Canvas Conundrum

Suddenly two canvases appeared: one I could paint with my mind, the other I assumed was with experiential knowledge. While the mental canvas appeared pure in its own right, it was dreamlike and incomplete. It was only one of the many rich aspects that made up experience. Just because it was difficult to imagine other discrete canvases didn’t mean the emotional, physical, spiritual and other aspects didn’t exist. What if they were part of a ‘meta’ canvas connecting all other canvases together under the Crayola-like colors of my chakra system? Then the cold grays of the industrialized world would merely be a consequence of concreting over my true colors. Whatever my canvas, it was more likely a scribble than a colorful masterpiece in the Louvre.

Feeling playful I painted a tree into existence with my mind. Energetic roots sent the nutrients of Mother Earth up through the length of its trunk into branches, twigs and leaves that shimmered with life. They formed a collective whole, an organism unto itself, much like the human organism from organelles and cellular evolution. Even though it was the most natural of things, using my personal palette felt like trespassing on hallowed ground.

Anchoring myself in the present, I let go and fell into a chasm of endless choices and infinite possibilities. A sphere of white light appeared in the distance. Using my feelings to discover its nature, I became the captain of a star ship sending out a space probe. It touched the light with the utmost caution sending back its findings and I surprisingly began to feel better. I repeated this process with increasing increments of trust until the connection between the light and my own intrinsic self-worth was undeniable. My entire being was inundated in a rich golden light. Sight once dulled by cobwebs, self-deprecations, pain and suffering now shone in tribute to its glorious nature. Was this sight in its most natural state?

I checked in with my other faculties: thoughts felt lighter and frolicked on the lush, green landscape of the mind with little or no impression. Feelings came to life in rich song moving my heart with untold joy. I felt clean – no beyond clean – pure. With eyes wide open a thought emanated from my mind and traveled on a ray of light into the distance. I stood breathless before the absolute magnificence of what was unfolding before me. At this point I didn’t really care if I was mad. It felt so much better than the insanity of the old me. In another flash the ignorance and gullibility that had been lurking in the shadows was laid bare. I hadn’t been invited to the party because Zack was looking out for me and my recovery!

A volcano erupted, sending shame-based emotions flowing like lava down the mountainside of my being. They burned with anger for losing sight of the most important things in my life: me and my recovery. Hot, sweaty and breathless, frenzied panic raged and stabbed away. My knees buckled at the irony of not being invited to his party because I was an addict, but because I wasn’t one! Defeated, I lay down and passed out.

Several hours later I awoke to my brain literally throbbing in the chemical pressure cooker called my head. I held it with both hands, nursing it, soothing it. I felt heavy, thought heavy and moved heavy. Trying to avoid spilling its viscous contents, I gave it a gentle shake hoping to impart some life back into it. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how many brain cells I’d lost in the exchange, but then again I didn’t really want to know. No, that kind of truth would’ve surely killed the rest.

I got up – slowly, and fixed myself a tasteless bite to eat more to fill the emotional void than any real sense of hunger. Voices chattered away in the remoteness of my being. With no energy to drag them into the present, “Maybe I didn’t have to go or get him a present, who would know?” I blurted out of nowhere. ‘I would know,’ answered the stillness. I lowered my head as my solar plexus audibly groaned. Torn between honoring sobriety and social obligations, a seasoned mental gymnastics routine earned me a perfect 10.0 for the perfect excuse. I could go to Zack’s party after an NA meeting, which luckily was taking place that same night! As coincidence became divine intervention, I reasoned I was meant to be at the party just like I was meant to go to NA.

In another flash, I was sitting at the meeting: listening, sharing and agreeing, you know all the right stuff people did at meetings. I didn’t care if it was real or not, I just wanted to feel good, alive, alert and invincible enough to at least be able to handle the party. With Zack looking out for me, I couldn’t lose if I threw in a birthday present as well. That’s what friends were for, right?

I glowed, as a warm chemical discharge flowed up through my neck and into my brain. This time, however, I wasn’t afraid. The party would take care of any biochemical reaction to social isolation. Besides, with my psychological health at stake, I had no choice but to go. It was settled.

Blanketed in chemically induced warmth, I gloated at my ingenuity, but that wasn’t all. No, the real beauty was that Zack hadn’t even had to lift a finger – I’d done all the work for the both of us! I checked and rechecked all the variables out of formality than really having to. Nothing was wrong … not anymore. Sporting a Cheshire Cat-like grin I sat back, lit a cigarette and blew smoke like I was a somebody. As a matter-of-fact, in that moment I was a somebody: I’d saved a friendship from demise.

From my fifteenth floor balcony, I peered down at the people scurrying about their pettiness. “No wonder they were so small,” I mused, “they weren’t nearly as smart as I was…”

© Michael J. Varma, The Gong Show, 2011 –

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael J. Varma and The Gong Show with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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