--by Mike Adams
Continued from Something Had to Change - click here to read the first part of this story
My sleep that night, was restless. I awoke late the next morning, but felt neither refreshed, nor recovered from the previous night's binge. I stumbled to the bathroom and for perhaps the first time in working memory, I looked, not at my reflection, but at my true self. I didn’t like it either. What I saw, was a barely recognizable young man bloodshot and drooping, he wore a dour expression, which communicated defeat. I’ve heard that eyes are the window to the soul and if this is true, his eyes revealed a beaten old man whose exuberance for life, if ever he had any, had long since dissipated. He stood there, staring at me, terrorizing me. He was a withered and decomposing leaf, tormenting and taunting me to care, daring me to try and change. My head jerked away, I had to avoid prolonged exposure to the emptiness that had invaded me.
I turned quickly grabbed hold of the shower lever and twisted, setting free a stream of water, which would soon fill the room with steam and provide me with reprieve from the haunting visage in the mirror.
For as long as I can remember, showers have had an almost magical restorative quality. They provide relief to sore muscles, vitality to the sleepy, they can wash away the momentary horror of an uninvited personal confrontation. On this morning, the mixture of hot water, steam and soap did not fail me. I stepped from the shower with a restored sense of acceptance and when I looked in the mirror, the reflection was that of a young man trying to get clean for the day...the dreadful spectre of futility had left and I hoped he would stay gone.
The day proceeded as any other. I rummaged the house for sustenance and failing to find breakfast, I walked to the bagel shop. There I drank coffee and ate bread. I sat for hours and watched the patrons come and go. I examined each visitor and considered what tasks their busy lives had in store for them. I envied their sense of purpose and their apparent fulfillment in life.
Two years earlier, I had designed my life to include this free time. I had never intended to sit isolated and depressed each day, rather I had felt it important that I find time to contemplate matters of import. I fancied myself a philosopher, a revolutionary thinker and, at the time, I had needed to free myself from the constraints of “normal living” so I could focus on “my work”. As it turns out, I was to spend hours in solitude, even when surrounded by friends. “My work” somehow included alienating those who were closest to me and envying virtually everyone I saw.
It didn’t start this way. For a few months, I happily thought about topics of justice and human rights. I considered the minutea of racial inequality and contemplated how poverty entombed our class divide. My intent had been to write a credo, to create a message that could change the world. Within months, my musings increasingly shifted toward the mass of unfulfilled aspirations that a younger version of myself had dreamed. I doubted my ability to complete anything and my focus turned increasingly inward.
So though I had been a vibrant and inspired nineteen year old, two years later, I had thoroughly fermented. My thoughts had shifted from concerns about my fellow humans, to considerations of how I might keep my head above water and booze in my stomach.
The intervening two years, had seen me switch jobs three times, hitchhike to Colorado, try to start a new life there and then quickly return to my old life, my old habits and my old job. The only time I felt at ease, was when I rode my motorcycle through the mountains at dawn or on a moonlit night alongside the Rio Grande.
So there I sat, eating a bagel, when suddenly, I recalled the wrenching anxiety that had gripped me the night before. I remembered with mild horror, the revelation that I was deeply flawed and that something had to change. My words came back to me now, “tomorrow I’ll have to think about what to do next...I’m too sleepy and way too drunk right now!”
So I refilled my coffee cup and tried to recount what had happened. I needed to arrive at an informed decision about how to proceed. I thought for several minutes and then decided I ought to ride East to the summit of Sandia Peak, where my mind might be cleared. I finished my coffee, walked out into the late morning sun, mounted my bike and headed East.
As I rode out of Albuquerque, my mind kept focusing on the phrase, “there is something seriously wrong with me and it has to change if I’m going to survive”. This made me panic and I tried to vanquish the idea with all my will, but it kept crashing through my barriers and invading my conscious thought, insistent and intense, much like an early morning visit from the police.
Periodically, I would become overwhelmed with the high desert beauty, but my reverence was always interrupted with the same invasive question. I rode to the top of Sandia Peak and looked out over Albuquerque. I imagined Buggs Bunny taking a left and began to wonder where I should have gone left.
The summit at Sandia is stunning. You can see the whole of Albuquerque from there and you find yourself enveloped with a surprising number of colors, contrasts and hues. One might think of the desert as monotone, but here in the Southwest, it's as if an artist had skipped and danced about the rocks creating scenery that would stir long forgotten emotions, draw them from deep within our unconscious psyche and move us to tears...that’s just the way it is!
...A person can get lost in rapt adoration of the natural beauty and on the peak, the wind blows making you feel it’s possible to spread your arms and fly. To soar with a falcon above the frail existence of humans below—secure in the knowledge that we are insignificant. It is a humbling experience. It strips away pretense and self importance, so Sandia is where I went to think about life’s important decisions.
I stood there and gazed out over the city. I saw the volcanoes to the west. They protruded from the earth just past the city basin, where my home sat empty. I looked beyond...into the desert and ravenously devoured the experience. I stood there, transfixed, waiting for a clap of inspiration.
Continued: Sandia Peak, a Plan is Born