Thomaston is New England town known for America’s first clock factory. There were plenty of trees to climb and creeks to dive in, so I consider myself fortunate. My mother was a pious lady, and it’s to her credit that despite my habit of pinching my baby siblings to get out of church, I somehow felt called to missions work. My aspirations were derailed, however, after a Q&A with one Calvinist professor. “Why is it,” I wondered, “if I am ‘born again as a Christian,’ why am I still attracted to sin?”
When I was a teenager My family moved to South Carolina. it was like a mini reincarnation. My beliefs gave way and I thought “Let me seek Truth; if my original worldview is confirmed I’ll understand it better, if not what’s the loss?”
I double majored in debauchery and Studio Art, and by the end of second quarter I was hospitalized after a mental breakdown due to addiction and depression. I considered it a form of mental violence to make people work so hard just to exist.
At 19 I had to rebuild my entire life. I was reading voraciously and doing art therapy. After a year of psychoanalysis, my therapist told me, “I don’t usually say this to patients, but there’s really nothing wrong with you. It’s everybody else that’s screwed up.”
One afternoon, desperate for a new life I struck out for NYC where I lived as a street artist. I attended the Art Student’s League of New York where I was sponsored by one instructor. In gratitude, I prayed to God “You’ve been so kind to me; is there anything I can do for you?” Around that time I got Prabhupada’s books in the Union Square subway station.
In subsequent years I witnessed first hand the Deep Horizon oil spill in New Orleans, and was involved in police brutality activism in South Carolina. I got in trouble there so I backpacked to California and met devotees. The first day I started chanting “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare” I gave up suffering and became joyful. This movement has given me all facility to find a purpose and direction and now I’m just trying to surrender and find my place in Prabhupada’s mission.