n the United States (and in most developed nations)
, there is an intense obsession with the pursuit of and the acquisition of Power. For many individuals who crave this power, seek to obtain it through the use of Force. In their minds, “Power” equals strength, control, respect, relevance, purpose, identity and wealth (riches)
. And “Force” is exercised and found in many forms: Violence, Manipulation, Deception, Destruction, Leverage (i.e. “Bribery and blackmail”)
, Crime, and Punishment, just to name a few. Exercising this type of power is at best temporary and ultimately destroys the one seeking it. But true power in it’s purest form can only really be achieved through compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, purpose, generosity and love.
“To know the pains of power, we must go to those who have it; to know its pleasures, we must go to those who are seeking it: the pains of power are real, its pleasures imaginary.” ~Charles Caleb Colton, Lacon
When I reflect on my life, I see a life where I’ve attracted three types of people. One group were individuals who for one reason or another were “incomplete,” and were attracted to my energy, wanting it for themselves (“drain people”). Another group consisted of individuals who were highly evolved human beings and, recognizing the potential for me to achieve the same, took it upon themselves to help, nurture and mentor me (fortunate for me, several of these people are still in my life today). And the last group, are people who sought to exploit my power and manipulate it to their needs (many of these people I’ve encountered along the way in my professional life- I’m sure you know the type).
The first and last groups I’ve had the good fortune of cutting away from my life. I’m not going to lie: it was hard because many of these types of people have an extraordinary knack for exploiting you. They’re masters at finding subtle (and at times not-so-subtle) ways of working their way into your life, particularly if you are in states of need or uncertainty. Often, they’ll find creative ways to make you dependent on them in some manner, where this dependency turns into a lock or a crutch. And when that happens, it can be very difficult to break away.
It’s funny: I can remember the very first time I ran into someone who embodied this dark side of power. His name was Assan and he was from Senegal, West Africa. Assan was a master at insinuating himself into people’s lives and manipulating their emotions to his end. This was a very dangerous and powerful man, and he took an unnatural interest in me for as long as I’ve known him.
I remember one time Assan demonstrated his power: during a game of Monopoly of all things. There were for of us: three adults and myself (the sole child) in the game. During the game, he would accurately predict not only what he would roll and buy, but what others would roll and buy. At first, this came across to us as boastful jousting, but then, as predictions came to happen, it turned to amazement, and then something else. Some part of me sensed it was a lesson, a demonstration of power on my behalf. I was always apprehensive when in his presence and thinking back on it, he probably knew this. For me, he was both a dangerous and interesting person, and someone I chose to study, not worship. While everyone else was mesmerized-I was simply curious, and probably made me a curiosity for him…
Interesting enough, on my 16th birthday, just five years later, I found myself playing a game of Monopoly. And, in just the same way he did, I proceeded to predict rolls and purchases. I won, just as he did (it would be a long time before my friends played Monopoly with me again).
“The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.”~Mahatma Gandhi
Regardless, I’m very fortunate to have come out of that period of my life unharmed, and since then I’ve had the great fortune of having some of the most generous soulful, spiritual people nurture me along the way. It is to these individuals I dedicate the following poem:
Shimmering with brilliance,
she gently tugs, caresses,
intoxicates one’s very being.
She races across the path of the living,
leaving the spirits encountered,
trembling in her wake
All at once,
she excites the weak,
making one feel
as though all is possible
She frightens the strong,
making them drunk with sudden doubt,
as to the purpose of one’s life
Hunters can not escape her beauty
Prey become vigorous in her wake
And evil becomes impotent
Like water, she cools and nourishes all who partake of her
Like the sun, she blinds all who dare attempt to understand her
Like the glowing embers of wood and fire,
she reminds us that simplicity can be comforting
She travels invisibly,
touching all those who despair
At the moment of death, like at birth,
she disguises herself, briefly, as peace
One can travel an entire lifetime
and be touched by her many times,
yet, still not know of her existence
She is patient, always waiting for one
to see that, indeed, she has always been there,
always been close by your side
She resides within the most empty of souls
She encompasses all living beings
One is truly wealthy
if one recognizes her presence
All is available to those who envision her
She is Love.
~ Lee Christopher Grant