Gurus


Gurus, how I love to loathe thee… They are a virulent force on all social media, utilizing platitudes and photos of streams and forests, vandalizing them with glib and meaningless words. Do you want to be a winner? Follow them! A warrior? Do the same. They will hypnotize and deprogram you. They will use the collective energy of theĀ  people gathered to make you succumb if plucked from the audience. You may very well do things you wouldn’t ordinarily. The worst of them play on people’s discontent and lack of self-esteem in order to reel them in. Once at the seminar or ‘free talk,’ they will push hard to up sell their books, programs and future events. It won’t end until the end of time itself.

I have had these characters on the periphery of my life, tap, tap, tapping; trying to get my attention. Apparently, they can make crooked spines straight, reverse heart disease and set mind’s right. They can make all your dreams come true. It is not only insulting but ineffective. Somebody very close to me spent thousands on books, programs and seminars, and tried to cajole me to do the same. Sadly, this individual has nothing to show for all this expense and effort, and their already fragile mental health has suffered even more. I have had friends-intelligent people with beautiful lives follow particular gurus around the circuit as though they were rock stars. I have known tragedy to befall some, and the gurus have been strangely silent when it happens. They have already moved their circus onto another field.

I heard that a particular guru learned of a participant who had been sexually abused as a child by a family member. He thought it a sterling idea to get her to talk about it, then picked three strangers from the audience to be her ‘uncles.’ I wonder what happened after the show. What trauma had been revisited and stirred? This guru insisted that winners don’t have pasts, at least not ones that should in any way be acknowledged. I vehemently disagree. I remained sane by not only acknowledging my skeletons, but getting them out of the closet for a samba.

Walking barefoot through hot coals doesn’t make you more capable; it is how you conduct yourself everyday. I know a dear soul who grew up in an orphanage. She cleaned houses for a living, and dreamed of one day opening a book store. She scrounged and saved for over twenty years, and sure enough, her dream came true, and the fine establishment of Di’s Book Exchange came to be. I know a gentleman who has lived with mental illness all his adult life. Professional help, the right medication, good nutrition and exercise all playing a pivotal part in his wellbeing. A slight wind can tip him, but its the measures he takes each day that steer him.

The seminars the gurus are fond of, bring together a spectacle of sound, lighting, fist pumps and the shouting of core words, not just for effect, but to flood the body with feel-good hormones. Sadly, these wear off, and one ends up chasing the next fix. The recent conversation regarding the fellow in the above footage, and his response to the Me Too movement, has to be seen to be believed. Pretty women are virtually unemployable? He used his height and strength to intimidate the woman featured. In my time, I have had many, many gurus approach me. Some have stated that they can ‘fix’ my life, and make me a winner. I drolly laugh, and respond that I am already a winner, simply by merit of surviving a huge amount of crap. Like my lovely friend in her book store, I chip away, day in and out to educate my child, clothe and feed her and I, keep myself healthy, put aside money for her future, see my friends and make grand plans. It starts with a drink of water or a dollar coin. Success is in the small steps, not grand gestures in front of thousands of people intoxicated with the spectacle they are attending.

Sound-bites and gurus should be avoided if at all possible, and futures created from one simple step, rather than treading through hot coals or spending thousands on seminars. Particularly if the guru leads you to have to spend time in therapy afterwards…

 

 

Advertisements

#MeToo


I came across the following article about an exhibition of clothing that survivor’s of sexual assault wore the day of the crime. It seared itself into my psyche, and whilst I found it confronting, the biggest emotion I felt was rage; unadulterated rage. Anger that the public may require visual representations to even attempt to understand what the victim had endured.

Let me tell you a story… Once upon a time, there was a fourteen year old girl, living in Sydney during a typical Aussie summer. A grown man hovered, and she remarked to anyone who would listen that she found his attentions “creepy.” Upon discovering her alone one evening, he mentioned that if he were her, he would make sure that he wore jeans and a long top wherever she went, especially if he was around.  It was said as though it were a warning, and chilled her to the bone. It stuck in her brain, and she found herself wearing both jeans and long top as she prepared for a picnic, despite it being a heatwave. He wasn’t supposed to be coming, but at the last moment, hopped on the bus. Once they had reached their destination, the girl looked about, envious at other young women dressed in shorts and singlet tops, and angry she felt that she had to cover up in the extreme heat. The end result of the picnic was that she was raped. Her exhibit would be jeans and a long top, covered with dirt and sweat… My exhibit. Not only did the adults present not save me, neither did my choice of outfit.  Sexual violence is about power and control, not about what one is wearing. It never was. 

I have known many girls, whom at puberty, have felt uncomfortable with leering strangers and commentary from familiar people about their changing bodies, and have thus worn shapeless jumpers and cargo pants, even in the height of summer. It breaks my heart. It reminds me of  that time… When I see young people in shorts and singlets in hot weather, I rejoice. They are free, their skin able to cool itself, unencumbered. 

I have watched with dismay as the truth about Harvey Weinstein comes under not only a spotlight, but a search-light. The truth, at last! It can’t be hidden forever, no more than your dress can be blamed for a crime committed against you. I leave with the following from the sage Emma Thompson.