It’s like jumping over time. Tricking space. Being lost is the most immediate way to be free. This is why I try doing it as much as possible in this modern world where every one pretends to be found. I prefer not knowing where I am. Not knowing which way to go. Even when I know where I am I pretend that I am without a clue. Being lost for me is a form of salvation- a way to escape from the narrow confines of day to day life. A way to turn things on mute. When I am lost I am stuck in wonder. There is no wrong that I can do and I am free from all the critical judgements of my mind. Being lost for me is a form of therapy, a way to understand myself outside of time and space.
Certain individuals always say to me that they are worried because I always seem lost. “How are you going to maintain a normal job or have a family if you are always lost?” I am often asked. My employers look at me with concern because they are unsure where they can find me. It fills people with trepidation when you spend a lot of time being lost. They feel like they don’t know where to find you and this jeopardizes their own sense of safety and control. I am often faced with questions in the form of condemnations about being lost. “You are so forgetful you know?” or “When are you going to take responsibility?” I often times know that these judgements being expressed towards me are the pontifications of someone feeling out of control. But my intention in getting lost is not to make people anxious or worried, rather I get lost because it is fun.
It is hard to have fun when you get older. Fun can be worn out just like a pair of jeans. We need to drink more or eat more in order to feel the same pleasure that we did when younger. But one form of fun that has never thawed out for me is forgetting where I am. I have been doing it for years and the older I get the better I become at being lost. I relate this kind of fun to the pleasure an enlightened person must have being enlightened. When I am at lost I am free from the responsibilities and familiarities that dictate the course of my normal life. I no longer have to pretend and I enjoy the knowledge that no one around me knows who I am. Nothing seems to matter to me when I am lost other than the moment which I occupy with complete mindfulness. It is almost as if being lost for me is a meditation. An opportunity to set my perpetual thoughts aside and remain focused on the knowledge that I am finally free.
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.