In or Out of the Political Closet?
Once upon a time, when I was blogging twice a week as creator of Spiritual Workout, I penned a piece titled “I Keep Coming Out.” I just knew that after a few years, it was time to come out as homeless. I know that sounds dramatic and while I don’t ever use the h-word to describe the circumstances of my life (in which I went, quite unceremoniously, from living happily in a home I owned to living precariously without one, penniless — circa 2008 and that global financial meltdown thingie), it was a fact around which I danced. I was mostly in New York and San Francisco/Oakland/Berkeley, offering weekly Spiritual Workout for Entrepreneurs classes and workshops, plus birthing The Consciousness Company and otherwise going full steam ahead with catapulting it all into the world — not from the cushy, self-financed runway I had assiduously planned but, instead, from a deep, dark ditch of financial ruin and emotional upheaval. (I’m nothing if not flexible.) The business could pop at any moment, the situation would right itself, so answering anodyne questions about where I lived in passing conversations with people I likely wouldn’t see again was not a wise investment of my precious time and energy.
But the living-nowhere condition, which I always believed would be ultra-temporary had definitely become indefinite. The calculus had changed and now it felt burdensome to dance around the truth of it for any reason. I had become somewhat adept at being home-free (better, yes?) and it was fun to engage with people’s reactions. Well, yes, but where do you live? Nowhere. So wait, all your stuff is in your car right now? Yeah, pretty much. And you’re just doing these classes and everything? Smoke and mirrors, baby. Is it hard? I sleep every night in a warm, comfortable, cozy bed, I’d say, offering an abbreviated version of my intention. Verbatim. And I’d always brag about being the freest man they knew.
Coming out as home-free was a walk in the park compared to my first coming out — the regular, boring, original way — as gay. I was in my early 30’s and had been married to and divorced from a woman. (I’m the last to know everything.) My journey from closeted to out, spanning two years, was both archetypal and uniquely personal — the way of things. It’s really not complicated, it’s just a question of one’s willingness to be truthful with oneself and then, perhaps, with others. There was no way I could or would have lived in that closet for very long, I just needed to be sure. I was betting that coming out followed by never mind would never work. Coming out required a willingness to risk some relationships, for sure, cookie-cutter stuff. It’s much like forgiveness, if you ask me, something we do for ourselves.
The old consciousness was equivocal about truth — you might want to give it a try, it said. The new consciousness, of course, demands it.
In between coming out as gay and coming out as homeless, I realized I had to come out as spiritual. I’d left the corporate world to become a psychotherapist and concurrent with those studies I’d learned about being a spiritual being having a human experience and all of the concepts that now make up my personal practice — and all of my work. I used “the spiritual stuff” in my psychotherapy practice for a while, but didn’t really call it that until I decided I no longer wanted to operate under the governance of the State of California and its Board of Behavioral Sciences in its Department of Consumer Affairs. Breaking free from that and calling my work Spiritual Workout was a fraught decision. I’d come from the world of marketing and I went back and forth for a protracted period about whether or not to call Spiritual Workout, Spiritual Workout. None of the marketing folk I ever consulted about it — and this was 20 years ago — were supportive, believing it would turn off too many people. But all I could do was listen to inspiration, which never wavered. It is what it is and to call it anything else would be to separate my Self from that truth. It would attract who it was meant to attract, which also meant it was time for me to be out spiritually. It was, for example, time to share certain beliefs I had ascribed to and the lens through which I was now seeing things. I believe we live more than once. I believe hustling is over. I believe nothing is random.
The gay and home-free outings were, to my mind, quite personal. They rendered me at peace in my inner life and at ease with those in my outer life. But when it came to my work, that was different. That was about publicly purveying a service and charging money for it. It was work that encouraged others to cultivate their own spirituality, which I could only do if I was super comfortable with my own. Only after several years did I realize that many of my clients weren’t quite out about their own spirituality in their personal lives.
Which brings us to whether or not we are out about being conscious politics practitioners, as it were. Of course, I “have” to be out while you, dear reader, do not. As such, I readily espouse beliefs like compassion is intrinsic to conscious politics and we can most assuredly create a new and thriving political reality in America. I attach my name to “conscious politics.” I am out about my political optimism. The old consciousness was equivocal about truth — you might want to give it a try, it said. The new consciousness, of course, demands it. So for as long as we humans are living in between, I won’t be pushing or pulling anyone out of any closets, not with my history. I will, however, be doing my level best to entice and encourage all of the coming-outs to come.