Another perfect summer morning came too soon. I only had a few hours of riding to complete my goal, but I wanted to get it done before it got hot. In rising light I drove down the river to Keno, A drive I used to do almost every day for a while of years. Years grinding away at a large, profound project while simultaneously slowly killing myself with alcohol and cigarettes. The project was successful. My body had enough of life, and my ego was despondent.
I spent much of that time wishing to die.
Every morning I would wake up.
Why am I still alive?
Why don’t I get hangovers?
When does the cancer catch me and kill me?
How do I still have a family? I have failed to realize my potential just like I failed at everything else in my life…
In those years I thought about suicide a lot.
Almost all the time.
Suicide is a messy thing.
When executed precisely it is a nicely controlled exit. You can plan a perfect death, but how do you do it without hurting the people who love you? How do you escape without everyone wondering what could have been done to stop it? Those left behind might never understand the pain you were trying to extinguish. That pain is as real as anything else in life.
When I see young people commit suicide it does make me sad. They have not had a real chance to see how horrible the world is with any perspective. In my experience, the world has far too many selfish egos roaming around and destroying beauty without concern for their children.
It is kind of hard to see it any other way. Look around.
What is dominant?
Violence, greed and a population growing to extinction through resource exhaustion.
It is no wonder that young people are more depressed than ever. It isn’t video games or cell phones that cause this crisis of mood. It is how their parents act. It is the poison of American consumerism that has now infected the whole of humanity.
Without anything real to believe in they look for material comparison to build their egos. Egos are easily bruised and react with fear and anger.
Ego is dangerous. It is the root of what is called evil.
From there it isn’t much of a leap to just want it over with. It is easier than pushing the rope.
It actually is hopeless now. We ate ourselves into extinction.
Still, kids should see something of value in what life is left.
Evidently their parents don’t love them enough to make choices of sacrifice.
We had the chance, but chose our egos over our offspring.
It seemed like a lot of work to be humble I guess.
To live simple.
The highest rate of suicide in America is enjoyed by men in my age group. There are various reasons this is true, but probably the greatest reason is a feeling of failure when men know only ego.
By 45-55 we are supposed to have “made it”, and are quickly discarded as useful by the structure of corporate America. Ego is crushed.
No one taught you how to find self.
Many religions do not want you to know your self. The churches command one to know only pious creed. It has nothing to do with consciousness. In fact it is antithetical to compassion. It is deeply conditional love. Pure judgement.
In America self is confused for Lamborghinis. In America self is unobtainable. An unreachable goal to be criticized for. Worthless comparison as identity.
In America self has been replaced with ego.
I did not try to kill myself in my transformation to self. I slowly destroyed my body and hence my identity. Over time I could no longer build. My body was not built for my work. I was killing my body with my job.
I was not fighting death when I transformed. I did not die forever at the time my Ego and my corpse found physical limitation. My ego did not die completely, but I did realize that my self was me and my ego was essentially a lie I had been living.
My corpse lived too.
My transformation came when I succumbed to death in illness–a mysterious flu that came on as quickly as it ended in the most profound four days of my life. The two year anniversary is in a couple of weeks.
Happy Birthday new Andy.
It was the best thing that has happened to me.
I would say “best thing besides meeting my wife or the birth of my daughter” and that would be true if it were true. It is true. I am pretty sure all of these things are true and came from the same source. They all hold equal value in my mind. They are all events of consciousness.
I still do not understand my inter-dimensional relationship with the cosmos, and a superstitious element of my psyche has huge reservations in trying to explain what happened to me in those four days using language–or if I should talk or write about the experience at all.
I don’t pretend to know exactly what happened in that moment of submission.
I can only report what I experienced in a clumsy way using language and art. People will just have to experience it for themselves, and the good news is that we all get the opportunity at some point. Not everyone is given the option I was, but some are, and hopefully there are some egos that will listen to a message brought back from the boundary.
In Keno I parked at the Post Office and rode west on highway 66 into the Cascades. I was not as strong on this last leg of my ride. Some of the general anxiety of my life in Klamath was clouding my self presence again. I was starting my second year of unemployed-ness. I had to see my in-laws in a few days and try to hold my head up in the face of judgement. Mostly my own insecure self-judgement.
House-husbands are not respected in any culture. Some days I have a hard time feeling worthy of the food and shelter I enjoy.
Some people (few)have judged me in the rebuilding of me. Anyone who has tried to change their line of work in the middle of a well established career knows this challenge. I am trying to make sense of something bigger in addition to finding a new working identity.
I have worked incredibly hard since my second birth to stay the self I was born. So far so good, and for the first time since I was 12, I am relatively happy.
For the first time in my life I felt joy. June 14, 2018–four months after transformation.
The judgement is OK, I am certainly far from a life without fault, and I will use all of my energy to correct my mistakes as I live out the rest of the gift I have been given. When I think about my friends and family, I truly believe that these people have treated me better than I have deserved and I have never known why.
I wonder what they might have said about me if I had died in that moment, February 22, 2018. What a mess to clean up. It has taken me nearly two years to purge the disorganization of the previous thirty years, and I know what hole everything goes in. Mostly the garbage-hole. No one else could have made any sense of it.
It is amazing how hard we work to make trash. Look how hard we work to wreck the earth in the pursuit of ego.
In a few miles I came upon a wrecked boat and trailer on the shoulder of the road. A yellow plastic band of tape wrapped around it was flipping in the breeze. The tape read “Crime Scene”.
Certainly a scene full of questions. The boat was near a popular reservoir on the Klamath River not far from the California border. My guess is that alcohol was involved. If not, then I am curious how the wreck earned such an interesting accessory. I never bothered to find out. One local sheriff later told me that stretch of road has the highest rate of fatality in Klamath County. Alcohol is the leading cause of this problem.
After crossing the lake the road climbs and climbs. Working its way up the first of several passes between central and western Oregon on the states most southern highway. It was on this road 9 months prior that I began my first century ride. A ride I was uncertain to finish, but managed to do–building the confidence for the prospect of this ride I was about to finish.
Before the top of the first pass my route deviated north through subalpine forest, dropping again to the high desert via county roads back to Keno. By now my mind was almost out of the ride. In spite of my best efforts to remain present, I was already distracted by thought–a problem my whole life. Something I worked to eliminate for forty years. Something I was determined to kill.
Why won’t it just shut down?
The last 11 miles was on a shoulder-less stretch of road I have driven many times. You don’t think of how dangerous this is until you are on the edge of it on a bicycle. I rode the solid white line with the focus of a tightrope walker.
No thoughts but that focus for an hour. It was good for me, and I didn’t get hit by a car, although some came closer than I care for with no excuse for doing so but hillbilly intimidation or reckless inattention.
At my car the sun was hot. At home, collected spring water made for a good cup of tea. In my mind I was not done.
I completed my goal.
What next? Ride to Mexico? Ride to Vermont? I will start with Oregon first. This year my endurance challenge is the 364 mile Oregon Outback trail. Training begins in March. Anyone interested? It starts in Klamath Falls–or it ends here. That remains to be planned.
In the months since I finished the ride, the week of Sprayquest introspection has manifested in the expansion of my goals for what remains of my life.
Not in the sense of having a stack of bucket-list functions to complete in thoughtless ceremonial ego-driven acts.
On the contrary, my consciousness has developed beyond what I would have allowed before I found myself making the most important decision of my life.
The decision to succumb to death gave me an option in a question statement asked by consciousness.
I don’t care whether I live or die, this suffering has to end…
You can come over here or you can stay in this realm, either way will be OK.
I decided to stay, and in doing so I have traveled much further than I could have imagined before I got sick. Not physically or intellectually.
Two years ago I was a vacuous mess of fear and self loathing.
I am still a mess, but I have no fear of fate at all. No fear of death. I am certain physical death is not the end of self. It is an illusion. Our lives here are just part something we do not understand well. We likely can never understand it fully in mortality. We may not in transformation, but I know the love I felt in the moment of my gift was unlike any I have ever felt before. The closest was the first consciousness of my daughter (hers) and the moment I met my wife.
Still, I have unending curiosity for the peace that is death. Not one day–not one hour maybe, goes by without some stray thoughts going to that place I could only see distantly when grace saved me from ego.
Unconditional love saved me from myself.