It was brought to my attention that my last post makes me sound like a lush.
Comments like that always trigger introspection. Am I crawling into a bottle because I can’t face life? Well no, not really. On reflection I can say that I get drunk every now and then because it’s fun, and as a responsible drinker it’s one of the cheaper and less dangerous thrills in life.
I don’t like myself when I’m sober.
– Alan Watts, the scholar and popularizer of Zen and Taoism.
No, it’s not that bad. Not nearly. I like myself well enough, sober or otherwise. Still…
I’ve long said that I aspire to live life more drunkenly. There is an honesty to innebriation, a straightforwardness and earnest sincerity that is lacking in sober life. Drunk people wear their hearts on their sleeves. They say the things they never had the courage to say otherwise. They weep, they say “I think you’re beautiful”, they hug and say “I love you man!” and mean it. They let slip the secret religions which we all keep carefully hidden in our heart of hearts.
I mean it figuratively, of course. I don’t actually aspire to being schnockered all the time. I just want to live as if I am.
I’ve been reading The Soul’s Code, by Hillman. He would have it that we all have a destiny and calling, a daimon that has our number and won’t stop calling. It may be put off, sublimated or repressed, but ultimately it won’t be denied. It would be senseless for me to try to refute his theory; I know the truth of it all too intimately. “Hound of heaven on your trail… keen sense of direction and smell…” (Bill Mallonee) If I drank to escape anything, it would be that persistant prank caller of the soul. Except for the obvious problem that to be drunk is to be tuned more fully into his frequency…
Did you ever get woken up from a sound sleep by persistant telephone ring, and stagger around utterly unable to discover the source of the alarm and silence it? That’s what it’s like… to say that I have a “call” is to make light of it. It would be better to say that the barbed hook has gone clear through my chest and out the other side, and the angler is tugging on the reel, hard. Except that it isn’t that simple, because I have no clue in what direction I am being pulled.
It’s hard to explain these things, because there really are no words for them. That’s why it’s much simpler, and doubtless more objectively accurate, to say simply that I am (just slightly) insane. “Grandiosity” is the word Hillman uses, an epithet in the mouths of the psychotherepeutic establishment, and a complement in his contrarian view. The impudent, narcisistic notion that I matter, that there is something very, very important for me to do here, that there is redemption to be found, not from sin, but from meaninglessness. God pulled me aside in a crowded nightclub, said “we need to talk” – and then vanished without leaving a number. I don’t need any convincing that there is an overarching purpose to my life; I feel it in the unbearable aching of my bones. But what, where, when, how? Like Mel Gibson’s character in Conspiracy Theory, with his mind shattered by the brainwashing, “it’s on the tip of my brain” but I just can’t… blurt…. it… out.
And like him, I know that I sound crazy, and I know that it’s true, and that I can’t help it. I of the analytical mind, who worshipped Commander Spock and Sherlock Holmes in my youth; I who most people think of as rational, left brain sort – almost too much so, at times – I live with this in my head and KNOW how absurd it all is. People know me as an engineer, a consumate geek; but from one point of view I only putter around with computers to wile away the time until I find what I am really here for. In that sense my whole life is like a mere facade, a cover, a frivolous exercise.
I am blessed to have a few people around me who say they believe in me. You don’t know how much that means to me, dear ones. I don’t know why you do, but it keeps me going sometimes.
I have seriously considered paring down my friends list lately, for the first time. Not because I dislike anyone on it. Far from it. It’s my own fault, really. I’m a geek, and a rationalist; I therefore find common cause with other brainy types. And I love you all, I really do. But lately it’s been getting to me… I surround myself with reason and science and cynicism and gears and wheels, and sometimes it’s just too much. It feels like knives going into my guts sometimes. NOT because I want to run away. NOT because I want to live in a dream world. Oh no… it only gets to me because it is no more than an echo of the voice that is in my head, a voice more coldly cynical than any of you. The voice that has required me to put my face to the flame, to pry my eyes wide open, to see the world for what it really is with no blinkers, to stay firmly grounded in unforgiving reality. The voice that lives to flay idealism. And sometimes I just want to cry out I KNOW!, I KNOW!, I see it all, I understand! The world is a barren place, cold and cruel and mechanical, I KNOW the human heart is a den of snakes, I SEE, I really do, but I can’t help it, I believe anyway, I believe because I have no choice, and oh god it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts.
Who’s a den of snakes?! I wouldnt buy that in a million years; it isn’t though there is pain. You know? Really? 🙂
I believe you that you have a greater purpose in life. I do too. I agree with your author there, that everyone does. I also believe that one of the challenges of life, one of the things we are all here to learn, is that in the midst of the chaos and struggle and responsibility and noise of daily life we need to find a way to each clear our own space to hear that call and figure out what it’s saying. It’s not an easy thing to do…a lot of people don’t want to hear, or are afraid of what it will say, or don’t feel worthy, or never even think much about whether there’s any more to life. So the fact that you have acknowledged that much and allowed it room in your life is significant. I don’t think you’re crazy at all. I think you’re more sane than most because of it.
Incidentally, I don’t know if you’ve read much Sufi teaching, but so much of their imagery and poetry and parables have to do with the drunkenness of divine ecstasy. If you haven’t, you might find it comforting, especially since Sufism is really more of a path than a religious sect in a lot of ways.
no clue who you are, but wanted to say it is delightful to see someone other than me say positive things about the Sufi.
I’m a huge fan of Hafiz. If you have any other recommendations on Sufi resources, I’d be interested.
perhaps the resounding voice isn’t the one telling you the message, but is the part of yourself resisting the message, which must scream louder and louder to block it out when you wander to close to finding your truths.
screw those who don’t believe in the healing powers of the drink!
besides that, what the heck is bad about being a lush?
I hope i get to stay on the friends list, but i would understand if not…
My sentiments exactly! 🙂
I second this!!!
What is wrong with a bit of the alcomahol?????
I, as one of the other likely hyper-rational cyncial bastards on your list who always talks about how barren the world is.. never mean that one should give up hope or stop believing…
personally, I push the knowledge of how barren the world is only so that when we address the world-and go out in it to make our way, to be creative, to construct and make meaning where there was none before–that we do this as best prepared as we can…
In any case.. I, too, value the inebriated state of mind quite often.. it allows me to escape my walls and to express my emotions in ways that are almost impossible for me to do while completely sober… part of this has to do with my personality, I know… and it has gotten better as I got older… but I totally understand what you mean…
The world is barren cruel, cold and mechanical, and people are at times. What if all people were loved and accepted and understood? Most would be good, wouldn’t you agree? Most people are not evil underneath their pain and hurt. And of course people are always going to be hurt and misunderstood and full of pain and the desire to lash out. But that is the surface. That’s not what’s realy underneath. It’s hard to find the spiritual in life, it’s hard to find the good that is in most people, but that’s because it’s what’s deepest, and isn’t what’s deepest, true? The realy sould and spirit and core of things and people. Just because the deeper meaning and the good meaning of things is hidden doesn’t mean it isn’t there. And it’s worth more because it takes more to find it.
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