This incredibly generous guest blog was written by my friend Samir Selmanović, Ph.D. PCC. Samir is, among other things, a Mindful Chef, Life Coach, and the Founder of Mystic Turn, a community of creative professionals learning to live a life greater than what we can control. I’ll be In Conversation with Samir this Tuesday, and I hope you’ll tune in! –Frank
Do You Want a Normal Human Life?
You might have to fight for it and you might need to take a mystic jailbreak too
Read at Medium
The moment I allow my heart to feel this void, to have this conversation, a miracle occurs.Samir Selmanović
Frank Schaeffer, a New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen fiction and nonfiction books, is not a normal person. I remember when he first stayed with us in our apartment here in New York City. In the middle of the night, I noticed a rustle in my kitchen. I staggered there and found Frank sitting at our kitchen table, typing, with his back straight and city lights in the background. He was raptured by stories and other things our world is made of. He does this every night.
Frank’s life is packed with twelve lifetimes. In the last fifty years of American political, religious, and art history, he appears randomly like Waldo and fiercely like a prophet. Frank is mad. Frank is loving. Frank is an extremist. Frank goes to bed at eight pm. Frank is lucid. And Frank speaks frankly.
This is Frank…
See what I’m talking about?
Fight for Freedom
I just completed reading a manuscript of Frank’s new book called Fall in Love, Have Children, Stay Put, Save the Planet, Be Happy (In stores: November 2, 2021). It’s a cathartic progressive manifesto for our time and an ode to tradition, saying no to opportunities, and respecting mothers. The book is, most of all, about the beauty and urgency of living a normal human life.
Peppered with anger many of us feel these days, overflowing with kindness and paced with belly-shaking humor, for me, this book is a Molotov cocktail of love. Reliance on scientific research and heart-expanding interactions with his grandchildren made me grounded. I felt I can take up a fight. Frank’s profane reverent stories carried me like a river and I fell back into life baptized and ready for what’s next.
When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down life we thought was normal, the sheltering in place with our families, as well as our solitude, opened our eyes. We noticed the value of the essential. And we saw how we have structured our lives to make essential impossible for us, and if not for us, then for other people.
Fortunately, the real “how-to” for a happy life is simple and exists in our DNA: a meaningful connection to others. So we evolved to feel happiest when we live an everyday human life. Fall in love. Have children. Stay put. Save the planet. Be happy.
This normal human life is beautiful and powerful. It’s where FOMO ends and enchantment begins. I tend to assume that some political freedom fighters will come down the hill and rescue us. Frank is not waiting for anyone. He lifts up his grandchildren in his arms and steps into the battle. Join me in fighting with him.
Take a Jail Break
Recently, Frank told me how early readers of the Fall in Love, Have Children, Stay Put, Save the Planet, Be Happy manuscript rightfully questioned the viability of this orderly journey for people whose lives do not have the luxury of such predictable normalcy.
Most people’s lives are not a series of neat stages described in our human development textbooks. Not anymore. Our contemporary lives are mostly out of control. We are living in continual transitions, often overwhelmed, sometimes facing dead ends and making backward movements. We have preciously rare periods of thriving that come with the luxury of choice. Many don’t have it.
The following day, I’ve emailed him the following. (A bit of a context here: I teach ordinary mysticism practice of experiencing a life greater than what we can control.)
To a different extent, we all have this limitation. We have regrets and sometimes wish our lives have turned out differently. A sense of a life we could have had is never far from us. Mystics have been custodians of a superpower that every human being has: bridging the inner and outer world and learning to experience life that is larger than our own. This can happen in an instant. Suddenly our neighbor’s kids become our own. I missed the artist caravan, but looking at your paintings, I exclaim, “Look at us, artists!”
Portals to our unlived lives are all around us. You did not have children? Let me tell you about my daughters. They are beautiful and powerful, and they are yours too. I have never had a chance to care for my parents in their old age. May I help you with yours? The moment I allow my heart to feel this void, to have this conversation, a miracle occurs. Past, present, and future collide. This crazy shit makes people lose their minds only to become sane for the first time. Of course, we belong to each other!
So, you have missed the boat, fell off the wagon or were cut down? Where has your love gone? It has gone to those children playing while you were walking by, it has gone to causes your life has never had an opportunity to understand, it is going to the grass that will grow from your body soon enough. If you want to, before you go, you have an entire life span ahead of you. Take a mystic jailbreak. You are way more than just the “you” you think you are.
If you are a podcaster, blogger, journalist, community designer, or influencer of some kind, and would like to check out Frank’s manuscript, please contact me and I will reach out to Frank.
If you are a creative professional living with constant uncertainty check out Mystic Turn. We are bringing together a supportive cohort of people like you to practice seeing the world differently so that we can together be more present, imaginative, and daring in the way we care for ourselves, love others, and thrive at work.