There I was, 21, an alcoholic and a bartender. Not a very good combination for a college dropout.
But thankfully for me, I worked with a guy who got his Master’s in Philosophy who would try to blow my mind with crazy new thoughts and ways to look at the world. It worked.
For months we would talk about subjective realities, postmodernism, and the baby boomer generation’s influence on public policy. It was great. Eventually we got to the point where he didn’t want to talk anymore about stuff, but instead told me to go check out Ken Wilber’s book A Brief History of Everything.
I remember thinking that this guy must be a pompous ass.
But after reading a few chapters (with a dictionary close by, I will admit), I started to realize that I was internalizing a lot of the contents. Most of it has to do with the postmodern situation and integrating it and other cultural and social philosophies into one all-encompassing framework. He covered stuff from Jung’s obsession with UFOs to Robert Monroe’s ego-centric and pseudo-scientific approach to Out of Body Experiences to chemical differences between the sexes to improperly handled ecological public policies. When it said Brief History of Everything, it meant it.
What was great about the book was the way the words fell from the page and into my head, leading me to talk about things in a new way with those around me; all the while I tried to constantly strive for that chich encompassed Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. I grew up with the Bible always close at hand, so this was a real change (zing!).
Pretty soon, most of us bartenders had read it, and the nights after closing were spent talking about the world instead of trying to drink our body weights.
Wilber has gone on to publish several other books, of which I’ve read a few, but it was that first book, in that certain time, in that specific place that held a lot of magic.