The Sweet Taste of Life
What a difference a day can make! Within just a couple days of having written my last piece, The Sweet Taste of Death, I had an experience that reversed my position on that matter. I mean, I still stand by what I said in the essay, on the quality of one's life influencing one's behaviors and their manifestations as either destructive or productive, but I've changed my perspective relative to that paradigm. I value my own life more, is what I'm trying to say.
This is what happened. I was hanging out with a couple friends from work, smoking and drinking and just generally not being terribly healthy. I hadn't slept much in days, and was likely more fatigued than I realized when I decided to go home. I say I was drinking, but I'd only had half a beer and was not, in reality, drunk. I think I was mostly just sleep-deprived. And high.
As I was driving home, I started to feel as though I were disappearing. This has happened to me before. But this time it was more intense. I'm used to a sort-of spiritual heat coming over me and causing the perception of a dissolution of one body part or another. This happens to many people who use psychedelics, but it can happen to me when I'm just high or when I'm completely sober. I haven't tripped in about a year and a half. Sometimes I freak out when this happens, but if I've had a number of such experiences in close temporal proximity to one another, it doesn't seem as foreign and I'm more likely to just go with it. If ever I need to come down from it, I follow the advice of an older, wiser individual who once said, "Just stick your head in a freezer if you need to feel real again." I somehow make myself physically uncomfortable in order to feel myself.
This time, it wasn't working. I rolled down my window and stuck my arm out, gripping the roof of my car, hoping that the night air would bring me to full physical presence within myself. It didn't work. I began to feel as though my entire body were blipping out of existence, as though the nature of reality itself were coming apart within the seams of myself. Space and time became a physical streaming presence that was replacing me with itself, sending my consciousness into a state of black nothingness. I was terrified.
I realized that I was in an incredibly vulnerable state. I've heard of people blacking out while driving and nevertheless making it home safely, miraculously. However, being as I described in my last essay in a frame of mind that was somewhat suicidal, I couldn't trust myself in that moment not to manifest self-destruction. I felt that if I let go entirely into that moment, it could become my last. For me, this was a near-death experience.
In a panic, I pulled over into the (closed) CVS pharmacy that is probably no more than a quarter of a mile from my house. I decided that perhaps if I walked around, or ran, or did something physically involved, it would bring me back into my body such that I could drive home safely. I got out of the car and started to walk around. As I was walking, the disappearing feeling only heightened. I was losing time, and "browning out." It was like I was only able to witness every other moment. One second, I would be walking, the next would be black nothingness, and then I would see myself again in a different place in the parking lot that was more than a step away from where I had been. Except, time itself had dissolved, so there was no perception of a second-by-second play, but rather a realization that I was losing consciousness. My "self" was dissolving into the greater whole of the moment, but because I was more identified with my fears and my death drive at that time, my consciousness was displaced into nothingness.
I realized then that the greatest sin I had been committing of late was that of not loving myself or my life as they currently exist. I learned a long time ago that I must love every moment in order to have a fulfilled life. Still panicked, I started saying, "I love you, Moment," in the hope that this would redeem me and bring me to safety.
And it did, eventually.
I knew that I needed help of some sort. I'm not the type of person who asks for help until the stakes reach a certain level. Truth be told, I've been in desperate need of some kind of help for at least a month now. I've been slipping into oblivion and death because I've been depressed and dissatisfied at the ego-level of my existence. And I've been completely identified with my ego, at that. But, as it stood at that moment, it seemed inevitable that I would pass out. I didn't want to be alone when it happened. It was late at night, and I knew that the only person I could really rely upon was my brother, Stephen. I returned to my car to get my phone and call him.
After picking up the phone, I hesitated for a moment. Really, it was my ego, still damning me with its refusal to admit weakness. It imbued me with a vision of my greatest fear that would surely manifest if I called my brother. I would call him and ask him to come pick me up. As he was on his way, I would pass out. He would call my parents and they would rush me to the hospital. I would wake up in a bleak room, surrounded by doctors and family members and would be told that I had some terminal disease, cancer, maybe. Lots of tears and so forth, and everyone would pity me and see me as a dying person until I died.
Nevertheless I called him, because my greater Self took control and I couldn't do anything but call him. I said, "Stephen, I love you, and I need you to come pick me up." Without hesitation, he agreed, and I told him where I was and he headed out to get me. After the call, my fears were assauged, and I started to feel real again. I was still in a state of reduced-free will, but I could feel my body and I was no longer losing time. I began to rejoice at the instantaneous-ness of my recovery, and I started praising God, proclaiming myself as His, and speaking in tongues. I was waving my hands and dancing around in an ecstatic fit that I could not control. I was exuberantly happy to be alive.
Within no time, for me, literally, no time, Stephen arrived and I told him what had been happening. I asked him to take me to Wendy's, which was still open, so that I could eat something and come down further. He took me, and I got a salad and baked potato. On the way, he told me that he'd had experiences like mine before as well. We're both a little too interested in drugs.
He took me back to the empty CVS parking lot, and I ate and we talked a little. He reminded me of what I was supposed to be doing instead of hanging out with work friends. He said, in simple honestly, "So, basically, you ditched mom to go get high." It was the truth. I was supposed to hang out with my mom, and I got depressed, and didn't feel like I could handle her presence, so instead I went out in search of weed. Typical me.
I told Stephen that one of us would have to stop all this drug nonsense and get healthy soon, and that it should be me. He agreed. He told me that I needed to stop smoking cigarettes as well, and I agreed. I was, by this point, able to safely drive home, and so I thanked him and told him that if he ever needed me to return the favor, I would surely do so.
As I drove home, with the window down, I constricted my core muscles as to maintain my grip on the present. I made it home, completely safely, and headed for bed. I lit candles in my room, and laid down for a meditative rest. I felt the cleansing of the Spirit, and fell asleep without any trouble. I'd known that it was my destiny to sleep well that night, and so I did.
And since then, I have had a renewed interest in living. I'm still smoking, but I'm gradually weaning myself off of cigarettes (smoking Newport Lights, currently ;} ), and I've set a date for their complete cessation: October 15. I'm eating better, and have decided to return to my vegetarian ways, with the occasional exception of fish. I've started reading this amazing website called Christ's Way (http://www.christsway.co.za/, thank you David for the recommendation!), and a little bit more of the Bible. I'm feeling an elevation, a renewed interest in being at one with the Spirit, and a general satisfaction with everything in my life. I'm making peace with my past and enjoying the present, losing concern for the future and instead choosing to love myself into increasingly grander states of being.
Love and Life are miracles that are ours to have and share. Material circumstances are but illusions that can be mastered through the power of God's Love. How blessed I was to have a moment in which everything was nearly taken from me, so that I could wake the next morning with a revived appreciation for the beauty of All that Is!