Story, Continued from Part 2 In Search of a Plan
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Click Here for Part 1 Something Had to Change
--by Mike Adams
On Sandia Peak, I stood entranced by the natural beauty surrounding me. Slowly, I let myself fade into the experience. The grandeur of this desert inundated my senses, it stripped me of significance. The pettiness of my life’s concerns seemed to carry no greater import than that of an ant, living by instinct, working only to serve a collective. My thoughts slowed and the situation transformed me into a mass of awareness. I experienced my breath, slow and steady. I felt the wind flit upon my face and I watched in amazement as the colors danced in the distance as landscape transformed into mirage.
The tension swirling around in my abdomen, a manifestation of anxiety continued to surge through my core, but it no longer harassed me. I drank heavily of the deep blue sky and absorbed every detail of the cumulus cloud formations dispersed across the horizon.
I felt a tear roll down my cheek and slowly, I began to cry. But my tears brought no relief. I clinched the hand railing of the viewing platform and cried a little harder as my thoughts became jumbled with questions like, “why can’t I keep a job?” “Why didn’t I finish school?” “Why am I such a loser?” “What can I hope to accomplish in life?”
I found my thoughts focused on an incident from two and a half years earlier. I had been sitting with a group of friends at La Posada, the University cafeteria. We had been out playing hackey sack in the sun and realized that cafeteria would soon close. We hurried to get lunch and upon arriving at the cafeteria, I realized that I was in possession of two beers. Quickly, I tucked them into my baggy pants pockets and went in.
After eating my food, I stealthily opened a beer and began to drink it slyly. A friend looked at me with a mischievous smile and said, “Mike...dude, you’re an alcoholic.” He laughed, held up a flier to my face and continued, “you gotta go to AA Bro.” Then he quickly scanned the area for University staff, and took a quick swig of his own hidden beer. Johnny had been joking, but what he said ruined my enjoyment of lunch. His words harassed me for the remainder of that day and continued to assault my consciousness at the most inopportune times. I knew he was right. He had been joking, but his statement was true—I was an alcoholic.
The last thing in the world I wanted to be was an alcoholic, because I knew it meant I would someday have to give up drinking. Drinking had been my only comfort during many dark times. It had proven to be a dependable and convenient companion. I sometimes wondered if perhaps beer had saved my life. Quitting was out of the question, and therefore, being an alcoholic was completely unacceptable.
Disdainfully, I thought, “Why do I always land on this thought?” I shook my head and brushed the thought aside. “How could I be an alcoholic after only three years of drinking? That is just stupid!” I felt the tears slide down my cheek and the wind blow my hair about. “How can I go on like this. I don’t know how to live life, I don’t know how to make friends and I don’t know how to be happy.” I stared at the trees and rocks below and imagined what it would feel like to jump from the viewing platform. I imagined how it would feel to spread my arms and take to the sky as my last defiant act in life.
But I was afraid to die, terrified in fact—I couldn’t do that, not now. I stood there for hours, looking out, over the Albuquerque basin. I walked along the ridge, examined the foliage and waited for an inspired thought. Sunset came, and I watched the volcanoes on the West side of town swallow the sun. Then, the stars began peeking out from behind the darkening veil of night, and still I sat there, aware of the singular fact that something had to change.
“I’m going to stay here until I know how to proceed. There has to be a way to improve my life,” I thought. So there I sat, my mind contorting to various thoughts, my senses absorbing the nature around me, all of this observed only by the night stars. Finally, I stood and said aloud with conviction, “I have to leave. I have got to get out of Albuquerque, I have to make a fresh start.” I knew that I couldn’t return after a few weeks, this time, I had to stay gone, so I decided that it was time to hit the road. With this, Willie Nelson began singing to me about being “On the Road Again,” and I knew I’d have to make it work, I’d have to figure out how to live, I’d have to find success.