take some time out for himself. The session went very well, we discussed his interest with the impermanence of life and how kundalini helped to balance and bring about acceptance of whatever was inevitable. It was over all it was a very satisfying session according to him and I would concur.
Once the session arrived to its conclusion, it was time for him to return to the reality of the electoral process. He called for a cab to come pick him up and return him to a scheduled luncheon at the Hotel Figueroa hosted by non- other than Congressman Barney Frank!. (For those of you who don’t know who he is, Barney Frank was the first openly gay elected representative in U.S. history.) We sat and chatted on my deck while we waited for the taxi to arrive. He mentioned that after the luncheon he was then off to a meeting with the Log Cabin Republicans (the gay branch of the Republican Party-really) at their offices in West Hollywood and did I know how to get to West Hollywood from the Hotel Figueroa. I replied that perhaps Barney Frank would be the better person to ask.
After a good long time had passed, we were still chatting on the deck and still no taxi; a call to the cab company revealed that the driver was lost and would be late in arriving. The news came as no surprise, Mt Washington was a labyrinth of narrow winding roads and my street was no exception. My visitor began to express concern that he would miss his lunch with Congressman Frank and the all- important follow-up with the Log Cabin Republicans. Downtown Los Angeles was not far from my home so I offered to give him a ride back. Being that security would be very tight around the convention area, I couldn’t guarantee that he could be dropped off the door of the Hotel Figueroa but I could get him as close as possible. Deal!. We hopped into my little Ford Fiesta and off we went. After a few minutes driving, it was obvious we were approaching the Convention site because of the increasingly large numbers of National Guards milling about with their machine guns in tow, protecting the barricades that blocked the streets leading to the Center. Once we approached the first barricade I pulled over and we said our goodbyes. Being that I was once a resident of New York myself he gave me his business card and said that if I was ever back in NYC etc, etc… I glanced down at the card and it revealed that he worked for a company called Cantor Fitzgerald located at One World Trade Center.
The significance of the information on that business card came thundering down on me like a ton of bricks that fateful day of September 11th almost a year and a half later. It didn’t dawn on me for a few days. Since I was living in L.A. at the time almost everyone I knew had been directly affected by the event. In fact there was even a ‘game’ called ‘Six Degrees of 9/11’ patterned after the other one ’Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’ . It would take too long for me to name all of the people I knew who were killed in the attacks. Having lived on both coasts only doubled the loss. I truly believe that it was the overwhelming loss from that horrible day that triggered my decision to leave Los Angeles for good.
So try to imagine my complete shock when I was straightening out some papers and I came across his card. At first I hoped and prayed that he had survived, I no longer had his cell number or email because that was back in the day that when you switched phone contracts or email servers, your data did not.
Calling the number on the card only gave me a disconnected number. So as the tragedy of the fate of the Cantor Fitzgerald employees began to unfold in the news, it became obvious that the poor soul had perished in the ensuing conflagration of the burning towers. The fact was confirmed once the company had set up a memorial website honoring its fallen victims.
It is painful to think about his ghastly fate and to be distraught for the terrifying final moments of his life. Even though I had made fun of his ridiculous attire in light of his concern for ‘discretion’, ultimately he was a human being with a beautiful soul, no better no worse, just a loss of potential for a life so violently interrupted. I hope that in those final moments that he was able to go into the stillness that we experienced during our time together. That stillness that he said he said he would disappear into during times of stress and confusion. Knowing that in the eternal stillness where there is no ‘I’, no ‘you’. Stillness of being one with everything. To be a Transcendental Delegate.
For more information regarding my practice please visit my website: universaltantra.org
Thank you for taking the time to read this post.