My Higher Self Is a Drunken Waitress Named Shirley

Author’s Note: You haven’t walked a fine literary line until you try to write a blog post about spirituality that is comprehensible to both your evangelical, Jesus-y loved ones and your neo-pagan, shamanistic, barefoot friends. For one thing, it’s like trying to write in two different languages at once. In the same way that people with a New Age or an alternative spiritual bent don’t walk around saying “praise the Lord, brother!” Christians don’t generally use words like chakra or vibrational frequency or Kundalini. Also, you don’t want your Christian peeps to fear for your soul, so you can’t address things like tarot cards, trance channeling, or how you want to smoke DMT before you die. You also don’t want your more eclectic spiritual circle to think you’re a sellout. (I tried to think of a list of verboten topics here but I failed. There is literally nothing too weird to discuss with that crowd).

I’ve done my best here. Whether I succeed in making either group laugh is still up in the air.

I spent the first three decades of life immersed in traditional Christianity. First I was a Fundamentalist, but then I became an Evangelical because they had better music. And eventually I converted to a New Age philosophy because I really liked incense and wearing feathers in my hair. Actually, there was a lot more to it than that, quite a bit of which required therapy, but that’s a story for another day.

I’m not a very good New Ager. My Higher Self is a drunken waitress named Shirley. My animal totem is a very small rubber duck. I also suspect that my spirit guides are unemployable in the rest of the universe. At intergalactic cocktail parties, when asked what they do for a living, my spirit guides just shuffle their feet and mumble about volunteer work with the spiritually handicapped.

I’ve mentioned (read it here!) that my conscience is a Syrian cabdriver named Leo. Leo is only in charge of driving the guilt train though: making me feel terrible when I eat junk, or overdraw my bank account, or don’t call my mother. Shirley, on the other hand, has the unenviable task of helping me to spiritually ascend. And by “ascend” I mean she’d be happy if I’d just stop peeking at the clock when I meditate.

Shirley (who has a red beehive hairdo and smacks her gum while she pours my metaphysical coffee) is full of advice about my spiritual health. “You shuddeneat bacon,” she slurs, slopping coffee on my arm. “It’s a low-vibration food.”

“You tied one on again last night, didn’t you, Shirley?” I ask, crunching bacon with my mouth open, just to annoy her. “Some Higher Self you are. My friend Becky’s Higher Self is teaching her to access her Akashic Records: past life regression. But all I can get out of you is a lot of hungover nagging.”

She sways a little, and fixes a beady eye on me. “I know you’ve been throwing your plastic bottles in the trash and not recycling them. It’s like you’re from Texas or something.”

“I AM from Texas! How do you not even know that?”

She hiccups loudly. “I’m gonna tell your drum circle on you. Mother Earth killer.”

Shirley plays dirty pool. “Fine,” I say, pushing the bacon away. “I won’t eat bacon if you won’t tattle on me.”

She is not done with me. “Have you been smoking again? You’ve been smoking at work, haven’t you! Breath is spirit you know. Only low-frequency people smoke cigarettes.” She waves the coffeepot at me threateningly.

“I do not smoke!” I am outraged. “I stopped smoking ages ago. Quit being so judgmental.”

“Then why is your crown chakra so small?” she demands. “You have a crown chakra like a Pentecostal.”

We go around like this for a long time. I’m used to it. I know I’ve won when Shirley has to take an aspirin and go lie down on another plane somewhere. The silence of her absence is the perfect time to meditate.

I reach for the bacon.


7 thoughts on “My Higher Self Is a Drunken Waitress Named Shirley

  1. Carre Gardner

    Oh my gosh, this is hilarious! I’m picturing Flo from Mel’s diner. The other day, I had this [passive-aggressive] patient I was about to transfer out to a rehab. The ambulance arrived, and the crew went into the room with me. “[Jane,”] I said, “Your chariot has arrived to take you to rehab!” Jane, whose whole day had been centered around this event, lay supine and motionless on the bed. “Jane?” I said. “Time to wake up: your ambulance is here!” Jane didn’t move. At this point, I actually checked to make sure she was breathing. “Jane!” (a third time.) At this, she opened her eyes. “I was doing,” she told me narrowly, “a chakra cleanse. But I guess I’ll just finish it later.” I did not laugh aloud. No, I did not. Instead, I told her gravely, “I think later would be the very best time to finish your chakra cleanse.” And now, as far as verboten topics for ,the karmic circle, how about Absolute Truth, sin, and the existence of hell? Just sayin’.

      1. stillunwinding

        Shirley et al. My spirit guides have rather questionable credentials, if you ask me. I think they spend time in Night Vale too:)

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