- Hunter S. Thompson
In 'Part One' of this blog, I defined "the beast in the jungle" as being a potential reality that exists as an abstraction in the future. I emphasized the importance of living in the present and not worrying about anything that may or may not happen in the future, because the present is the only true reality that we should be concerned about (read the previous blog HERE).
I also talked about how the above philosophy could be applied to my financial situation, which always seems to be on the verge of disaster but never actually IS - in my present reality - a disaster. Even though I would often go into a month not knowing how I was going to pay my bills in a couple of weeks, somehow the money would come and I'd always end up OK. All I had to do was keep my faith, trust that some higher divine power would come through and make everything OK.
Well, for the last two months of 2011 my trust in this "higher power" was put to the absolute test; and in the process, I basically came face to face with the beast in the jungle. In fact, I think it's safe to say that I touched the beast, even kissed its forehead tauntingly. And you know what? Ultimately, the beast turned out to be not so bad after all. The beast actually turned out to be one big, giant pussy. Of course, you might be asking yourself what the hell I'm talking about. So allow me to explain myself:
In October of 2011, I actually arrived at the end of the month and realized I had absolutely no way to pay any of my bills. This was the first time that this had ever happened. All my videography and digital editing work had dried up. There was nothing coming at me from any paying source. No wedding videos. No dance recitals. No corporate gigs (PetEdge - a company I had done a lot of work for earlier in the year - didn't have anything more for me). There was literally nothing and all my funds evaporated like a pond in late July. I didn't worry about it at first. Technically, I still had until November 2nd before the actual due dates for the bills, so I thought I would figure something out in the meantime. But I didn't. Nothing came at me. I mean, there was literally no money to pay my bills with. The due date came, and for the first time EVER, I did not pay any of them. Not one single bill.
At first, I really freaked out about the situation. I was late paying my bills! What a disaster! How could God leave me hanging like this? Why did he help me out all those other times but totally forsake me right now? What an asshole. "Lord! I don't want to be part of your creation anymore! This is flawed!"
But then I was washing my hair in the shower one day and I realized that things weren't so disastrous after all...not in the present, that is. I mean, nobody was going to bother me that day about not paying my bills, as there would likely be some sort of a grace period. I was probably OK for the next day as well. And the day after that. Maybe even for a good, full week. So I decided to take things day by day...like, literally. The actual financial ruin was still in the future. Maybe I'd get the money in the next day or two or three and everything would be swell.
In fact, it wasn't that long before I came to the conclusion that this was likely one giant test of faith (of course, it also occurred to me that I may have been delusional and stupid and completely out of my mind). But, yes, I really thought I was engaging in one, gigantic trust fall, like what we used to do in drama club. The question was how long could I go without letting the fear get to me; how long could I go strictly living in the present reality and having no concern about the financial collapse that seemed so frigging imminent it wasn't even funny?
Of course, all rationale and logic told me that I needed to go out into the world and secure some other paying job, abandon what I enjoyed doing with my life and find a more financially stable lifestyle in an office or maybe a holiday retail job. And let me tell you: I was basically on the verge of doing this. But when I thought about going this route, it didn't feel right for me...like, at all. The main reason was because I knew I would be lacking sufficient stimulation and forced to be uncreative for long periods of time, which is something that would make me miserable. And why should I be miserable? I mean, if I had to be miserable to survive in the world, then, well, I didn't want to be in the world, and it was as simple as that. I basically said to God, "Hey, man, if you want me to be miserable, then go screw yourself and your creation and please throw a lighting bolt my way that'll take me out. But if you DON'T want me to be miserable, then you better help me out of this situation. I will show you my full faith and trust, but - in the end - you have to make everything OK."
So I left it at that and I managed to get through November 3rd...and November 4th...and the 5th, and the next day and the next day. To tell you the truth, I don't think I heard from any of my creditors until a few days before Thanksgiving, and it came from a non-threatening letter that suggested I pay one of my bills as soon as possible. The week after that I think I got a phone call with an automated message and then maybe a week later I got another letter. In the meantime, no money had come my way. But no disaster or ruin came my way either. I actually made it to about halfway into December before things got a little hairy, and after that, well, things quickly escalated into a very scary situation.
The first phone call I got from a living person was from my bank on December 15th. During the two months that I had been broke, my checking account became overdrawn because of the monthly fee the bank subtracted from the zero dollars I had in the account. The lady on the phone was very nice, and she basically just said I had to take care of the situation in a couple of days or they would be forced to close my account. I thought I wouldn't be able to pay them, because I thought they'd fined me twenty dollars for each overdraft; however, it turned out that there were no fines and I owed the bank much less than I thought (only twelve dollars). So I was able to roll some coins I found and I actually came up with the twelve dollars I needed to balance out my account. Problem solved.
But then the next phone calls came, almost one after another, like Pandora's box had been opened. First, it was my credit card company. Then, it was an agency collecting for PayPal's "Bill Me Later" division, which I also owed money to. Then came the student loan people. Needless to say, I started feeling very overwhelmed and very stressed.
Now, I'm not sure if you've ever dealt with bill collectors and collection agencies before, but if you never have, it's certainly not an experience I would ever wish upon anybody. To be honest, I don't know how anybody can actually have a soul and also be a bill collector. To say these guys are persistent would be a gross understatement. On the week before Christmas, it got to the point where I was receiving about three phone calls per hour from whatever agency was collecting for Bill Me Later. I eventually turned off the ring to my phone and tried to ignore them. But they were pretty vicious. They would keep calling and never leave a message. Apparently the law says if they talk to you in person or leave a message they're not allowed to call again for a significant period of time. But if they don't leave a message, then they can keep calling as much as they want, and harass the shit out of you.
The week before Christmas, I was literally ready to have a breakdown. I felt so stupid for letting my financial situation get so out of hand. I mean, was I even taking a leap of faith or was it all in my head? Was I just being incredibly stupid and completely fucking myself over for life? To be honest, I was just about ready to accept the latter as the truth...
But then God finally intervened.
A very well-paying gig basically came out of absolutely nowhere. An old friend of mine had a wedding video that he needed done by Christmas Eve but he didn't have time to edit. He was willing to pay me very good money to get it done. So, boom, there it was. My leap of faith had possibly paid off.
I took on the project and for the next week I worked day and night getting the wedding video done so I would meet the deadline. The calls from the bill collectors kept coming, but I tried to stay sane, sweet-talk them on the phone and basically dodge them as best as I could. In the end, I got my money and, well, I was fine. Although things got very scary, nothing very bad had actually happened in my present reality. I mean, I basically had the shit scared out of me by the harassing bill collectors, but I was fine in the end. God had come through and saved my ass from anything truly bad happening. I stared financial ruin right in the face - eye to eye with the beast - and what I realized is that it wasn't as bad as I thought it was. I went much further than I ever thought I could, pushed my faith to the limit, and just when things were getting a little too hairy, I was saved. All was still fine. All was swell. There was absolutely nothing to be worried about. I didn't have to compromise my joy, become miserable and get some boring office or retail job that I hated going to every day. I did what I wanted to do, every single day - what kept myself happy and my soul at peace - and I was fine in the end.
So I would encourage people to do the same. Go eye to eye with the beast and see that there is nothing to fear at all. Do what you want to do with your life. Don't get scared into doing something that sucks or that makes you miserable. Take the leap of faith. Go the distance. Hit rock bottom. Let yourself fall and your world collapse. How bad does your present reality actually become when you do this? Do things ever become truly disastrous? Or do you get helped through each day, one waking hour at a time?
On a side note, I feel the need to mention how similar my financial situation during the last couple months of 2011 was to the situation I had in Poland during my (alleged) past life (read about this life HERE). It was around 1939 in German-occupied Poland, I had a family of nine to feed and I was experiencing extreme financial difficulties. The Nazis came along and offered me a very well-paying job; I was an excavator and they wanted me to clear some land and dig some "anti-aircraft trenches". I was afraid of financial ruin, so I took the job, even though I didn't have the best feeling about working with the Nazis. I cleared the land and dug the holes, but I eventually discovered that I wasn't digging anti-aircraft trenches; I was digging mass graves that would be used to bury hundreds of Polish intellectuals that the Nazis wanted eliminated. Even though I immediately knew partaking in such evil was wrong, I still went along with it, because I was afraid that I would be killed and my family would starve.
Of course, a lot more was at stake while I was in Poland (i.e. a family of nine to feed), but the basic situation was very similar to what I experienced during the last two months of 2011. In Poland, I compromised my soul (in perhaps a very extreme way) out of fear of financial ruin. In my life now, I was on the verge of doing the same. I wasn't considering working for the Nazis or anything like that (obviously), but I was about to get some boring office or retail job and that was a path that I wasn't at all comfortable with, a path that was going to make me absolutely miserable. Where in Poland I had more faith in easy money than God, in my current life I like to think that I placed more faith in God. Where in Poland I feel like I kind of failed my test of faith (however difficult it was), in my current life as Matt Burns I was put to the test again and, this time, I really think I passed. I mastered my fear of financial ruin, hopefully once and for all.
On Christmas night 2011 - when I finally realized I had passed my "test of faith" - I had a really strange dream. I was floating through Space or the universe or something, and so weren’t a bunch of other people...or maybe it was their spirit selves, souls or whatever you want to call it. All I know is a bunch of us were floating towards what-I-identified-as Source Intelligence, the Divine father of the entire universe (i.e. God). Some people were struggling to get to Source, but couldn’t quite get there. Something would pull them back. Others would hit a point where they simply couldn’t go any further, like they were hitting a brick wall or something. But I was basically locked into Source and being sucked in like I was caught in a magnetic field. Where everybody else was struggling, I didn’t have to put any effort into getting there at all. It was like I was going on cruise control. I got closer and closer to Source and, eventually, I became one with it and then I suddenly became aware of being back in my bed and feeling this awesome sensation come over me. I think the best way to describe it is to say it was a feeling of ascension, and I’m not quite sure I know what I mean by that.
Looking back on it, I think this dream could have meant a number of things. I think it may, in a sense, mean that I finally found God...or, in a sense, became one with God after taking an enormous, seemingly never-ending leap of faith (these past few months have been the grand finale, but the 'leap' has actually been going on more then seven years, since I finished college). In fact, I think that's the whole point of taking a leap of faith: to find God and become one with Him in the sense that you are as fearless as He is.
I also think the dream was symbolic of me passing the test that I failed to pass in my past lives. I finally overcame my fear of financial ruin and finally showed that I have one-hundred-percent trust in God and Source, the Divine Father, or whatever you want to call that highly intelligent energy. I certainly can't go so far as to say I am an ascended master now (i.e. that I have mastered one-hundred percent of the human condition), but I may have - perhaps - made a major accomplishment, ascended to some degree (on a spiritual level) and for that I'm kind of proud of myself.