Donâ€™t tell me about new years resolutions. Every year I resolve to improve myself, and every year I end up even worse. I blame this phenomenon on self-help books. Iâ€™ve tried â€œThe One Minute Managerâ€? and â€œThe Two Day Fast.â€? Iâ€™ve studied â€œThe Three Minute Therapyâ€? and â€œThe Four Agreements.â€? Iâ€™ve applied â€œThe Five Tibetan Wisdomsâ€? and â€œThe Six Pillars Of Self Esteem.â€? Iâ€™ve practiced â€œThe Seven Habits Of Highly Effective Peopleâ€? and â€œThe Eightfold Path To Midlife Love.â€? Iâ€™ve perused â€œThe Nine Steps To Financial Freedomâ€? and â€œThe Ten Ways To Simplify Your Life.â€? Iâ€™ve practiced â€œEleven Weeks To A Younger You,â€? and â€œTwelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.â€? Iâ€™ve walked â€œThe Road Less Traveled,â€? golfed â€œThe Course In Miracles,â€? had â€œA Conversation With God,â€? ingested â€œChicken Soup,â€? and yelled â€œWho Moved My Cheese?â€? Iâ€™ve bought so many self-help books, shelf help is what I need at this point. Read enough of these things and youâ€™re bound to get conflicting advice. First they told me â€œEasy does it,â€? then they said to â€œJump and the net will appear.â€? They told me to â€œEmbrace my adulthood,â€? then they said to â€œFind my inner child.â€? They told me to â€œGet out of myself,â€? then they told me to â€œGo inside.â€? It all became so frustrating I had to get a book on anger management.
I didnâ€™t just read about self-help, I immersed myself in it. Iâ€™ve attended classes, clinics, conferences, and conventions on everything from nirvana to numerology. Iâ€™ve been to Jesuit retreats and Buddhist temples, Christian camps and Indian sweats. Iâ€™ve bounced from Bradshaw to Baba Ram Dass, from the Bible to the Bhagavad-gita. Iâ€™ve kvetched through kabbalah and consulted Confucius, decoded Da Vinci and combed the Koran. Iâ€™ve followed my bliss, chanted my mantra, dairied my dreams, and danced with my shadow. Iâ€™ve had my tarot read, my auras checked, my chakras cleared and my house feng shuiâ€™d. Iâ€™ve done grief work, bodywork, biofeedback, and bee pollen pods. Iâ€™ve done group therapy, aromatherapy, hypnotherapy, and pyschotherapy. Iâ€™ve tried affirmation, meditation, visualization, and deprivation. Iâ€™ve tried spirit channeling, astral plane traveling, new life rebirthing, and past life regressing. Iâ€™ve tried subliminal tapes, sublingual sprays, coffee colonics, and wheat grass juice. Iâ€™ve done it all. I didnâ€™t snap out of it until I realized I was wrapping my legs in seaweed as part of a Loon Point yoga-thon.
All right, I was nuts. I see that now. Crushed by a self-imposed crisis, I finally surrendered to a â€œHigher Power.â€? This, I believed, would make the chaos stop. Instead, I ping-ponged from social kamikaze to spiritual samurai, from macho fatalist to new age wimp. One minute Iâ€™d be steely-eyed and tighter than an eight-day clock. The next Iâ€™d be starry eyed and crying on my therapistâ€™s couch.
Friends reacted to the new me by asking where the old me went. â€œI donâ€™t know,â€? I whimpered. â€œOne day I woke up and I was missing!â€?
Maybe that was the point. Iâ€™d spent years getting my act together then I had to get rid of my act.
Iâ€™m glad to say it was all worth it. Unencumbered and ego-free, I am nothing but a wisp of humility. Thereâ€™s no more self to help. Perhaps that explains a dream I had recently. I had levitated to a hilltop high above the city where my life purpose became clear. I am to write my own self-help book. Maybe even take on a pen name to land a fat, three-book contract â€” Deanpok Oprahman, maybe. Then, with the proceeds, build myself a huge mansion overlooking the Pacific.
Suddenly, my self help journey all made sense. Of course! This would be my reward for becoming the spiritual giant I am today!
My guru thought otherwise. He said my dream only indicated how little progress Iâ€™ve actually made.
Dean Opperman is not to be confused with the guitar player outside of the Gap downtown. Humble him at firstname.lastname@example.org.