Continued from Chapter 22.
“If you focus on your fears and create thoughts in your mind about a bad outcome, and if because of your fears you send emotional energy to this imagined outcome, by definition you are creating it.” Don Emilio
By Richard Juarez
“Hey bro’, how ya been?” Tomás came up to me at my hall locker at school.
“Hey, Tomás. I’m doing pretty good. Busy as hell, and trying to keep up, but things are going good. What’s going on with you?”
“Oh, same ol’ same ol’. Not much different happening. But …” he paused, “there’s a lot of folks wondering about you. I don’t know if anyone has told you yet, but the guys have been talking about you and Tony leaving your homies.”
For months now, the guys have been bugging Tony and me about the fact that we hadn’t been hanging out with them much anymore.
“Well,” I said, picking out the book I needed for my next class, “I don’t think either of us said anything about leaving, but I know I have been swamped with loads of other things. A while back we came out to play basketball like we all agreed, and most of you guys didn’t show. Only Arturo and Pablito were there. But I can’t just hang out like I used to. You still spending all that time over there?”
“Probably not as much. But when my homies call, I go on over. It’s my duty. But we ain’t seen you around when they call. And some of the guys don’t like it. They figure you just decided to quit. And some are saying … they ain’t just gonna let you walk.”
Damn! I silently shouted to myself. I knew this was coming! We shouldn’t have ignored what we’d been hearing. But what the hell could we do? I pushed my locker door and it slammed shut, making much more noise than I meant to.
“Tomás,” I said as I turned to look directly at him, face to face, “we’ve all been friends for so many years. I don’t want these guys telling me where I need to be when I’ve got some other stuff going on. It’s bad enough dealing with my parents telling me where to be and when.”
“Hey, man, I’m just telling you … as a friend. Guys are talking. Some want to just let you be, cause they know you been busy working with the Brujo. But some others are saying that it don’t cut no ice, that you’re just like everyone else. And a carnal can’t just walk out on his homies. They say you gotta pay.”
“And what do you think?”
“I don’t know, man. We got rules, you know. I gotta follow them. Maybe everybody needs to follow them. I know you got this special thing going with the brujo, but some of the guys say that it’s not real shit, that it’s just a plan by your folks to get you away from your homies. You better talk to Tony and do something, soon, before some vato loco does something stupid.”
“Yeah, I will,” I said as he turned to walk away, “and hey, thanks for the heads up.”
I knew we had to talk with Don Emilio about this. Luckily we only had to wait another week to see him. Tony and I were both so busy we didn’t have a chance to talk before then. The week seemed to go on forever, and the whole time I felt really confused. On one hand I kept worrying about what the guys might be planning to do to Tony and me. And on the other hand, I thought about all the sessions we’ve had with Don Emilio as he talked to us about these teachings he called the secrets of the ancestors. In the last few sessions, he really focused on the process of creating what we wanted in our lives. In that last session, I finally got it. I saw how all the pieces fit together. But I kept thinking about the warning from Tomás, and what might happen. And the biggest question was how did that fit into what we create in our lives?
When I got to Tony’s house he was sitting on his front porch steps. He started right in before I had a chance to say anything.
“I am really ready to talk to Don Emilio! This stuff seems to be flowing easy right now. I’m really jazzed about being able to focus on creating what we want, even though I know we can’t just spend all day imagining what we want and sending it energy. I know we have to do all the other things to get our energy up. But I’ve been so excited that I’ve even been waking up early. With the extra time, I’ve been able to get in a few minutes of meditation before leaving for school. Sometimes if I’m walking to school alone, or on the way back, with nothing to do but move my feet and look out for traffic, I’ve done the thought bubble exercise. A few mornings, when I didn’t get a long enough meditation at home, I even did a walking meditation. At lunchtime, it takes less than thirty seconds to give thanks for my food. And for a few seconds more, I can add on gratitude for all things in my life, now and for what’s coming.”
“Hey, Tony, that’s really good. I was doing real well too, for most of the month. I could tell something was different. I didn’t struggle to find time to do the exercises. I didn’t even look at them as exercises I’d been assigned to practice. They were the things I did during the day, whenever I found a few minutes. I did them because I wanted to, not because I had to report to Don Emilio.
“But then I had this discussion with Tomás last week. He talked about the guys being angry that we haven’t been around.” I told Tony the details of what Tomás said. “Now I’m afraid something’s going to happen,” I continued. “And it’s getting in the way of being able to concentrate on my exercises. I mean I’m still doing them, but sometimes my heart isn’t into it. I’ve tried to meditate and get those thoughts out of my head, but they just won’t go away.”
“Maybe like we said before, we need to start figuring out how to share a little of what we’ve learned with the guys,” said Tony. “I think that might help. What do you think?”
“What?” I looked at Tony and shook my head, surprised he suggested it right now. “I know we talked about doing that eventually. But they’re thinking about punishing us right now, not about learning what Don Emilio’s teaching us.”
“Man, that conversation with Tomás really has you freaked out. I mean, I’ve been worried about what to do too, but not like you. I’m glad we’re going over to talk to Don Emilio. Maybe he can help us figure this out.”
He peeked into the house. “Whoa, I’m glad I looked at the clock. It’s almost eleven. We better get over there.”
We didn’t have to run hard, but we definitely walked fast down the street, picked it up at the alley, and jogged into the yard. When we got close to the garden shed I heard slow meditation music playing, so we had to quickly shift gears. As we stepped into the shed I saw a thin stick of incense burning. It had almost burned down to the end. The thin line of smoke was gently rising, gliding from the front table to the back of the shed and out into the yard. Don Emilio sat there with his eyes closed, enjoying the quiet. Well, quiet until we arrived. Slowly I slipped onto my chair. Taking a few deep breaths and inhaling the aroma of the incense helped to calm me immediately. The music helped too.
Don Emilio didn’t say anything, letting us get adjusted to the atmosphere he created. He hadn’t used incense to start our sessions before, and rarely had meditation music playing. As I sat there waiting for him to begin, I listened to my breathing going back to normal, getting slower and slower. Soon I realized I had started meditating without really thinking about it. It didn’t last long though, as he finally stood up and walked over to the table. He turned off the music and snuffed out the incense stick.
“Let us begin today with any questions you may have about our last session or your exercises.”
“Don Emilio,” I said, “we need to talk with you about our, uh, club.”
“Your ‘club’, eh?” Then walking and talking in a perfect cholo style, he said, “Sooo… wha’sup, ese?”
Tony and I both laughed. “Orale, Don Emilio,” said Tony, going through the motions, mimicking him back. “You got that down pretty gooood, ese!”
“It’s about leaving the gang,” I said, getting back to business. “We haven’t had much time to be with the guys and have mostly just ignored what’s going on with them. We haven’t shown up when they’ve gotten together, things like that. They know we’ve been busy working with you and doing karate and Tony’s work and all. So they let it slide for a while. But …” I paused to think how best to say it, “they don’t just let you quit.”
“It’s like being a Catholic,” Tony added. “The nuns told us, ‘Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.’ Well, these guys say once a carnal, always a carnal.”
“Hmm. I thought I heard that your uncles were involved with this gang, Vincent, and that Juan had been head of the gang. They are not still part of the gang, so what is this about ‘always’?”
“Well, I don’t know.” I said, “But they’ve been talking about what to do about us. They know we won’t be back. We still hang out with some of the guys, but we aren’t going to go back to being part of the larger gang. And we were never really initiated as full members. That’s not something either of us has any interest in doing. We used to hang out with them sometimes and act like part of the gang because there wasn’t much else to do, and being part of the gang was cool. It brought a sense of safety in numbers.”
“But now that we’ve had a chance to step back from it,” Tony added, “we don’t want to be involved in the drug stuff many of them are into. And you feel safety in numbers, but you also need it because you become a target of other gangs.”
“So they’re talking about how to punish us, to make an example of us for leaving.” I paused, then added, “Like beat the crap out of us!”
“Like a rite of passage out of the gang,” said Tony.
Don Emilio didn’t respond right away. He stared at Tony for a few seconds, and then at me.
“I hear fear in both of your voices, and I see it in your eyes.”
“Darn straight!” I shouted. “I’m scared as hell of what could happen.”
Don Emilio rubbed his chin, then leaned back in his chair. “So you are afraid of what your life-long friends might do to you.”
I nodded, even though that sounded pretty stupid.
“Are you sure their objective is punishment, or are they looking for some formal closure and a means for them to save face with your leaving?”
Tony had a puzzled look, and I’m sure I did too.
“What do you mean?” Tony asked.
“Well, there seems to be some ways to leave that are okay. We talked before about older boys getting a job, or getting married.”
“Yeah,” said Tony, “the older guys can’t be as easily intimidated. Man, if I was 6’4” and 240 pounds, those skinny wanna-be-somebodies who are talking up punishment wouldn’t have the huevos to say anything.”
“So there are ways to leave that are okay, right?” asked Don Emilio.
“Well, yeah, I guess so,” I responded. “But just for the older guys.”
“But Vincent,” added Tony, “some of the guys our age have moved away with their parents to another part of the county and dropped out, and it’s been okay.”
“So, Don Emilio,” I said, “what you are getting at is that there may be other alternatives here. That getting beat up may not be our only option.”
“There are always alternatives,” he answered. “We have spent a lot of time talking about how we create what comes into our lives, how we get what we focus on. So you create those alternatives, consciously or unconsciously, and in the end you choose one and make it happen.”
“Oh boy, here we go again.” Tony stood there looking at the ground, shaking his head. Then looking up at me, he said, “You’re the one who’s freaking out here.”
“So I’m creating the alternative of getting beat up?” I asked. “No way! Why would I want to get the crap beat out of me?”
“Well,” said Don Emilio, “if you focus on your fears and create thoughts in your mind about a bad outcome, and if because of your fears you send emotional energy to this imagined outcome, by definition you are creating it. Now, it may be that on some level you agree with this rite of passage into and out of the gang. Perhaps you believe that if you go through it, you will be able to hold up your head when you see these guys on the street, and they will acknowledge you for having had the courage to go through this ‘rite of passage’ out of the group. Then again, you might be able to come up with a totally different rite of passage that leaves your face intact.”
“But they are gonna decide how to deal with us,” I said emphatically. “I ain’t got much choice in the matter, do I!”
Don Emilio didn’t respond to my statement. He kept looking at me.
“Do I?” I finally asked, making it a question.
“When things get difficult, there is sometimes the tendency to let someone else do the decision-making,” said Don Emilio. “It is ‘group think,’ or the old ‘going along with the guys’ routine. Remember when you tried to crash the party in East San Diego? You said you did not want to go, but you went along with the guys anyway. Arturo and Pablito made your decision for you.”
“Yeah,” I responded. “They were talking the tough guy crap, accusing me of being afraid. Then the first thing they do is run away.”
“They probably figured that most of the other gang would rather jump us than run down the street after them,” said Tony.
“They went out to that party knowing the risk,” said Don Emilio, “knowing they were looking for trouble. They chose to put all of you at risk. When they ran off, they fully expected that the two of you would get beaten up, or worse. But I came along and changed that, because you and I are dreaming a different dream. Vicente, the events of 16 years ago when you were brought by your Tata to meet me were meant to end up with me teaching you about the ancient spiritual power of your ancestors. You were not supposed to end up dead in East San Diego. So I had these very, very strong messages that caused me to get to San Diego when I did, and to drive your Tata’s car out there to find you. Our connection had more power, more energy, than Arturo’s decision to look for trouble and to let you take the fall.”
“Looking back on it now, it seems like a miracle that you showed up when you did,” said Tony. “It was a miracle!”
“Yes, it was a miracle. It was magic. It was part of the magical nature of the Universe. Your guardian angels and guides, and mine, were communicating loud and clear and helped save you from what could have been a real disaster. The two of you had a lot of help that night coming from the spirit level, looking out for you and protecting you. You got your own messages, but you went anyway.
“So with that as an example of the extraordinary measures your guardian angels and guides will go to in order to keep you safe, what makes you so certain that there are no options other than getting your faces bashed in by your ‘friends’? Do you think your protectors are simply going to abandon you this time? Sure, your ‘friends’ are not planning to kill you, but how maimed do you plan to get?”
“Man, I don’t even want to think about how maimed,” I said.
“Okay, but do not ignore it and allow it to happen.”
“All right, then,” said Tony, “so what can we do? How do we, as you say, create a new alternative?”
“Well, I cannot create it for you. It has to come from within you. If you look to your own inner messages, and as you think about what we have discussed over the past year, I think you will find your answer.”
Don Emilio paused, and walked back to his chair. He sat down and took a deep breath. Certain that we were finished with that issue, he began again.
“Now, as I said earlier, I want to hear any questions you have about the last session or about any of your practice exercises.”
“The one I’m having trouble with is dreaming,” I said. “I’ve been trying to become aware in my dreams. I’m remembering a lot of my dreams, and writing down as much as I can, but I can’t remember to do some action in the dream. A few times I realized I was dreaming, but I guess I got so excited each time about getting to that point that I woke up before I could take an action. But mostly I just kept on dreaming. I couldn’t do anything. It’s getting frustrating. How do I stop and do something else and not keep dreaming?”
“You have achieved a lot! Congratulations! There is no need to be so hard on yourself. To repeatedly be aware that you are dreaming is a great start. Just keep it up. Keep trying to be aware in the dreams and keep writing down your dream experience. Soon you will be comfortable with the idea that you are aware that you are dreaming. Then it will be easier for you to take some action. Let me suggest that you decide on one action you want to take—like clapping your hands—or one place you want to go in the dream. And whether you try a dream or out-of-body experience, do the same thing. When you go to bed think about doing that one thing. And with enough repetition, you will eventually remember it in the dream. And when you remember it, firmly will yourself to do it or to go there.”
“What do you want to do or where do you want to go?” Tony asked me.
“Well, Tata has been sick again, so I’ve been thinking about him all the time. I think I’d like to go check up on him and see how he’s doing. You said we could travel to places and see people. Can I do that?”
“Sure,” said Don Emilio. “That would be a good action for you to take. And since you say it is something that is always on your mind, it could be easier than most anything else for you to remember. Now when you arrive at your Tata’s house it will be late and he should be sleeping. So I would suggest you wish yourself to be at his bedside rather than in front of the house. And although he will be sleeping, remember that just as your consciousness is awake, his spirit self may be awake and aware of your presence and may want to communicate with you. So be aware, and listen for communication from him.”
Wow, this is really cool stuff, I thought to myself. Who would ever have thought we would be talking about flying at night to visit Tata. “This flying stuff, Tony, the guys could really get into it! Think about the possibilities! We’d better practice dreaming more.”
“Yeah, so maybe I can join you when you visit your Tata. How trippy.”
“That is part of what this is all about,” added Don Emilio. “Have fun, expand your awareness, learn more, check up on your loved ones. Yes, think about the possibilities. So keep up the good work. I would like to emphasize that insights into the answers you seek will come from your shamanic energy practice. As you have already discovered, you can get messages. You can know things ahead of time. You can get into the flow. But you need to consistently work on increasing the amount of energy you have in the luminous egg that is you. You need to light up your being, and to plug your leaks. That comes from practice.
“Each day, do the exercises that best help you to increase your energy level. The techniques you practice will evolve over time. Your commitment to daily practice is the key, not only in dealing with your friends, but in all aspects of your life. Increasing your energy each day is the key to living in the flow of the universe, connected to all things. Daily practice ingrains this way of being into your mind, and into your entire consciousness. Daily practice helps you remember who you are.”
We ended the session and said goodbye to Don Emilio. Out on the front sidewalk we talked briefly before going our separate ways.
“I appreciate what he’s telling us about raising our energy and trying to get our own answers,” I said, “but Tomás was really serious. We don’t have much time left. I’d really like to know what our homies are planning for us.”
“If only I could read a few minds right now,” added Tony.
We both laughed, but it was an uneasy laugh. We knew the time for dealing with them was coming real soon. So we agreed to talk about it again after school on Monday.
“I’m glad I’m finally getting out of there,” said Tony as he walked up to me. “I’ve been waiting all day to talk to you.”
We had agreed to meet just off campus to walk home.
“We could have met at lunch time if you were so anxious.”
“We tried that before. It was hard to find a spot where there weren’t many people around. I thought it would be better to wait so we wouldn’t have to worry about someone sitting near us hearing what we were saying.”
With so many students getting out at the same time and heading home, there was a pretty big crowd walking down 12th Street. But we could either walk faster and get ahead of them, or slow up and let the crowd thin out as we walked, so they couldn’t hear us clearly.
“So what are we gonna do?” I asked as we started walking. “We gotta think of something before they come after us.”
“Okay, okay. First, we have to figure out what to do about some of them wanting to beat us up. And we also have to think about how to tell them what we’ve learned from Don Emilio. I know you don’t think we should be doing that yet. But remember, he said the answer to the getting beat up part might have to do with what we’ve been learning.”
“I don’t know how we’re going to get them interested in what we’ve been learning when what they want to do is beat the crap out of us.”
“Well, hell,” said Tony, “I don’t know, I … ah….”
He slowed down, looking up into the sky. Suddenly he stopped and pounded both fists into the air. He stood there smiling at me with a big look of relief on his face.
“I know what we should do!” He sounded so sure and yet so surprised. “It just came to me!”
“Okay, okay, what?” I pleaded.
“Well, you know how we’ve been telling Don Emilio we can’t just ditch these guys and act like we don’t know them anymore, ‘cause they’ve been our friends for years?”
“So,” continued Tony, “rather than quit and try to stay away from them, which we don’t want to do, why don’t we share some of what we’re learning and help them. Before now, we haven’t been able to figure out what would make most of them interested in this stuff. I think we could start out teaching them karate, even if it’s just to help them fight better. I know most of these guys are pretty pathetic when they fight, even when they’re just playing around. We could show them how to fight better with karate, then show them other energy movements. After that we could teach them other things about energy.”
“Tony! That’s it! Karate is pretty popular, but I don’t think any of them have ever taken karate lessons because most of them have some sort of arrest record, so they’re not allowed into the Youth Center. But how does that get them to stop their plans to kick the hell out of us?” Suddenly Tony’s great inspiration didn’t sound so great to me.
“From what Tomás told you the other day, it sounded like some guys want to fight us, and some don’t. But they agree they gotta do something if we’re quitting. It’s the rules. And like Don Emilio said, maybe they just need to save face. They can’t just ignore our quitting. So maybe we propose teaching them karate and some simple energy stuff as an alternative that helps them save face, and that benefits each one of them. We could ‘graduate’ to becoming their personal teachers, and maybe they’ll forget about wanting to beat us up.”
“That’s a pretty big maybe.”
“I know we aren’t ready to teach them all this stuff yet, but we could start with what I know best. Vincent, you could help me. I’m not saying I can teach everything about karate and hand out black belts or certificates. But we can show them different movements and how to get their energy moving. That’s all we’re interested in for now. We just want to get them started.”
Tony paused, but I didn’t want to say anything else. He was on a roll and I didn’t want to interrupt him. I knew there was more. I could see him thinking about what he would say next.
“This fits in with our creation exercise and what I really want in my life right now,” he continued. “I know it’s what Don Emilio used for the practice exercise, but I want to do it for real. It’s what I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Like Don Emilio’s example, I want to get a job at the Youth Center or at the Boy’s Club or somewhere helping to teach karate to younger kids. That’s what I put into a thought bubble recently. But this is even better, even if it’s not for pay.”
“So did you give up on the baseball glove?” I asked.
“No, I’m still expecting that to show up, and I’m still sending it energy, but it’s teaching karate and energy movement that has me most excited, so I’ve been mostly focused on sending energy to this new thought. Maybe it’s about to really happen!”
“Sending energy rather than sacrificing chickens. Well, that sounds like an improvement!”
Tony and I stopped in our tracks and turned around, surprised to hear Linda right behind us, laughing.
“Stop with the chickens,” pleaded Gloria, laughing with her. “They were kidding!”
I thought we left a lot of space between us and any other kids walking home. I guess we got so involved in our discussion we didn’t notice them gaining on us.
“What a surprise to see you here,” said Tony sarcastically.”
I elbowed him in the ribs.
“You guys look a little sweaty,” said Tony. “Been running?”
“Oh, we always walk fast on our way home from school,” said Linda, also sounding a bit sarcastic. “Let’s see, to get more exercise, or … so we don’t get hassled by homeless guys, or….”
“Hi Vincent, Tony,” said Gloria, as she waived a light tap at her sister to get her to stop. “Did you say you’re going to start classes on what you’re learning from your Tío? Sorry, I just overheard a little of what you said.”
“We’d like to start some classes teaching the guys about karate and energy movement first, then some of the other things Don Emilio has taught us,” said Tony. “We’re gonna talk to them about it.”
“Vincent,” said Gloria moving up closer to me, “don’t forget, you said you would include some of the girls.”
“I’m not going to no classes with those hoodlums!” Linda said emphatically.
“And they won’t want to go to any class with you,” added Tony, laughing.
I looked at Tony and smiled. “Yeah, we already figured out we’d have to do separate classes.” The girls smiled and nodded. “But we’re planning to start with the guys. We have to do something for them before they come after us for not hanging around them much anymore.”
“Hm,” said Linda. “Maybe you guys aren’t so dumb after all.”
“They’re coming after you?” asked Gloria, sounding concerned.
“There’s been talk about it for a while now,” Tony answered. “So we’re gonna go propose doing some classes for them, in exchange….”
“In exchange,” I said, “for not getting our faces bashed in.”
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