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Excerpts from my upcoming memoir, Liberation!

From my upcoming memoir, Liberation!

Swaths of sunlight escaped the clouds to bathe our small gathering in yellow warmth.  Next to us waited a pinewood box.  Inside, Linda was naked, wrapped in linen, still cool from refrigeration.  Nine of us would carry her a short distance to Woodlawn cemetery’s Eternal Meadow, where her body would organically decompose to become part of Santa Monica’s natural wildlife.  


I wrapped my left hand tightly around the pall bearers’ pole on my side. The sanded surface of its smooth but unvarnished wood scraped my fingers and warmed my palm.  The pole felt solid and true, no nonsense.  I hefted my end.

From my upcoming memoir, Liberation!

Upstairs, in a quiet room at home, I sat cross-legged on a purple, crescent-shaped cushion with my eyes closed. Silently, I repeated this assertion into the abyss of my mind: Not two. 

I had been practicing the disciplines of Kriya Yoga — a fairly rigorous system of meditation, contemplation, fasting, chanting, prayer, and study — for several years. Kriya Yoga asserts that in reality, there is only one being.  Rather than me, as one being, and God as something else, Yoga says we are identical.  We are not two.  We are one. In other words, I am a spark of the holy fire, not separate from it. 

As I had every day for years, I peered intently into the inner recesses of my private mind, and tried to make myself disappear, or merge into silence. 

Fom my upcoming memoir, Liberation!

Near the end of fourth grade at St. Norbert’s Catholic School, I had a funny idea.  Our desks were aligned in perfect rows and columns.  Seats were assigned alphabetically.  From my seat in the back row — my last name is West — I could garner the attention of the T through Z kids.  I thought I’d do a silent impersonation of my teacher, Miss Crowe (we called her Crowface behind her back).  

I stood in the little aisle between the wooden desks and planted my feet.  Hands on hips, with finger wagging, I mimicked her scolding gestures just right.  I scrunched up my face to imitate her scowl.  It was pretty funny, so of course the back row started laughing.  Miss Crowe, who was facing the blackboard, whipped around and caught me in the act.  I don’t know if she recognized herself, but she sent me to the principal.  

It was not my first classroom sin. My habit of cracking jokes in class often got me black marks on the classroom wall chart. I was trying to be like Daddy.  In my family, jokes were a respected art form, and Daddy was the master.

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