Monday, December 23, 2019
Baba Ram Dass RIP
My senior year of college I was beaten and sexually assaulted by a member of my household.
I threw on some jeans and a shirt and sneakers, no socks. I ran into the street.
I phoned desperately.
I had previously told a fellow college student, Nancy, about the domestic violence. I phoned her and she offered me a roof.
I slept here and there, ate this and that, and got straight A grades my final year of college.
The event knocked me off my feet, though, and it took me a long time to recover.
Other than Nancy, people weren't really helpful.
I phoned a battered women's shelter and the intake person was contemptuous and snotty, telling me that I didn't sound traumatized. I wish I could find that person. Actually, I'm glad I can't. I'd do things to her that I'd have to pay for later. God or the state would punish me.
A professor I confided in was a total idiot. I can say that now. Couldn't say that then. I thought she was superior and my problems were just proof of what a lousy person I am.
I went to a priest and he gave me a brown paper bag with boxes of uncooked spaghetti inside.
I hung out a lot at the Catholic campus center he ran. It was nice having a roof, rugs underfoot, a fireplace.
I read the books from the shelves. I read Baba Ram Dass' Be Here Now. It was helpful to me. It wasn't the whole ball of wax, it wasn't everything I needed to learn, but it offered some good insights.
I never got into drugs and I did not convert to Hinduism, so I didn't really sign up for the whole Ram Dass agenda, but I vividly remember reading that book and how reading that book was a good thing that happened that year of disintegrating shoes and sleeping outside and eating out of dumpsters and crying my eyes out alone.
So sad that so many people never discover what it is to have a reading life, a life with books and authors.
Baba Ram Dass' NYT obit is here.