Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
Someone once said ‘there was no such thing as a problem, only a decision’. “How beautifully simple,” I spat out so sarcastically even I felt sick. Sure problems could be seen as decisions, but I didn’t just have one problem I had an entire life full of them. My head pounded away. I tried letting things be and unfold of their own accord, but that made me feel even more powerless and out of control. With nowhere else to turn other than myself, my aura ignited into flames. Frustration begat anger begat rage begat self-belittlement begat humiliation begat depression begat weariness begat sadness begat shame begat alarm.
With so many decisions demanding so much attention, I didn’t know where to begin. According to Krishnamurti there was another form of action not requiring thinking, but I didn’t know how to do it without thinking about it first. With my mind ablaze, I left it for another day when I could afford the luxury of figuring out how to not think.
In the meantime, I tried focusing my mind away from nebulous concepts to more specific matters like quitting drugs, getting a job, a house, renewing friendships, people, the environment, war and hunger, but that still felt too vague. So, I narrowed them down even more to being real, in the moment, about me, my needs and correct. Yet even that even seemed vague and more qualitative than practical. In treatment, we’d had to put aside feelings and just do it! While I didn’t like dismissing my feelings, it had worked back then albeit temporarily. And any success was a plus in my books right now. If I could just figure out where to begin maybe the rest would follow, step by step. Yet the thought of turning to myself for help was just too depressing.
That time instead of dismissing my feelings, I held on to them and traced them back to those felt when cleaning up my messy room. As I stood there trying to figure out why it had to get messy in the first place, the realization sank home. Trying to figure out why was stopping me from doing anything about it! It didn’t make sense! Why didn’t knowing why get anything done?
In a flash of insight, I saw how they were connected by what they represented: the discipline learned when overwhelmed by conflicting thoughts and feelings. On the one hand I could clean it because I wanted it clean and on the other because of someone else’s needs. I couldn’t believe something as trivial as cleaning up a room could have such far-reaching effects. It seemed too simple a concept, but who said things always had to be so complex? How many other ‘trivial’ things hadn’t I learned? According to Jesus, even the ‘mightiest oak began with the littlest acorn’. Was this my acorn? Glad to be alive and unhurt, I felt grounded and closer to my goal than before.
With my newfound technology and a place to begin, I wanted to go back to the beginning and undo all my wrongs and make them right. So I set off like a happy backpacker past human, ape, mammal, cell, chromosome, gene, DNA, atomic, subatomic, nearly puking from the ad nauseum. Where was this I, this me, through which all actions transpired? Krishnamurti believed the source of all conflict was that ‘I was not I’. Even its contradiction: ‘not I was I’, implied everything I believed about myself wasn’t true either.
According to set theory, intersection brought two things together while maintaining their uniqueness. But what could possibly exist at the intersection of two contradictory tautologies? I was lost, yet surprisingly felt better. It was as if knowing what I was and what I wasn’t held some value in finding the real me. Did that mean what I wasn’t, wasn’t really a negative, but a positive!? Unless mathematicians had changed the way arithmetic worked in recent years, even I knew the sum of two positives was greater than a positive and a negative. On the feeling level my believing I was something I wasn’t, was just false pride.
Doubt arose diluting the excitement. Even if I was given a new lease on life, did I have to repeat the same things over and over again? Wouldn’t I just end up back in the same place? Even if I could change my past, I’d still have to drag it into the present to change it into a new future. As I peered across the span of my being, neither past, present nor future were visible. I was lost, but so close at the same time. Wringing my hands together, my soul heaved, cried, laughed and hurt in one monstrous emotional movement. Even with years of emotional experience under my belt I’d never felt anything like that before.
As if I’d been heard, the Universe came to my rescue. A beacon of light appeared in the distance then grew nearer until it hovered in front of my face. Its significance let no room for doubt I was to begin right there in front of me. Yet the intellectual aspect of me needed to know how long it would take, when and what to expect and a million other unanswered questions before actually proceeding. Ina vision, a front-loading washing machine appeared full of clothes. As they turned and were cleaned so too were the contents of my mind. That was only one load and I had a lifetime of laundry to do! How long would it take and what about the heaps of laundry from my other lifetimes? Did I even have enough change?
While time was useful to learn, build and create things, what if inner cleanliness wasn’t solely based on profit margins? Jesus himself had said: ‘what profiteth a man if he loseth his soul’. If my soul was being cleaned did it depend on man-made concepts of time? Feeling like I was getting way too deep, I chirped out a little ditty: ‘follow your nose, it always knows….’ How unnerving my life should be in the hands of a cartoon puffin!
Angry erupted at the useless heap of flesh called my body. “Get off your ass and do something, anything. It doesn’t get any more serious than this.” I cursed myself for doing nothing, then stopped. I couldn’t believe it. I sounded just like my dad! Paracelsus was right: ‘we must come to love that which we dislike’. I thought I wanted to get better, but even with a place to start I still didn’t know what to do. I was stuck. Believing I’d short-circuited myself into a state of irreparable damage, I lowered my head in shame..
Suddenly my hands became bathed in a soft white light. I felt torn between the irony of using them for my own demise and feeling worthy of the Universe’s attention. Like a hammer that could be used to build or destroy, I’d taken for granted the power bestowed upon me. Rage reared its ugly head, but dissipated with the realization it changed absolutely nothing.
Around laid the monstrosity I’d been too embarrassed to call my life. Physical pain throbbed, emotions pounded and thoughts bludgeoned me into nothingness. Yet even that was a lie. There was still the wreckage of my life. “No more,” I cried, “no more. I can’t take it anymore. Please. I …” ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah. Poor Mike, always sorry after the fact. Look at yourself. Look at what you’ve done – and now you’re sorry? Hmmph!’ I would’ve puked had it not required effort. I mentally screamed out for help, but who’d want to help me repeat the same shit over and over again? I wouldn’t. I’d cried wolf far too many times. I mumbled curses at myself and more curses for mumbling curses. “Here we go again….” Unable to stand being with my pitiful self anymore, I slithered to a nest of recycling bins to hide my public display of losing it.
Frustrated in my attempts to be normal, my energy seeped through a dark core before dissolving into a shimmering goldenness. Excitement came and went as a large gray shadow appeared eclipsing my golden vista. It grew cold and dark. “Move,” I screamed with whatever little energy I had left. With my attention fully focused on it, I forgot everything else. What was I asking it to move for? Any remaining scraps of energy seeped out with a huge sigh. Nothing remained, not even for self-abuse. Even the relief from apathy couldn’t help me anymore; I had nowhere to go, no one to see and nothing to do. Alarm bells sounded at my inability to lift even a finger to save my own life.
With no meaning behind anything anymore, my stomach growled. I thanked God for the primal gift of hunger if for nothing more than the reminder there was still something alive that needed feeding.
I instinctively got up to go home, then realized I didn’t have one anymore. Now without a home the simple task of eating became Herculean. I collapsed back on the ground as a school of piranha-like emotions ravaged my carcass. Even they had something to feed on.
Seizing hold of my remaining faculties, I jumped to my feet and made the snap decision to eat at my last place of work. At least there the food would be good and the bosses wouldn’t be around.
Taking several deep breaths I entered. The setting couldn’t have been more perfect: a lone waiter showed me, his lone customer, to a lone table off to a lone side. I ordered right away to minimize further contact and headed straight for the washroom to wash the traumatic lamination from my face. I dared to look in the mirror and smiled. In an uncharacteristically gentle manner I told myself to be gentle with myself. ‘Michael. Don’t worry about tomorrow, just today. ‘Just for today’ remember. ‘Just for today‘….”
I returned to a piping hot pasta dish, which I ate as if in competition with a pig. Not knowing when or where I’d be able to wash again, I revisited the washroom and did a more thorough job. With my hair still dripping wet, I paid the bill, eluding strange looks from the waiter. Yet I was a curious cat. Keeping the voices at bay, I peeked and saw how I thought I was being perceived. Suddenly an alarm bell rang and I felt a sign around my neck. I knew what it meant. It read: LEPER!
© Michael J. Varma, The Gong Show, 2011 –
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