Meeting My Inner Coach
By Keith Varnum
Well, I reckon I got to light out for
the territory ahead of the rest,
because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and civilize me
and I can’t stand it.
I been there before
Throughout our lives, our inner coach guides us into situations where we can gain a clearer vision of ourselves, our world and our future. Sometimes the path can be turbulent, as the personality tries to close its eyes to the grander view. However, when the personality opens again to inner guidance, the light of clarity illuminates the previously darkened world.
To a searching college student, Europe held the promise of some answers to the perennial questions of a nineteen-year-old: What’s the meaning of life? Why am I here? Where do I fit in? What special contributions do I have to offer?
I desperately needed some corner of the universe to make sense to me. I longed for more meaningful answers to life’s important questions than I was finding in American academia or culture. Foreign films were my passion, along with continental cuisine and the early Impressionists. I made my pilgrimage to Europe to immerse myself in the societies that gave birth to the whole of Western civilization. Near the end of my travels, I visited a completely intact, two-thousand-year-old Roman Coliseum in the South of France. The arena was a stunningly symmetrical structure, eternally balanced and bold.
This forum of ancient culture that once showcased gladiator contests, flamboyant circuses and other vehicles for public entertainment for imperial Rome now hosted bullfights for modern Europe. Finding a seat in the crowd, I decided to stay and watch the performance. As I absorbed the brilliant pageantry of color and celebration unfolding within the historic structure, an abounding sense of harmony and beauty swept over me.
The first bull charged into the ring, tossing his noble head from side to side as he ran around the enclosure. The crowd stood as one, cheering wildly. A lithe, brightly costumed matador strode toward the bull in measured, confident steps. He shook his gleaming cape and stamped his feet. An expectant murmur ran through the audience. Waving his cape again, the matador challenged the huge beast before him. The bull charged. I marveled at the elegance of the matador as he calmly pivoted away from the attacking animal a scant few inches from his body. Over and over again, the bull charged and the matador twirled away, barely escaping the sharp horns. It was a dance. The huge bull ferociously attacked and the matador gracefully pirouetted away. I found myself cheering with the other spectators.
By then, I understood the cadence of the crowd. So, when an expectant hush swept over the coliseum, I felt something ominous about to happen. The enraged animal lunged at his tormentor. A reflection of something shiny caught my eye. Then I saw the source of the glare—a honed, steel blade poised in the air to strike. I recoiled in horror as the first blade went into the beast’s back. My senses reeled as one sword after another was plunged into the weakening bull. Bitter bile rose in my throat as more gaily beribboned spears were thrust into the bewildered, mortally injured animal. Stunned, I watched as slowly, very slowly, the life force was senselessly drained from a once vibrant creature.
I witnessed three bulls die that afternoon. As the third victim fell to his knees, his blood joining that of the previous two beasts, my numbness gave way to a growing abhorrence of the “civilized massacre” in the ancient arena. Crying out loud, “I can’t be part of this! This is not me!” I stumbled blindly out of the coliseum into the street.
My heart pounding against my rib cage, I rushed to the solitude of my car. I’d journeyed to the Old World to find my place in the sun and bask in the glow of the wisdom, principles and traditions of Western civilization. In the coliseum, the realization became quite evident that I had been monstrously misled. A civilization that purported to nurture the immutable qualities of life, liberty, fraternity, equality and compassion was, in fact, dedicating this magnificent classic structure to the systematic destruction of life spirit.
The bullfight was an unavoidable metaphor for the disturbing aspects of Western culture that I didn’t want to confront. Still fairly new to the planet, I yearned to remain optimistic and trusting. But my innocence and faith were difficult to sustain in the face of the cruelty of humanity’s constant warfare, social hypocrisy and religious intolerance.
My father was a lawyer and a politician. Even at my tender age, I’d already discovered the corruption and lies within the inner circle of most of the Establishment. I couldn’t reconcile the asserted, altruistic principles of the world’s political, religious and social institutions with the actual actions taken by those same bodies. To my young eyes, very little that our system proclaimed to be true turned out to be accurate. I could see why Native Americans lamented, “White man speaks with forked tongue.” All my life I’d witnessed modern man saying one thing and doing another. I could see the duplicity in every branch of Western civilization. “I cannot fit into this culture,” I grated aloud. “There’s no place for me in this two-faced, deceptive society. My spirit won’t permit it. My heart can’t allow it.”
As I drove away from the coliseum and the treacherous crime against life I’d witnessed, my heart slowed to its normal pace. Back at my hotel, I contemplated what I’d discovered. Calming down, I moved from judgment to discernment, from subjective evaluation to objective observation. I simply saw the situation for what it was: I didn’t belong. I realized that my particular spirit wasn’t meant to fit into this particular civilization. This wasn’t my culture; this wasn’t my home. And I saw I needed to distance myself from the values of modern society.
Accepting this revelation without reservation triggered a fleeting, inner glimpse of my true nature and destiny. At the time, I wasn’t able to identify or comprehend the full import of the vision. But somehow, in that moment, I knew that my spirit is here to express and evolve totally outside of the society in which I’d grown up. I’m destined to live in the culture, but not be part of it. I saw my true purpose and mission isn’t to fit into this civilization, but to actually create a new culture. I’m to be part of a movement that will bring a whole new vein of original, fresh human expression on the Earth.
But what movement? With whom? And what should I do until I get more details? Suddenly, I felt a strong sense of impending danger. Feeling terribly alone in my newfound awareness, I recognized that I was in peril of being immersed in a society masquerading as a defender of life while, in reality, it was a killer of spirit. Fear washed over me. I panicked, I’m not safe here. My soul is in danger!
The next morning my eyes began to sting and burn. My vision was blurred. Within a few weeks, I was losing my sight in both eyes.
Increasingly unable to enjoy my travels, or even to drive safely, I cut my European trip short. Heading for my parents’ house in Pennsylvania, I hoped to reconnoiter and get my bearings straight again. By the time I reached my childhood home in the U.S., my sight was totally gone in both eyes. The lights went out. I saw only darkness—inside and outside. My parents flew me around the country to eye specialists, seeking treatment for my mysterious affliction. No doctor could help my predicament or even diagnose the cause of the problem. The medical establishment told me I would have to “live with it.” My lifetime dream was to make movies. My major in college and part-time professional vocation was filmmaking. Young, energetic, in the prime of my life and otherwise completely healthy, I was a filmmaker being told to live with total blindness!
Dylan Thomas’ bold admonition reverberated in my head, “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage, against the dying of the light!” He was, of course, referring to fighting death. The doctors’ advice to live with utter darkness was, to me, as a once vibrant visual artist, a virtual death sentence. For the first month of my blindness, I disappeared into comfortless despair. I wanted to die. I didn’t want to live sightless and dependent on my parents for daily care. As a painter, sculptor, photographer and filmmaker, my primary connection to, and nourishment from, life had always come through my eyes. I felt lost on a bleak, black sea of fear, sadness and resentment. I could barely be civil with my parents who were so loving in their patience and tolerance in the face of my angry ranting and rancor.
I sank about as low as a human being can go, wallowing in self-pity and bitterness. After a month of despondency, I awoke one day with the idea of procuring a guitar to play. It felt as if the notion had been placed in my head somehow by someone or something outside myself. I’d never played a musical instrument, but I asked my mother to buy me an acoustical guitar. She was so ecstatic I was actually showing an interest in something, anything, that she readily complied. I taught myself how to play notes and chords. Although I had no conscious awareness of the traditional styles of jazz, I developed a natural, personal musical style similar to what might be called “jazz guitar.”
The pure sounds of this simple stringed instrument helped me build a bridge to life again. I reached a point at which music was enough of a reason to get out of bed each morning and go through the difficulties of dealing with the world as a blind person. I still recall the feeling of the exact moment when I decided I wanted to live again. It’s a point of reference and a source of power for me now when I get discouraged or negative about how my life is unfolding.
Fortified with the strength of my recent musical connection, I began the long road back to the level of openness and enthusiasm for living I once took for granted. I played to, and sang with, the birds outside my bedroom window. I slowly recharged my soul. Gradually, I pried my heart open again to feel and breathe in the joy of being alive. I restored my trust in myself. I reconnected with nourishment from the world outside myself.
As I reopened to the smells, tastes, touch and sounds of the physical universe, I spontaneously began to develop a sixth sense I never before noticed. I could “feel” where the furniture was located in my path as I walked through the house, steering successfully around chairs and through doorways. I could “sense” the presence of a person in the room before the person spoke or made a sound. I could even tell when someone was approaching our house and about to ring the doorbell.
Then, one day, I sensed an energy, a nonphysical Presence, in my bedroom. The sensation felt similar to how a person feels, yet distinctly different. The energy of the Presence was much more vibrant and penetrating than the presence of a human being. The phenomenon was even more dramatic and impactful than when my nonphysical friend St. Germain would come visit me. I’d felt such an energy before—when I was alone in nature and when I was in church. Instinctively, I began to converse with this Presence, asking who or what it was. I received an “answer” in the form of waves of loving, calming vibrations radiating from the location of the Presence in the room and, at the same time, from some innermost part of me! I felt these caring energies emanating simultaneously from outside—and inside—of my body.
Once comfortable with the vibration of the Presence—although not yet certain of its source or nature—I began to ask it questions out loud. “What happened to my sight? What can I do to see again?” Having recently gone blind, my concerns were very narrowly focused at the time!
At first, I simply felt waves of assurance that all was in order and proceeding along its proper course. These vibrational reassurances made no sense to me conceptually, yet I felt the intrinsic truth of their import. I was definitely put at ease by the power and perseverance of these energetic messages from the Presence.
At the time, I had a vague suspicion that the Presence was a mystical combination of Spirit, or God, and an aspect of myself, perhaps my higher self. My obsession over my lost eyesight completely overrode my curiosity or need to understand the nature of this healing Presence. I didn’t pursue its precise identity to any extent. I was simply thankful for a friend of any kind in my prison of darkness.
Soothed into an authentic state of gratitude, I began to shed the mantle of despair and frustration I’d built up over the last two endless months of my stint in the darkness. I began to actually appreciate the time the blindness afforded me to relax, contemplate life’s important issues and develop my newfound relationship to music, myself and this mysterious Presence. I even decided I could live the rest of my life blind if that was what was meant to be! My calm acceptance of this possible fate really surprised me at the time.
Even at my young age, I innately surmised that my blindness had something to do with a lesson or truth I needed to learn about life. I intuitively knew such a severe handicap had to be part of a larger scheme or purpose. I sensed this challenge of blindness was playing some sort of role in the unfolding of my personal spiritual game plan.
By diving into the depths of the soul in search of personal truth, I ascertained that receiving a helpful answer depends on asking the right questions. The focus of my queries to the Presence altered. I asked for illumination on the spiritual meaning and value of me going blind. I knew all too well the detrimental effect of my blindness, but I wanted to know the beneficial purpose of this limitation to my spirit.
As I pursued this new track of inquiry, I began to recognize why such a nightmare was happening to me. Simultaneously from within me and from the all-encompassing Presence came the insight I was seeking.
My intuitive understanding came on two levels: that of the personality and that of the soul. On the personality plane, I’d decided in the coliseum that it was crucial for me to find a way to diminish my exposure to public scrutiny and disclosure. I was afraid people would discover that I was seeing through society’s cruel charade. My psychological strategy was to make myself appear powerless and innocuous so that I wouldn’t be viewed by society as a threat. With the emotional logic of an ostrich burying its head in the sand, I was unconsciously trying to protect myself from being found out. If I couldn’t see, I wouldn’t be seen! If I couldn’t see, society wouldn’t know that I was seeing through its deceptive veneer of pretending to be a compassionate civilization. To stay safe, I felt I needed to become invisible to the culture. Then society wouldn’t detect my personal revelations and judgments about its integrity. At the time, this tactic seemed completely reasonable to my scared personality.
On a more fundamental level of understanding, my blindness had inestimable value to my soul. Banished to dark solitude, I was forced to go within, and in doing so, discovered the existence of Spirit in the form of the Presence—and of my inner coach in the form of intuition. I felt very fortunate!
From my “dark night of the soul,” I learned that I can use my intuition—rather than a physical handicap—to protect myself. I can use my inner sight to discern the truth of situations in order to react accurately and keep myself safe in the world. I can look (intuit) behind the appearances of situations until I find a deeper reality, a perspective more basic and authentic than what’s showing up on the surface through the perception of my personality. With this intuitive approach, I can navigate more effectively and safely through the world of human affairs.
Also, I am extremely appreciative for the comfort and clarity of having forged a direct communication with Spirit—God. As is my newfound dialogue with my inner coach, my connection to Divine Presence is an eternal blessing that enriches every moment of my life.
Within hours of my realizations, events began to unfold that eventually brought back my full eyesight. In order to turn around the direction of my life, I changed my diet and lifestyle, as well as my attitude. I started to eat fresh, natural whole foods. I began to exercise daily again—even taking long walks outside guided only by my new friend, my sixth sense. I took up yoga and meditation. As I transformed from a fearful and resentful victim into a strong and grateful source-rer, my full eyesight gradually returned.
Viewing life with this fresh attitude and approach, I discovered that the root of people’s callousness and cruelty to each other, animals and the Earth lies in people’s fear of living life honestly and fully. Now I see how I can use my insights to help people dissolve this fear. Instead of hiding from life in blindness—or otherwise playing small, dumb or weak—I can use my powers of heightened perception and awareness to benefit humankind.
The curse of blindness turned out to be, in reality, a gift of power. Concerning any issue, I now go inside to consult my inner coach until I uncover the pure, undiluted stream of direct knowing flowing behind the scenes of every event on the planet. To embrace the soul expression that underlies all human affairs, I look beneath the surface manifestation of issues. I connect to the eternal beingness within each person and to the unity and grace behind all appearance of separation and conflict. I delve into the nature of disagreeable circumstances until I find a core reality that is more primary than what is showing up on the surface of human experience. I no longer accept any interpretation other than the truth of divine purpose creating every situation. This deeper meaning can heal and transform any circumstance.
To this day, I employ my inner coach to stay safe, play big and keep my vision clear. I use my outer power to assist others to transform the surface darkness of their lives into the inner light of true understanding.