Trusto and his friends have arrived at the Sunburst Ashram, the fabled retreat in Telluride. The six-day seminar, called “The Essence of Me,” is a life changer. And at only $4,600 per person, it’s more like a spiritual investment than anything, Trusto says.
What a busy, exciting week it will be for Trusto! The chef is doing his third annual Kale Festival. The keynote speaker has over a million views on TED. There are the Ayurvedic, reiki, and Thai massage therapies, the fire-pit meditations, the hot yoga, chakras, and kundalini healing. Trusto can’t wait for the “Awakening Your Inner Guru” session to cap it all off at the end.
If you’ve never heard of Sunburst, well, it’s all make-believe, unlike the dozens of lavish sanctums, spas, and meditation centers from Mendocino to Vermont that cater to spoiled trustafarians. Nonetheless, even trust-fund hipsters with zero self-awareness might catch the drift and vibe.
Most everyone on the terrace this morning is in a Patagonia pullover. Together they make a rainbow of chalk gray, sage green, and lavender. A few women wear orange Lululemon yoga crops. Everyone links arms and laughs and dances in a circle, like one big community of teddy bears.
Except the folks at Sunburst are not teddy bears. They are thirty- and forty-something trustafarians, each with millions of dollars of inherited money in the bank.
It’s Wednesday. But no one at Sunburst cares precisely what day it is. The day that matters is the third of the month, when, rain or shine, the helpers in the Private Client and Trust department — the suits, Trusto calls them — make the direct deposit for income.
Trusto has never really bothered to look into the bonds, equities, and real estate behind that deposit. He is busy making music with the cosmos. His helper takes his infrequent calls with a friendly, reassuring voice. She does not mind. That’s her job. She keeps Trusto from becoming a Person Who Must Work, which is his recurring nightmare.
Trusto learned the walk at Hotchkiss, when he discovered he had shiny new stuff and the big, often empty apartment in the East 70s that all the other kids wanted. And he had the weed. Great weed. Top sativa, always. Trusto had the best. Trusto insists on the best and always has.
Mom and Dad’s moral universe wasn’t that great, that’s true. Make that Moms and Dads, since Trusto grew up in what we politely call a blended family. Mom and Dad were much more concerned with their tennis partners and the big place on Long Island than with Trusto, who was off at boarding school and camp most of the time.
Dad — who is now dating a girl Trusto grew up with — is a lost cause. That’s part of the pain, Trusto thinks. And on that, he’s absolutely right.
Trusto couldn’t make the family foundation meeting this year. Sorry about that! He had a scheduling conflict, rafting in Idaho. Last year, he was surfing at Bixby Ranch. The year before, there was kayaking in Fiji and windsurfing in the Grenadines. Then of course there’s Burning Man, which rules out most anything in early September.
At Sunburst, Trusto is healing his wounds. In the Psychodrama Workshop yesterday he came clean on his family’s earth crimes. “Gaia’s serial rapists,” he called his grandparents in a flash of insight, begging forgiveness and breaking into tears. His Guide told him afterward his role-playing was “heroic” and “brave.”
Trusto always likes hearing stuff like that. He likes it too when the guest speakers are jokey and not on a heavy authority trip.
Should anyone who has done something with his life wonder what Trusto is up to now, Trusto replies, “It’s not the destination but the journey.” He might remind them with a winsome, nonchalant smile — and absolutely no irony — that raising human awareness is a full-time job.
If anyone actually challenges his dependency and greed, Trusto goes glacially icy and cold. “Hey, man, what’s wrong with you?” he sneers. “I don’t have time for this crap.” Trusto stops being a teddy bear.
After all, he is saving the planet and watching his carbon footprint. He is fighting refined sugar and self-poisoning. He is building a better America, crushing gender stereotypes, and struggling against the Machine and the Man. He is, proudly, a veteran of Occupy Wall Street.
With each reinvention and star turn Trusto expects the world to gasp at his preternatural creativity, the way a child might demand his parents to admire a sandcastle or poster paint school project. There was the organic basil farming idea and the save-the-turtle conservancy concept. But the hustle sucks up a lot of juice, Trusto often thinks to himself. Keeping such thoughts private is for him a kind of noblesse oblige.
When little people have to meet a mortgage or worry when the stock market tanks, Trusto may think for an instant, you poor loser, but he never— ever — says this out loud. Negativity spoils his bliss. It damages his inner space. He is empathetic instead over his mid-morning steamed-milk cappuccino.
“Too white,” on the other hand, is one of Trusto’s favorite phrases. He uses it all the time to scorn any wholesome, normal, middle-class activity or tidy, low-crime neighborhood. Trusto feels a special bond with black people. Black Lives Matter! He read Soul on Ice at Hotchkiss and Howard Zinn at Wesleyan. He knows full well that America drips with irradicable racism and evil. Trusto is a citizen of the world.
But Trusto and his pals have been fencing out reality a little too long — and it shows. The terminal acedia is kicking in, along with middle age and thinning hair.
Why can’t the nation’s old establishment lead as it once did, by fact and example? Because too many malignant Peter Pans not only disdain the ministers and farmers, the builders and bankers, the jurists and patriots — in fact everyone and everything — that bestowed their vast privilege. Seeking endless adventure and a fabulous look, smug leeches and sanctimonious slugs feel no shame at their sponging. Biting the hand that feeds them makes them feel virtuous and purposeful. Hollywood and the Internet fill the void, trading elegance and simplicity for the showy and the squalid.
Coupon clippers are an old, sad story of course. But the leisure class of the past — while snobbish and self-pleased with its pedigree — at least defended order and decorum. For trustifarians, Protestant virtue, the work ethic, and self-regulating probity are not only déclassé. They are evils and hang-ups to be shunned.
Trusto looks down from the mountain at the gorgeous orange and pink sunset over the San Juan Mountains. He feels like Zarathustra on kale. He is above it all and in the clouds, which is exactly how he likes it.
It’s all coming together at Sunburst, Trusto says to himself, remembering that it’s the third day of the month — and the money’s in the bank.