They told me I died.
They said it was on the operating table.
They said my heart had stopped and they had to get it going again.
I might have had a vision or a hallucination, or a nightmare, that may have occurred while I was dead.
If I did, it probably went something like this:
I was hovering in air looking down in a dark deep place that looked like a cistern or well. The walls were there, I could sense them, but they were not that visible to me. The depth of the cistern felt like forever.
I was not alone, I was with myself.
With myself, all in pieces.
It took me ten years put myself back together, and all the King’s men could not be found.
It felt like an eternity in that dark and deep forever.
I could hear voices call down to me from time to time.
Maybe I did. Did I?
I just hovered and looked at my component parts for a very long time, maybe two years, maybe three.
For ten long years, I felt numb and like a man in Ellison’s story who needed to scream with no mouth available. I desperately needed to scream the primal of a wounded animal. The outcry of extreme rage masking a more extreme fear. A silent scream, that has never stopped, but can only be heard by me, and only in my day and nightmares.
Every day and every night for all these years.
45 years to be exact.
Perhaps if the silent scream ever stops, I will be dead again.
Perhaps the scream is what is keeping me alive.
I lived those ten years at the bottom of the cistern that felt like an abyss. A dark place can be a safe place. An existential and surrealist existence, not really a life.
I lived for ten years in a Hieronymus Bosch nightmare.
Day and night.
When the anger came to free me, I could almost embrace it. I had horrible visions of blowing up buildings and shooting humans who were abyss free. Shooting them indiscriminately, as a futile and desperate method of restoring my own humanity and inner balance.
I could not.
There was a still, small voice inside that soothed my rage and blanketed my fear. It was the same voice I heard when I was dead and on the other side. It said,
“He goes back. I am not done with him in that world. “
I might have spent less than ten years in that cistern had I been able to hear that voice again.
I could not. The silent scream was way to loud.
I did from time to time, argue with the wind, that what had happened, never happened TO ME.
Not to me.
Never to me.
And then I would look at the mess that had become my left forearm, and the silent scream would become all I could hear.
The depression was ever present. Like a toxic fog.
I knew I was walking through muck, wearing lead boots, under water.
Since I could not breathe, would not breathe, I could not even drown.
The component parts just lie there, at the bottom of the abyss.
I just could not believe that such bent and broken and twisted things, could belong as parts of me.
But what me?
So, I looked at them one by one.
The one advantage about being shattered and broken is that you can now rebuild yourself intentionally. Purposefully.
Tabula Rasa, but without complete emptiness.
I looked at my body all broken and never to be the same. Of course, I at first obsessed on all the things my now permanent handicap caused to be forever out of my reach. At first, that seemed like everything. After five surgeries, I left arm had the strength of a small child. The ulnar was forever broken. The bone graft had failed. It took a few decades to convince me that all was not lost, only some. I eventually found physical activities I could do, mostly right handed.
I looked at my mind that was numbed by prescription narcotics. I knew that I had to stand at the crossroads of hopeless addiction or face the pain both physical and psychic with out the chemical numbness. I did this in a house without any other human beings present. For two months I isolated myself, only letting family members bring me food and take my dirty laundry to be washed and returned.
It was during those two months I embraced old and dear friends. I made a companion out of a stack of my classic book collection, including the Christian Bible. Plato and Thoreau and Emerson and a few others became my only friends in those two months. I rebuilt my mind using the intellectual bones of souls long dead. It seemed safer that way.
At the end of the two months I was no longer under water. The lead boots and the mud remained.
I next had to face my anger at God for allowing such a thing to happen to me. I was after all, a very good pew sitter. I went to church almost every Sunday. Gave generously to the collection basket. What more was I supposed to do?
Then I remembered those words which spoke of my coming back for some divine purpose. My focus was no longer on why it happened but on what should and could and would happen next.
I forgave God for forsaking me.
But was left with a sense that my spiritual adventures would not be focused on brick and mortar location. Not primarily anyway. I have drifted in and out of numerous Christian churches these past 45 years. Much of my spiritual adventures have taken place in work environments, coffee houses and on the Internet, of all places. I knew I could not “Put new wine in old wineskins.” My faith having been restored, I knew that my belief system must be rebuilt from scratch.
I realized that true faith or trust, is based on absolute Truth. But beliefs are self-generated and relative to individual experience.
I once again, looked to the East.
I became a hybrid. Neither fully eastern or western in my thoughts. Not locked into any philosophy like those inorganized religion. Free to build a totally unique philosophical me.
That process is these 45 years later; still ongoing.
I look around me and see sleepwalkers who finalized their world view at about age 18 and spend time defending that world view and fighting against changing it.
Perhaps there is this blessing in being shattered and self-rebuilt, as the Buddha said, “I am awake.”
Al component parts are now functionally and autonomously rebuilt and are subject to continuous change as I live and breathe.
All except Affects. Feelings. Emotions.
Emotions are such a mystery, even now, today.
I am tempted to write that the human soul is that point at which the body and the spirit are melded by the mind, whatever that is.
The heart is physically, a blood pumping organ, no more.
The heart is also a poetic symbol for the innermost character of a person.
But I am thinking that the emotions are the synergy of the entire nervous system, and that is why the theory of the seven chakra appeals to me.
I can still see the bottom of the abyss, but I no longer exist there.
The silent scream now sounds like a tornado siren way off in the distance. Never ending but faint and far away, except when I am under heavy stress and duress.
In those days, I was controlled by my Demons. Then I named them:
Anger and Resentment. Guilt and Fear. Shame and Blame.
Anger shields Fear. Resentment protects Guilt. Shame and blame do their dance, never touching, always knowing it is the other one at fault.
I am these days, self-empowered in the “creator” things I do.
I assuage my demons when I write and when I paint.
It is “all good”, just not all the time.
Relaxing into acceptance is a process of telling “would of” and “should of” and “could of” to begone and never return.
It is what it is and can only be more if your will to power makes it so.
Primum non nocere.
Look it up.