It has been an interesting Memorial Day weekend. I have been sifting through different phases of my life and reevaluating how I have perceived what has occurred. Yesterday on a walk a powerful truth I have recognized for a long time anchored in on another level. In all of our lives there is a huge laundry list of things we were saved from. We may not have seen them that way at the time, but what we think we want, and what may best support for our soul’s evolution can be two different worlds.
I had never been on Lakeside school’s north Seattle campus. For those of you outside of Washington, Lakeside is the most elite private school in the state. Both Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the founders of Microsoft graduated from there in the early seventies. The cost to attend (about 28k a year) is nothing compared to East Coast prep schools, but by our Northwest standards it is an accomplishment to graduate from their rigorous program. The campus is beautiful and on my walk I considered how it was one of the paths not taken in my life. I begged my mother to send me there, but luckily she did not succumb to my adolescent yearnings.
Lakeside is an external representation of some parts of me that have always had a draw to tradition and propriety in an old school, preppy way. It may have made more sense if I grew up in a conservative region where people called elders Ma’am and Sir, but I did not. I grew up in the least churched area of the country with baby boomer, question authority, artist parents, and somehow a Martha Stewart, Junior League, Lilly Pulitzer lifestyle still called. My family is well-educated, but there is not any big, old money in our clan. If there was a financial flag to fly, it would be much more Yuppie from my mother’s contemporary design, international travel, and gourmet food lifestyle. I seem to have some Alex P. Keaton tendencies in a family of creative mavericks. I am politically extremely liberal, but there is this classic Talbots style I have always been drawn to. This is actually one of the greatest polarities in my psyche, the wild woman priestess who works nude and alone painted in graffiti tunnels, and the educated, proper, homemaker who is still drawn to a life-long marriage, a man in a nice suit, and a beautiful home. I did try to perpetuate this societally supported dream when I got married, but the universe was not having it. When my husband Chris died thirteen years ago I had to look at the cracks in my psyche from trying to ignore the other soul parts that needed expression.
When I consider why I was/am drawn to a culture that has so many constrictions and prejudices I am still not really sure. I have wondered if my Leo aspects see it as the American version of royalty, but that only seems to be part of it. It may also have something to do with drinking the cultural Kool-Aid that claims if you have money, prestige, and status then you will be safe, good, and above reproach. Our stock options did not keep Chris from dying at 37, but it did make things more comfortable as he declined. None of this discussion denies that access to support and resources can make some parts of life much easier, but we need to unpack these cultural delusions in order to transmute their power. We live in a time of horrifying social and racial injustices, and we need to get real about the costs of these ingrained spells about power and value that we have all been raised in.
I still have a knee-jerk part of my psyche that sometimes sees a fancy car and thinks their life must be better than mine. When I notice the reaction, I refocus from that thought and consider that there is an enormous chance that it is not true. I have found personally and from observing others that often the more money and things one has, the more there is to track and the more anxiety there can be about losing it. Having invested everything I have in my unorthodox career I have the least physical assets I have had since my twenties, and I am the calmest I have ever been.
When my family went on an East Coast art tour some years ago we went to Phillip Johnson’s Glass House. You gather in New Canaan, Connecticut to be shuttled to the design genius’ property, and it was the preppiest place I have ever been. Stores filled with beautiful linens and accessories for the home, exclusive little dress shops, and even the Church of the modernized WASP aesthetic was there, Ralph Lauren. I had to buy a pink and green stripped rugby shirt from a model perfect young man named Finny Akers that was supposedly also purchased by Russell Simmons. What I energetically noticed was that the locals were not content people. I could feel their anxiety about trying to keep up with the rigid expectation of their tribe. The women were self-conscious about their age and weight, the men were anxious about making enough money to support the five million dollar home, and the kids needed to excel in every arena to follow the family traditions of success. The amount of pressure, fear, and isolation I felt was terrifying. I realized that by being kicked out of that culture when Chris died I had been set free. I was saved from my own insecurities and judgements that would have tormented me if I was in the “thinner is better” world. I still love beautiful things, and a clean-cut man in a nice suit is a good thing, but all of the striving and external signs of power were not where I was destined to be. I continue unpack what parts of luxury are authentic to my soul compared to the external programing that massive accumulation is the highest value we can strive for.
When you look back over your own life, are there some areas where you realize divine intervention saved you from that relationship, career choice, and/or any other impulse that ultimately came from the wounded victim within? It can take us decades to let go of our attachments to our cherished stories of who we were to be, but when we can wake up to who we have become, it may be more authentic and satisfying to our essential self.
My beloved niece graduates from Lakeside in two weeks, and I am so proud of all of the work and dedication she gave to her years at the school. I am fascinated to see how her time in that cultural soup will affect her own destinies, and I now thank the gods for sending me to Garfield High School instead. My soul has always been called to worlds far beyond the cloistered bastions of the Northern European elite that I could have easily hidden in, but my destiny would not let me deny the fullness of my spirit. Send me love for continuing to walk this path between the worlds, talking about class issues can be a very vulnerable place, but we are revolutionaries and we must courageously open our hearts to our cultural programming if we are to flip the script.