By Dana Gornall
Every once in awhile when people hear my name, they repeat a line from a popular 1980’s movie, Ghostbusters.
“There is no Dana, there is only Zuul.” It’s the line Sigourney Weaver delivers after being possessed by some sort of evil entity. Her regular, somewhat conservative, persona has been totally transformed. When Bill Murray’s character is trying to find a way to connect with mild-mannered Dana, she tells him that there is no Dana.
I could say that lately I have been doing some soul searching, but that isn’t quite right because “lately” has become about two decades.
I have been in and out of libraries and bookstores, churches and meditation circles. I have looked for answers in tarot cards, in psychology books, in yoga and in the gym. I have talked with people who are atheist, who are Christian, who are Pagan and who are Buddhist, and all the while I keep looking under log and stone, on the digital and paper page, and every thing I turn over seems to lead me back to the same blank space.
I need a guru, I have said. Or a therapist. Or both. Yet it keeps coming back to me.
There is no guru.
I am reluctant to jump into anything with both feet, whether it be any single practice or mindset, one political stance or even a friendship. I have a lot of reasons.
I am busy. I have a lot to do. I don’t like socializing. I work a lot. I’m tired. It’s far. It won’t help. I will try it next time. Or tomorrow. I’d rather be doing XYZ.
I make a lot of promises. I tell myself I will get up early or that I will meditate before bed. I buy books and I read parts of them. I talk to people and ask questions. I hang prayer flags and sometimes I wear mala beads. I spend a lot of time focusing all of my attention outward on a lot of different things, but when it comes to looking inward I tend to buck.
I need a guru, but there is no guru.
When I gave birth to my first child, I remember being in the hospital and staring down at him in the early morning hours when the light was still a dim gray and the commotion of the day hadn’t begun. I looked at him with amazement and fear; this perfect little being was going to be my responsibility when we walked outside those doors that day. How could I do this without any help? I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I was good at pretending and really good at preparing. I had taken every class they offered—infant CPR, labor and birth education, breastfeeding, infant care. I read books on parenting, on nutrition and on how to handle being a first time mom. Yet, here I was being sent home to take care of a baby and I was terrified (the irony is he will be turning 18 soon and I am still terrified that I don’t know what I am doing).
However, at some point we just move past the fear and the awkwardness and we just do.
We figure things out. We make the mistakes. We adjust and we learn and sometimes we do better, and sometimes we make the mistakes again.
It’s possible that there is no answer and there never was one. Regardless, when it comes to looking for someone to guide us on the path, the mirror is a good place to start. Life is so very short. Perhaps the only way to jump into something is with both feet, after all.
I can make excuses and I can have all of the good reasons. I can search books and stores and libraries and posts. I can keep wishing for someone to guide me or wishing for an answer. I can keep asking and inquiring with friends and acquaintances, I can keep looking around every corner and behind every door. The truth is it will always come back to that same empty, blank white space on the other side of the question.
There is no guru, there is only Dana.
*This post is dedicated to my friend, Kate, who always jumped in with both feet….every time. Choose Joy.
Editor: Alicia Wozniak
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