[DF: The following text was written circa 2009, when I was attempting to write professionally.]
David Friedlander is a New York City based writer, who writes spiritual, metaphysical and narrative nonfiction. He has been influenced by many sources including Anthony DeMello, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Alan Watts, Gary Zukav, CS Lewis, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Mahayana Buddhism and many others. He writes for people who are looking for a socially relevant spiritual message as well as those who wouldn’t be caught dead in the spiritual section of the bookstore.
Why I write
The Union Square Barnes and Noble has four sprawling floors of books. Fiction, nonfiction, reference, classics, languages, career, etc. But I don’t go to those sections. I don’t know anything about Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel. I couldn’t get through any of Jared Diamond’s books. Nope. I go straight to the spirituality section, way in the back of the fourth floor. That’s not true. I meander around the other sections with the books I want you to think I read (see: Franzen, Diamond, et al). More often, I go to Amazon rather than endure this spiritual-book-buying embarrassment. Why am I so hung up?
I think there are a few reasons (none good) that I hide my interest in spirituality:
- Spirituality is for old women. If you’ve ever seen a PBS special with Wayne Dyer, you’ll know this. His geriatric audiences nod with agreement and fatigue–nary a sub-fifty-year-old in sight. The others, Deepak Choprah, Pema Chodron, Marianne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle (to a lesser extent), also seem strictly for the Oprah set. Young people are busy living it up. Their bodies work. Their erogenous zones should keep them entertained. They don’t need help. Old people are busy regretting the time spent living it up. They’re the ones who need to think about their immortal souls. That’s how it works.
- Real men aren’t into spirituality. Spirituality is touchy-feely. The book covers are pastel. The words are pastel as well. There are flower and bird motifs everywhere. It’s emasculating. Also, preaching about love and compassion and God doesn’t exactly exude raw, masculine power. Sure, it’s cool for the chicks, but the guys should be able to figure it out by themselves.
- The only excuse for being into spirituality and metaphysics as a young person is if you’ve been to Burning Man. I’ve never been to Burning Man, so take what I say with a heap of salt. I have many friends who are Burners. But I have a certain aversion to the Burning Man aesthetic. It’s sort of aggressively playful. And many of them are really into drugs. I don’t do drugs (anymore).
- Spirituality is not sexy. Name a spiritual master you want to bang?
Like I said, my reasons aren’t good reasons. But there they are. And I don’t think I’m alone.
So my idea was to approach spiritual and metaphysical concepts, not as abstractions, not as a prayers before dying, but as things that can be injected into our daily activities, in a voice that doesn’t sound as if coming from a spiritual mountaintop. It’s the voice of someone who was spoon-fed consumer and popular culture, who comes from a broken home, who has more than a little experience with drugs and alcohol, who’s been arrested more than once, who hasn’t always had an easy time with the ladies or the men, who has not always been comfortable with himself and the world. It’s also the voice of someone who had found relief, who has known peace and comfort. What I write is the little bit of wisdom I have at my disposal. I hope you like it.