I had some profound thoughts last night – actually early this morning. And as usual, I didn’t want to get out of bed to get them out of my head… and also as usual, now they’re gone. The essence still remains, but that essence can only be defined as a feeling – nebulous, indescribable and just out of reach. Although the presence of serenity, of wholeness and purpose has left an indelible mark, the words that produced it are lost. And this is, perhaps, as it should be, for today is a good day and new words are flowing from it.
For the past few days, I have engaged in some deep reflection; of my late teens, my high school days and what it all meant framed by my experience since that time. Although I believe I was happy, probably most of the time, I was still without direction. I set myself adrift on the sea of life with no heading and no power. I thought I was in control of my own destiny, but the reality is that my “control” was manifested in a lack of control. I went where the wind blew me – chasing short-term gratification never knowing I was sacrificing long-term serenity. What is it they say about hindsight?
Although that old adage contains a great deal of wisdom, it is not, in and of itself, enough for me to even begin to “figure it out.” It took so much more – the benefit of hindsight didn’t materialize until my life was smashing on the rocks. I needed to slow down and it has since become apparent that not only did I have no direction or initiative, my brakes were shot, too. I could not make any kind of reasonable assessment of my life until it nearly ended… and even then, it was a slow and painful process.
There are some who would account for what follows as delusional, unreasonable or just plain folly. Until October 17, 2000, I was among them. I had what I can only explain as a “spiritual experience.” There are other entries in this blog that go into much more detail regarding that near-death experience; I will not recount them here. But I will attempt to recount what that experience was. However, like the words that formed in my head last night – those that I lost to the universe – the words that could be used to describe that experience are long-gone, if they ever really existed in the first place.
As a result of the injuries I sustained in a wreck that cool October morning, I was heavily sedated for about five weeks. In the hours and days immediately following the accident (probably not the best choice of words), it was doubtful that I would survive. I really can’t say how close I was, but I do recall two different types of memories. Many were my perception of reality through the haze of the opiates they were pumping through my veins and the shock my body was in. I can, in retrospect, place some of the weird experiences and recollections with the actual reality I have learned about since.
But then there are the “others.” The specifics are foggy at best, but the overwhelming feeling that I was not only not alone, but also cared for… maybe guided, is undeniable. Again there are those, some of whom I love and deeply respect that would scoff and I understand; I was once one of them. When I came to, I told of wild tales and had too many questions. Most looked at me as though I was crazy and after a while, once my head had cleared somewhat, I stopped asking and I stopped telling. I knew these were my experiences and started to come to the conclusion that they were meant for me. I should have died and I didn’t – why?
I used to believe that spirituality was for the weak, for those who needed a crutch to explain their existence. But I was in control of my destiny - remember? I had no need for such foolishness; I was the master of my universe. However, that three-month hospitalization, if nothing else, showed me that for at least the immediate future, I was completely powerless. It was a profound moment, but it didn’t really hit me until much later, after I had again resumed control of my life - without direction and at full speed.
I woke up during a time when Tesla's cover of the song, Signs, originally released by the Five Man Electrical Band in 1970, was receiving a lot of airplay - an odd coincidence considering the song was then 30 years old and even Tesla's cover of it was 10 years old...
And the sign said everybody welcome, come in, kneel down and pray
But when they passed around the plate at the end of it all,
I didn't have a penny to pay, so I got me a pen and a paper and I made up my own little sign
I said thank you Lord for thinking about me, I'm alive and doing fine
It was that last line that became my mantra. It not only epitomized my resentment with organized religion, but gave me a way to connect without someone else telling me how to do it. The irony was this: Although I was indeed alive, I certainly was not doing fine. I had a long way to go before I was anything close to doing fine, but it gave me hope. And perhaps even more importantly, it gave me the faith I desperately needed. That faith was inspired by an experience that I related to a friend yesterday as one that I cannot put into words. I know what it was, I can feel it like it was yesterday, but I cannot describe it.
But it changed my life, and even for those who may scoff, that much at least is real.