As a young girl, I spent a great deal of time with my grandfather. My mother was a single working mother attempting to finish her Masters at American University. When I wasn’t in a private boarding house during mother’s working hours, I was often with my grandfather, Dr. Carl C. Taylor. “Dr. Taylor” was a remarkable man. To this day I miss him and often long for a heart-to-heart chat with someone as wise and loving as he. He is one of my reference points in this life for being truly, unconditionally loved.
As a very small girl, we would “discourse” about the world around us, even the universe. He was a Doctor of Sociology, and a professor who developed the field of Rural Sociology. This is the study of the farmer, of rural America, as well as other rural cultures around the world. He worked in a top position at the Department of Agriculture. My mother worked for him. My grandfather and mother were very close. Although he was not her father, she regarded him as her intellectual mentor and friend. So did I.
Having been a farmer himself, my grandfather probably saw in me fertile soil in which to prepare healthy growth. He recognized my curiosity in everything. He was interested that I appeared to be philosophical and introspective at a very young age. I was not very “at home” in the appearances of things. I wanted to be told the truth. Grandpa helped me strengthen my internal life by giving me books to read that stretched me way beyond my school reading. He made it an attractive pursuit, because I couldn’t wait to sit down with him after I had finished the book. He allowed me time to form new thoughts and ideas, under the gentle guidance of his Socratic questioning. He never told me what to think. He would simply question me, and then listen to me with the greatest of interest. Through him, my early influences were Gandhi, Roosevelt, Dag Hammarskjöld, Einstein, Jesus, Emerson, Thoreau and Adlai Stevenson. These were unusual childhood “idols”. I absorbed Grandpa’s humanitarianism. He made me very aware of the interconnectedness in life. He was my best friend.
When I was eleven, he went to India for a year to help head the Ford Foundation. I missed him terribly. Life in school was dull without him. When he returned, he immediately gave me The Autobiography of a Yogi, and asked me to read it. This book was like a bomb to my young mind. It opened me to things that I somehow sensed to be true of a spiritual and mystical nature. This book, and others , and the many ongoing talks with my grandfather, set the stage for my continued curiosity about life.
From the ages of 17 to 23, my focus was very intensely on my career. When the marriage to Ryan O’Neal ended, it provided me with enough “shock” to begin to examine everything in my life. My circumstances at that moment satisfied what we are told is “important” to achieve in a lifetime. I was famous, beautiful, financially secure and had a beautiful baby son. Opportunities for work and success were abundant. I was 23. I was unfulfilled.
It proved to be a “divine malaise” that only food of a spiritual nature seemed to comfort. By late 1969, I was in the throes of seeking and questioning. It was not a comfortable state. I gave up a lot to follow this inner urge, but to me, there was no choice. I entered the Seventies very open and ready for the wonderful “guides” who soon entered my life in quite extraordinary ways.
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