The Tracy Flick of Enlightenment / by Vanessa Fiola

**The next 16 days I'll be posting 500 words a day here as part of a creative writing challenge. Join the FB group.”

One way I know that I’m not enlightened is that my son just offered his unsolicited help in typing this post— L2QQ@Q@3R4—and I lost my mind. 

That’s not to say I haven’t tried. 

When I first started regularly practicing yoga, I threw myself into it: Bikram for 80 days straight, followed by practicing 4 to 5 days a week for years after that. I studied the Yoga Sutras, the Gita, the Dhammapada. I went on cleanse after cleanse after cleanse. I started seeing healers: from NLP to Reiki to Jungian-cranial sacral to somatic to past-life regressors—all within the first few years. I read Ekhart Tolle, Adyashanti, Marianne Williamson, Jesus by way of ACIM, Pema Chodron, a ton of Gandhi (before I realized he was kinda a sexist prick, of course). I became a boss at reading Osho, faerie and angel cards. 

I have a practice of burning intentions every—most—full moons. The routine is simple: write my goals on a piece of paper and burn them under the moonlight, letting my dreams dissolve into the ether. At first I was superstitious about the practice. I compulsively watched every last speck turn to ash; I calculated the strongest light of my timezone. At times this has forced my celebration of the full moon out of synch with the less-precise, less-evolved individuals of the world. Later, I chilled out. 

Past entries on my burn lists have included being kinder, making $<x>, coming to peace with my mom. For a long time, I would simply write down the word, “enlightenment.” 

In my early days of searching, I wanted to be enlightened for the same reason I was that kid at the front of the class in elementary school: the attention. I characterize that time as my Tracy Flick of Enlightenment phase. You could tell me anything you wanted about spiritual growth and my answer would also be some variation of “I know.”

Actually, I still do this. I’m the worst. 

As time went on and enlightenment continued to be something else, I noticed that my search morphed into more about avoiding life’s pain than a pursuit of notoriety. As if I could reach a state where I no longer felt pain. Yet, I have read and been told that as we continue to integrate, we feel fewer downturns. Of course with that comes fewer highs. The energy just stays more consistent. 

More recently, several experiences have led me to question the nature of what I believed; like the reason enlightenment has been kept out of reach is because I didn’t know how to recognize it. As if I was saying I wanted a dog but in my mind I was picturing a giraffe.

Poor analogy.

It doesn’t matter; my point is that along the way I stopped writing “enlightenment” on that little slip of paper, and that seems like progress.