More than a week ago I found myself sprawled on my bed in the late evening, having worked my last night shift of the run and remaining dopily awake all day, half-engaged in all my main addictions including a massive multi-player video game which I accidentally fell into on Christmas Eve, not understanding what it was.
I’d eaten a ridiculously large, skanky meal from a ridiculously large skanky restaurant chain who charges far too much money for grotesquely cheap food in order to stuff corporate pockets. I used a gift card which Mom gave me for Christmas.
I lay there feeling ridiculous. I could have slept on this day and then risen and did some writing or any other productive endeavor on my massive list of joyful to-do’s. I might even have dusted my room or had a shower.
At this moment as I drained the last of the cheap wine and made a half-assed clearing of my bed so that I could finally go to sleep, I thought of Neo and Aqualad and even young Master Prism; people in my life with such bright qualities and strengths and so much potential but yet such burdensome apparent problems weighing them down; problems which to me should not be daunting.
Why have I not helped them through? Why have I not been more effective? Why have my strengths not been leveraged enough to the people around me that they would be more fully ahead of the game and not seemingly behind in some areas!
Why have I not been more helpful?
Looking at the stained wine glass, the twinkling coins on the lap top screen. Dusty bookshelf. The day’s clothes slung over the bedposts. My own ridiculous belly. Plastic containers (really?) of smelly bacon carbonara remnants; the crappiest goddam pasta in all of Scooterville; a half step up from Kraft Dinner, and also the most popular in all of Scooterville thanks to the unending plague of human insanity and the disease of corporate worship.
What in the fuck has become of me? How can I help other people when I have betrayed myself?
I felt a long cool wave of clarity as I prepared for sleep. I felt a deep, still sense of love. I felt a new certainty that changes were coming. I started making plans and then eased up. There was no great excitement here. No great hurry after all. Just a shift in the atmosphere.
And things have indeed been changing since then. Some small steps toward better health and weight loss. Small improvements in discipline. An exit strategy from this bewitching video game which has suddenly lost some luster.
Of greater impact: A wholesale change in online habits. Greater thoughtfulness and patience. Gentleness. My innate reactions have now been to pause; to deny the provocations of emotion; to trust in presence. And the presence has been coming and confirming the choices not to act out. Clarity hasn’t generally come quickly or perfectly, but it comes in its various forms.
I find myself pausing in parking lots to examine the sky and feeling really joyful at the miracle of this biosphere; this incredible privilege; these highly improbable tiny brilliant moments!
At work I have been watching the squirrels, talking to the rabbits. Pausing on the early morning patrol to stand and stare into the striking orange neon strip over the lake. What a heavenly planet this is!
I feel a renewed confidence with regard to writing craft, and a willingness; a keenness even - to jump back into projects without those former reservations.
On our hike the next morning The Healer nodded to all of this. “You have to have your own life in balance in order to help others achieve balance!” So the woo-woo tribe is on board.
It occurs to me that various figures – generally it’s hard to say to what degree they were real and to what degree fictional – who are credited with experiences similar to some of mine, have experienced a pattern it seems: progress, a fall backward, and then finally a greater progress.
It occurs to me that I might be on that type of path or I may not. I’m not excited about it at all. I’m not hopeful. I’m making no presumptions. It is only a curiosity. And academically I must admit that that in itself is a positive sign.