Vancouver was a passage in my conscious awakening journey that had enormous rises and dips. On a graph, it would have looked like a rollercoaster ride that would scared me senseless. My highs were Everest high and my lows were Mariana trench in depth. My addictions coupled with the popularity that I had in mid-2001-2002 were wonderful bedfellows. I walked a line between dimensions (literally) talking to the disembodied, interacting with them nightly when I didn’t have a lover in my bed. Or if I wasn’t in Jen and Eryn’s space drinking red wine, smoking those cheap Canadian cigarettes, and on the end of a rolled-up bank note. Downstairs shadow beings would come into our space and walk through the walls between the bathroom, Eryn’s room, and the small lounge they had, venturing into Charlie and Zoe’s room often, catching our attention briefly as they moved to and fro. It scared the shit out people that came to the flat to party with us, but I think the nonchalance of those who lived there, or partied there often was even scarier to first timers at our residence. I had created a name for myself by then in the party scene that revolved around Kitsilano, spending a great deal of time at Nevermind, Elwoods, Fiction, and other bars along the strip. Going to dance parties with friends in the area, spending my summers at Wreck Beach and my Friday nights at the Lotus Lounge dancing my ass off, straight for the time being before I ventured home on the beeline to find my other flatmates already cranking up on a bender that would take us through the weekend.
Those lows. My start to 2001 is foggy at best for me now, but Eryn had gone to the UK on a work visa in early 2001 and I was supposed to go with him but decided to stay in Vancouver, and when he left I sunk into the lowest ebb of my almost four years in that wonderful town I to this day call home. Brin Friesen was a friend of my flatmate Owen who would come by the house a lot. We hit it off right away, and Brin would always tell me that he thought we were family in a past incarnation. I had no doubt, we were tight. There was an ease to our connection, a sense of humour we both shared, and he was a writer. That impressed me no end. His mother was a spiritual teacher whose classes I would venture up the road to, looking to find ways to maintain my balance of conscious awakening with my voracious hedonism. Agi (Brin’s mother) was also good friends with Eckhart Tolle and she would mention in passing often to me that she thought I should see him at some point. I was nonplussed about whether I would or wouldn’t see him, but she was adamant I needed to see him. Eckhart had small discourses at his apartment next to the University of British Columbia campus, and they met once a week. He had a nexus of people that would come to see him, and due to the popularity of The Power of Now those gatherings were full week after week. Still, Agi maintained my time would come. One day, while I was at Brin’s, a friend of Agi’s came by and said she couldn’t make it, and that she thought I should go. Naturally, I accepted the offer and gratefully took her place.
Eckhart’s apartment had little or no decor. We all sat on the floor, Eckhart sat in the only chair in the room while all those who knew each other chatted and laughed amongst themselves. One by one, Eckhart and the regulars would have a silent ‘check-in’ with plentiful facial movements. It resembled a troop of apes, eyebrows raising, grinning, and then intense staring. I remember feeling uneasy about being there watching this, thinking this felt like a cult. My mind raced and my unease filled the room like a swelling balloon. With my eyes darting around the apartment as I watched this process I wondered if I should get up and leave. Gently swivelling his head Eckhart smiled at me nodding andmy internal dialogue dissolved. My breathing slowed, the rising and falling of my diaphragm captured my attention and Eckhart showed me my inner being, putting my ego to sleep. The next hour and a half went by so quickly, and the most prevalent memory for me was laughter. Eckhart has a great playful humour and the anecdotal stories he shared showed a deep sense of vulnerability and humanness that struck me as truly authentic. At the end of the discourse, we all lined up to say farewell and hug goodbye. My memory of that experience was that it was like hugging a throbbing radiator, he was warm to touch, and his resonance altered my state of consciousness to a place of elevated perspective. My mindfulness stuck with me for hours after. However, it was Agi’s words on the way back to her place that would alter the perception of my experience of meeting Eckhart, reminding me that spiritual growth was often treacherous to the ego. “Your path will accelerate now, and what would have happened over six months will take place in the weeks ahead.” Being in the presence of a being who resonates so powerfully would scythe all that was holding me back from being on a higher level of conscious awareness. All that no longer resonated with my new awareness would slip away.
At this time my life story had great meaning to me. The first tremors of the rock star life that I would create for myself in 2001-2002 had begun to manifest in my life. Eryn, my closest friend, had been an essential part of that puzzle. We were a team, it was our show. The day that he left to go to the UK left a void in the lives of many. I began to forge a path ahead without him, making movements that I believed would continue where we had left off, but that came to a screeching halt when Jennifer and the other flatmates threw me out of the flat I had shared with Eryn and seven others. I had been couch surfing at the house for a few months, and no one had seemed to mind. My request to sublet Eryn’s room was turned down, and I was on the street days after seeing Eckhart. Around a week after the first discourse my employer Suzanne fired me and my tenure as her assistant for eighteen months was over. My partner Karen and I would break up not long after I had moved into the house with Brin and Agi, and I had my third discourse with Eckhart. The temporary nature of my stay at Agi’s and her asking me to leave within weeks of being there left me feeling abandoned and rejected and I contemplated moving to the UK to be with Eryn and loads of other friends who were there at the time. I didn’t go, instead I moved amongst my friends and lovers, bedding down where I could, collecting bottles and cans to pay rent and eat, eventually finding employment with my dear friend Geza. In the early summer of 2001 a room became available at West 10th/McDonald, the house I had been thrown out of months earlier. I moved back in and stayed there till November 2002. The late winter and spring of 2001 nearly broke me. When I had arrived in Vancouver in August 1999 my long-term partner and I had parted ways and my inner compass that had been so strong in Indo-China was silent. I had struggled through the rest of the year, and 2000 hadn’t been any easier, but I had not experienced anything like the weeks after meeting Eckhart.