Mark Matousek answers the question:

What is the nicest thing a non-family member has ever done for you?


That's such a good question, Phil. I'm one of these people who's been very lucky with the people I've known in my life. At times when I've most needed help, people have tended to show up. So I've been very blessed that way. 

There's one thing that happened that was so uncanny that I almost couldn't believe it at the time. I went through a period in my thirties when I was virtually homeless, I was a Dharma bum, I was living in India, and all over Europe, and really looking for who I was at a time when I thought that I might not be around forever. So there was a lot of pressure. There was a lot of poverty. 

I had a woman who used to prepare my taxes. And after my grandfather died, he left me just a bit of money, which I had given to her to take care of, and which I thought that I had exhausted. And then one month when I was going to lose my apartment, my phone had been turned off, I didn't have health insurance, it was really a bad time. My accountant admitted to me that she had taken a chunk of that money from my grandfather and put it aside for me without telling me that she had it. She really saved me from myself and it was an extraordinary thing. It was like manna from heaven. It prevented me from going over the edge. It was very unethical, actually, for her to have done what she did, but she did me such a huge favor. And I always felt that it was my grandfather, through her, who was coming to my rescue at a moment when I was truly desperate. 

So even though it's about money, which has never been the center of my world, it was a huge spiritual favor for me, because it helped me to finish my first book. It helped me keep a roof over my head. And I realized that people were taking care of me in ways that I wasn't at all aware of. It was a time in my life when I felt quite alone. So to know that there is somebody paying attention, and somebody who really gets you, because she knew that if I had that money, I would have spent it long ago and then I really would have been in trouble. So it was a mitzvah, as we say in Judaism, and I'll always be very, very grateful to her for doing that for me.


Mark Matousek is the author of two acclaimed memoirs, Sex Death Enlightenment: A True Story (an international bestseller) and The Boy He Left Behind: A Man’s Search For His Lost Father

... as well as When You’re Falling, Dive: Lessons in the Art of Living... Ethical Wisdom: The Search for a Moral Life... Mother of the Unseen World: The Mystery of Mother Meera... and Writing to Awaken: A Journey of Truth, Transformation & Self-Discovery.

A former editor at Interview Magazine, he is a featured blogger for and HuffPost, and has contributed to numerous publications, including The New Yorker, O: The Oprah Magazine (contributing editor), Harper’s Bazaar, Yoga Journal, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, and The Saturday Evening Post. His essays have appeared in many anthologies, including Voice of the New Millenium, Wrestling With the Angel, and A Memory, A Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer, among others.

A popular speaker and teacher, Mark offers courses in creativity and spiritual growth in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe, based on his book, Writing to Awaken. He's on the faculty of the Esalen Institute, 1440 Multiversity, the New York Open Center, The Garrison Institute, Omega, Kripalu, Mindvalley, and other institutions of higher learning. He's the founder of The Seekers Forum, a global online community focused on nonsectarian dialogue and exploration, and the president of Mark Matousek Media, a digital publishing company that promotes creative and spiritual excellence through online learning.

As a founding member of V-Men (with Eve Ensler), an organization devoted to ending violence against women and girls, he curates the V-Men essay series, an ongoing anthology featuring personal writing by men on the subject of violence against women.

Click here to visit Mark’s website.

Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.

This article appears in: 2020 Catalyst, Issue 22: Dreamwork Summit