Freedom

•November 5, 2012 • 2 Comments

What is it that you take for granted? I know that I took everything for granted. It was all just my due as a well off white dude living in the ‘pinnacle’ of civilization. Of course, I took time to be grateful now and again. We all do.

The simplest things are so precious. A cup of coffee in the morning, fresh brewed and earthy; A good meal full of nutrients and amazing flavors; A night of sleep uninterrupted; A walk in nature, among birds and flowing water and unimpeded sunshine. These are blessings.

And these are just the most basic of the joys that life has to offer. What of friends? Of family? Of the genuine companionship of other humans that struggle daily with the same sorts of things that I do? These things give meaning to the basics of survival.

Four and a half months ago, I lost all of that.

In a hypermanic episode, I made extremely poor decisions that resulted in my incarceration in a County Jail in California. I will not exaggerate when I say that it was a nightmare. Every move I made, every breath I took, every meal I ate was basically under the control of an external influence. It was not dignified; it was barely human. Even discounting the influence of guards, rules and regulations, there was a definite aspect of danger from the rest of the inmates. I had to be on constant guard that I did not say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing. A man had his jaw promptly broken for saying the wrong thing.

In this particular post, I won’t go into why and how I got there, except to say that I had been treating depression when my actual problem is bipolar disorder. I was in the throes of a manic episode wherein it wouldn’t be too far from the truth to say that I thought I was the King of the World. Or at least making damn good progress toward that goal. I will be seeking help for that condition.

On October 22nd near midnight, I was released into downtown Sacramento with basically nothing. That night, wandering in the rain, speaking to the homeless, trying to figure out what the hell to do next, I was struck by one thing. However bad off I was with my freedom taken, there are people out there who had no one when their time of trial came.

They are still out there. I was terrified of becoming homeless. Honestly, I still am. But providence has intervened for me and amazing friends have reached out and helped me with the day to day as I try to prop my life back up.

The image of the snake eating it’s own tail is an image of self-inquiry. The Ouroboros tells us that our Consciousness is in a process of trying to understand itself, and as it does so, time does not stop. Our understanding of ourselves in a very real sense consumes us. The unexamined life is not worth living. I don’t remember who said that, but it is a valuable thing to remember. Know thyself said the Oracle at Delphi.

With a loss of physical freedom, I was forced to reexamine my life. This time with brutal honesty. No superhero stuff. No mania and delusional thinking. Just reality. And to be honest, the reality is stark. I have lost a lot. But what stayed with me is far more than just stuff. What stayed with me is Who stayed with me. People who cared for me. My wife. My daughter. My friends. All things I took for granted before. And far more important than good coffee and a steak dinner. They are all I have now. And it fills me with hope.

There are things even the State can never take from you. And those things are also forms of freedom. They can not take your intelligence. They can not take your compassion. They can not, ultimately, take your humanity unless you actively surrender it. And many do.

But the real lesson of freedom is that we are not islands in this world. Our freedom depends on a basic principle that can not be trumped: Love. Our interactions, our connections with the people in our lives that we love are and forever will be our true source of freedom. And I had that even when I was behind a locked door under constant video surveillance.

I am Free now and I intend to stay that way, knowing the true value of it. I have a lot of stuff to share about the experience and my other thoughts on life. That is what I need to be using this blog for, so I shall. Perhaps I can purge some of the worst parts of my experiences, shine luminous light on the best parts of my experience and transmute this into something better than dross.

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Ouroboros

•November 5, 2012 • Leave a Comment

ouroboros