Invitation to a Beheading ( from the archives)

I used to love sitting alone in a chair and reading a good book. Nothing brought me greater pleasure. I would read a novel a day while enjoying the background sounds of birds chirping and cats meowing. Nothing was as effective in diminishing my stress and anxiety as a good book. No matter how bad the conditions of the world or my life- the printed words on a page could lift me out from my psychological squalor and re-plant me in a space of wonderment. I look back upon these times with utter envy. I even become emotionally enraged towards the man I was in my twenties. I am not only jealous of the large chunks of time that he had to drift of into the pursuit of knowledge but I am furious that it has all gone away.

Now I cannot read a book without having to get up and do something after twenty minutes. I become aggravated, nervous and I am distracted by these demons that seem to be hovering over me and disrupting my concentration. My thoughts begin to race and I struggle to stay focused upon what ever story or non-fiction work I have chosen to read. But no sooner than I can get past a few pages is there the loud voices of little demons that whisper scary things into my ears and poke sharp objects into my chest making me fearful what might happen next. I try to tune them out and push them away with positive visualizations or a smile- but they are ferocious and do not easily relent.

I know nothing good lasts forever, but there are still so many books left that I want to read. I want to return to that time when I could read peacefully for hours, day upon day- without the little brats whispering in my ear: “is your heart beating irregularly?” or “shouldn’t you be doing something more constructive.” Some times these little demons keep shouting things at me like “watch out, watch out- your head might explode!!” or “run, run, run for your life…death is coming, ha ha!!” My own inner monologue is not loud enough to silence these intruding voices and rather than continuing to read I give up and go do something else.

I have not been able to read a book from front to back for months. These little intrusive demons are getting the best of me. They also sneak into my head when I go for walks and drive my car. If I am not constantly reciting a mantra in my mind or singing a song- they will sneak into my silence and cause me great anxiety and grief. The little demons are wearing me down, forcing me to drink more wine and taking me away from the one thing that has always been of great importance to me- my intellectual life.

Without my practice of diligent daily reading my intellectual acumen has become as watered down as a cheap cocktail. I have not been able to think or write upon the great themes of philosophical dialectics or cultural theory like I had once planned upon doing. I have not been able to write great novels that compare with the best of works by Tolstoy, Kafka or Bernhard. I have not been able to go into my career as an honorable college professor who specializes in Ontology and Samuel Beckett. Rather- to defend myself against these little demons and attempt to save my own life I have had to go towards the New Age. I have had to practice meditation, do Yoga, recite mantras and start wearing beads and stones to defend myself against negative energy. I have had to seek out healers and been told by many that I must get out of my mind and start to become more grounded in my body. The very thing that I put so much work into cultivating has become my demise. My intellect has become the very portal from which these demons can access my nervous brain causing me such scary afflictions as to make me consider taking medication. These voices and disruptions get louder and louder every day- if it continues I may send out invitations to my own beheading.

photograph by Keith Purdy.

In a Puddle of Mud

‎”The key to the mind is in my hand and I can turn it in any direction” — Maharajji

I have been going through quite a tempestuous time in my life. This morning I awoke early to take the dog for a walk. The negative ions hovering in the morning air rushed into my nose the moment I stepped out the front door. The dog and I walked, both of us unfolding into life like lotus buds that had been wilted all night. There were puddles all over the ground from the week’s rain but my dog and I made our way through them. As I walked I felt my mind go numb, my left leg was sore and my will weak. I walked slowly, almost hobbling, with my dog looking back at me wondering why I would not go faster. As we walked across a grass field I came upon a large puddle that looked more like a bath tub filled with mud. As I got closer to its lip, without hesitation, I let the dog’s leash go and allowed my body to fall forward into the unknown.

When I came through I was resting face first in a puddle of mud. I floated on the surface of the puddle like an infant in amniotic fluid. My ears were beneath the mud so I could only make out the muted sounds of my dog’s concerned bark. I floated there for a moment, feeling still and at ease. I kept my eyes closed and imaged that I was levitating, hovering just above everything that had become my life. When I could no longer hold my breath any longer, I got up onto my knees and wiped the mud from my face. Particles of dirt caused my eyes to tear and as I got up onto my feet, for a moment I had a difficult time finding balance. My dog was smiling, jumping around, hopping up and down as if he was seeing me for the first time. It was not yet nine in the morning and I was already covered in mud. After a search that took a minute or so, I found my dogs leash and the two of us continued on with our walk.

A Brief Philosophy of the Lone Ant

This morning I was watching hundreds of ants marching in line. Their organization and conformity reminded me of humans. Then there was this one ant that strayed off the path. He wondered around on his own in a kind of confused daze. It was obvious that he was tired of following the pack and wanted to go off on his own- but he was not quite sure where to go. For a moment my attention drifted to something that was going on outside my window. I stood up and accidentally stepped on the lone ant. As I looked down at the squished ant all I could think was “so this is how it goes.”