Searching for Life
December 17, 2012
Searching for Life
When I was 26, a spiritual man in an old storefront in Wisconsin told me that I would go to school to heal people. Reminiscent of Jesus writing in the sand, he scribbled on a tattered piece of paper, while he said I would travel to many places, live many places, before I would finally settled down and understand my true path. He also said that it would take about ten more years before I would ever become successful. He said I would write a book(s). At that time I was twenty-six and living in NYC. I was an actor, singer, and dancer. I left the storefront where the man lived and scoffed. “What does he know?” I can be anything I want to be.
I remember his words hitting my heart hard and deep, though. I wondered about the path I had chosen as an actor, and if I was following my heart or God’s. Or was my path to be a combination of both?
I soon woke to realize, I was going from audition to audition trying to become something that would only temporarily fill the hole that was in my heart. It was clear to me that what I needed was acceptance, and I needed it badly, which was why I chose a path that people applauded and cheered at the end of everything I did.
I grew up a waif, very skinny and pale, and a school nerd. I got straight A’s and I played the piano and sang three hours a day, which drove my family crazy. Finally, my family put the piano in my bedroom and padded my room with five inches of quilts.
The guys at school hated me. They would jack me up in the stairwells and punch me just because they could. “Faggot!” rang through the stairwell, as it emptied. Left there angry and hurt, I crouched there trying to regain my composure for my next class.
I remember one time I was in Social Studies class sharpening my pencil, a crazy guy was taunting me with his sharpened pencil. Yes, it went straight into my right eyeball, leaving me with a scar, I would finally get surgically removed at 32 years old.
It’s not easy growing up different. What you end up needing most of all is support and people praising you. It’s no wonder a lot of gay guys go into theater. Crowds clap for you and give you standing ovations. You can imagine you are truly loved.
But what happens when you realize that the claps you are hearing are, in fact, hollow—not for your heart, but for the mask you wore for the last two hours? You’re left with a gaping hole the size of a Great Lake?
That’s where I found myself when I finally decided to pursue my dream of becoming a Christian Contemporary singer in Nashville. I saved up a lot of money and moved here in a red VW bus, only knowing two friends. The days were lonely, but the nights were even rougher. I remember one night crying on the phone to my mother. She was so worried about me the next day, she called and called my home leaving messages (before we had cell phones) and couldn’t reach me. So, she contacted the police. I recall coming home from the grocery store and finding three policeman with large flashlights surrounding my house, just about to breakdown my door.
When I asked what was going on, one policeman said, “Are you Bo Sebastian?”
I said, “Yes.”
He said, “Son, you better call your momma right now. She thinks you’re dead.”
I spent about two years pursuing Christian Contemporary music in Nashville, before I realized that I would have to lie about being gay to get any kind of deal, even a writing deal. So, I let that dream go too would be no lying anymore for me. If I couldn’t be honest and authentic, then whatever it was I was pursuing, simply wasn’t worth it.
Finally, I just started teaching voice lessons and practically became an overnight success. I had 40-50 students each week and was making money hand over foot.
I never had so much money. But teaching wasn’t filling my heart either. It fulfilled some sense of my passion, but what I really wanted to do was write. After I spent an entire year writing my first novel, I got fifty rejection letters. I read books about getting published, hired editors to help me, and went to Literary Writing Seminars across the US. With each step I got closer to my dreams. But soon I realized that what I searched for in publishing my books was the same thing that I was searching for when I was an actor—approval. So, I lay down my pen and searched again.
Finally, when I wasn’t looking for my passion, I discovered it. I was having trouble sleeping for maybe three to five years. I would go to sleep for about two hours, then wake up wide-awake feeling like I could run around the block—my heart pounding out of my chest. It would happen every night. I was exhausted mentally and physically. I thought I had tried everything. But one day I was waiting for church to begin in NYC in the Empire State Building and saw a notice on a Memo board for hypnotherapy. “HAVING TROUBLE SLEEPING? Give me a call!”
I did call and was relieved of years of agony with one session. But what I learned was so much more. I understood the body/mind paradigm—finally. I understood what I was: A spirit dwelling in a human body with a mind. Hypnosis helped me coordinate the parts of my brain to help me feel whole and spiritual. I could go deep into trance and step outside myself, just like a prayer, and look compassionately at my life and now make some sense of it, which also fortified my spiritual walk.
In that moment I understood that I was on the path to my passion and fulfilling my dream, some ten years after the man in the storefront told me so. These last twenty years have been so rich with success, not just financially and mentally, but actually knowing who I am and what I am here to do finally makes sense. This is my definition of success: When you find your passion, it doesn’t matter if you pick up garbage for a living, life becomes perfectly okay. A sense of peace falls over you that you never expected.
People have asked me, “If you were to win the lottery, would you quit working?”
Every time I answer without pause, “Absolutely not! I couldn’t live without my work. It is my life force. It feeds my soul everyday to help people understand who they are, what is missing in their lives, how to get back on track, and how to risk the hard choices to gain the power they’ve lacked.”
There is only one rule for searching for Life, my friends: Find it in your passion!