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a caterpillar’s story

My life story in a word: pain. The rest is detail.

I hate telling it. I hate drawing attention to myself and much prefer to speak through my work. But Maya Angelou once said: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” And this agony gave birth to the InnerNet. 

My earliest childhood memories are of accompanying my father to synagogue on the Sabbath. I loved the Hebrew songs and had most of the Siddur, the prayer book, memorized by the time I was five. 

My family was highly respected. Judges, senators, police commissioners, famous psychiatrists, psychologists on Oprah, professors at Harvard and Yale, even a world-famous art dealer who regaled us with stories about Salvador Dalí. Everywhere I went, people told me how “lucky” I was to be a part of this family. 

We were Levites and often called to read from the Torah. But when we came home from synagogue, the traumas of my father’s childhood surfaced. He commanded me to go to my room, pull up my shirt, and lie on my back. I tried to roll over but he wouldn’t let me. He pulled off his belt, screamed his rage at the world, and then whipped my bare tummy. He whipped it again and again, until it was blood red and I couldn’t breathe, sometimes for 30 or 40 seconds at a stretch.

Over time, the punishments became more severe. I reached out for help many times but no one in the community would listen. He was just too “respected.” I ran away many times. For my entire life, my body shook whenever his car pulled up in the driveway, and for decades I was treated for sleep and digestive problems.

In the midst of all this, I was entranced by our Rabbi’s sermons. He was a fiery speaker who loved the prophets — those lone voices that bravely stood up to power, that exposed the hypocrisies of the times, and that reminded us, through the most sublime poetry, that we humans are capable of so much better. 

This became a pattern, repeated for five decades. The situations and people change, but not the underlying pattern — conflicts with authority, an awareness that people can act like saints in public but monsters in private, and work that disrupted the status quo.

In my teens, my work was featured on the front pages of hundreds of newspapers — including the Wall Street Journal — for exposing how the casinos in Atlantic City were allowing us to gamble. In my twenties, my work was featured on the cover of TIME — for exposing how Internet pornography was becoming an instrument of addiction and feeding a culture hostile to women.

After the TIME cover — you can read The New York Times account here — I realized I had some soul searching to do. In my thirties, I became a yoga teacher, then a Zen Buddhist, then I opened my heart to Christ. I tried everything. I had many great teachers and was trained in many lineages. 

In my forties, bad luck. Or maybe destiny. I contracted a seemingly lethal combination of toxic mold poisoning and lyme disease. I could not climb more than a few steps, was four times in the hospital, and needed a wheelchair for shopping. Dozens of doctors did their best, but they believed my immune system was beyond repair and told me to prepare my will. 

hyperbaric, infusions, hospital

In the midst of all this, my father attempted suicide twice. Stories of abuse from other family members began to surface. My mom divorced him and I changed my name. This was no ordinary brokenness… This was the breaking of an already broken self. 

As a last ditch effort, a team of holistic doctors gave me over 400 infusions, transfusions, and experimental treatments that left me incapacitated for days. Miraculously, I was healed — but not just at a physical level. Something shifted inside. I was a caterpillar all my life, lost in darkness, beyond all hope… then suddenly I discovered that I had wings.

In my fifties, the InnerNet. An unexpected, nonlinear, quantum social breakthrough… birth of a new language, a new iconography… splitting of the “inner atom”… an inner Cambrian explosion …