Sunday, April 22, 2012
Something Had to Change...
--by Mike Adams
Twenty years ago, I owned a 1971 BMW R75 motorcycle. She was my most prized possession—I spent hours learning to adjust the valves, tune the ignition and replace the clutch.
On a regular basis, I polished chrome, cleaned lines and creases, and generally took great care with an eye towards detail as I maintained my ride. I loved that motorcycle so much, that I even named her Mindy. I had spent a great deal of time considering various names, when ultimately, I imagined Mindy would be the name of an exceptionally beautiful woman, so with that, I named my motorcycle and proceeded to worry about other matters of equal importance.
I worried about how to live life, you see, life was a constant struggle in those days. I was unhappy with my personal life and I felt that my work as a front desk clerk for a local hotel was horribly under appreciated. I had dreams of wild financial success coupled with incredible acts of philanthropic generosity, however, I thoroughly lacked the wherewithal to complete college. In fact, I enjoyed distilled spirits entirely too much, while I despised work too zealously to have any chance of fulfilling on my grandiose dreams. I drank every day, skipped sleep regularly and couldn’t force myself to attend class when enrolled in college.
Though I was a talented and intelligent employee, I brought with me the same lack of dependability that had ruined my college career. I was filled with a poor work ethic, and a boundless reservoir of self doubt. All of this was covered with a flimsy facade of self assured arrogance, which often worked against my interests and prevented me from meaningful self reflection. I couldn't tolerate solitude, but lacked the necessary social graces required to be around other people. All of my money was spent at a local bar named Chez What, where I sat alone each day.
Chez What was a quiet bar, with a good selection of beer. I liked the surroundings and particularly, I fancied the waitress, Sarah. I often thought, “tonight I’ll ask Sarah out”, but always, I ended the night by leaving the bar, too drunk to walk straight, having dodged the embarrassment of asking Sarah out in the midst of a drunken stupor. I would stagger to my motorcycle, climb on and ride home. In retrospect, fate must have smiled broadly on me for countless occasions as I rode home without incident or accident.
One night, after I finished work, I walked out and looked up into the open and broad New Mexico sky. New Mexico's night sky is an awe inspiring scene—a cornucopia of overflowing stars, each heavenly body adding to the inebriating magic, which is on no small part responsible for the state's phrase, "Land of Enchantment". The breathtaking scene, a humbling experience of beauty, can capture a person's imagination, leaving them forever changed.
On this night, I looked up, paused for several moments, sighed heavily—expressing a mixture of profound reverence and futile solitude, I shook my head, mounted my motorcycle, and rode off, ready to patronize my regular watering hole.
Arriving at Chez What, I sat at my usual table, and drank till my thoughts ceased or at least slowed enough that my mind could pretend to be at rest. This was a daily routine and though I sometimes would alter my drink orders, I usually started with six or seven gin and tonics, then maybe a few jello shots, and ultimately I’d finish with numerous beers. This pattern had become a well established rut and though I didn't often contemplate the futility of my life, I knew that the numbing effects of alcohol saved me from this grating existence. I was under the dominion of a despotic ruler ceaslessly destroying my future and shredding my hope.
So night after night, I sat there drinking and watching as happy couples or boyant groups of college friends cycled through the bar. I wondered about their lives, what were they like during the day? Could they possibly be as happy as they seemed? Always, I watched Sarah serve them and wonderd if perhaps tonight I'd work up the courage to ask her out.
Then, she’d bring me a refill, I’d smile and pass her some money and keep drinking until last call, when I’d order several more. I'd finish my drinks while the staff cleaned up and finally, the bartender would flash me a smile and say, “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here...it's closing time.”
On this particular night, I stood up from my usual seat, said goodnight to everyone and walked out to my motorcycle. I don't know what came over me, perhaps it was my communion with the night sky from earlier, perhaps it was a revelation that more was available to me. Whatever it was, I had a very distinct thought that night, which told me that something was very wrong with me...that my life was unacceptable and that something drastic had to change. I was immediately overcome with a sense of conviction and profound anxiety. I didn't have the slightest idea what to do, but I knew that something big had to change and it had to change fast or or I might lose my mind.
So I went home, curled up in my bed and went to sleep, thinking that I'd have plenty of time to figure out what needed to happen the next day.
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