488. Ziggy’s Diary: 16

Tried to send a fax to Carynne today to say I’m okay, but it didn’t go through. I was trying from one of these communications offices in a train station where they’ll fax you a page for a fee. But it would not go. It was very nice of them to give me my money back, I suppose.

I got the idea to fax her just in case Jenn had a freakout and called the embassy or The Hollywood Reporter or who knows what. In case news reached the states that I had gone missing from my already being missing, haha.

The thing is, I was also hoping Carynne would call to check on my mother. I’d send the message to Digger but that motherfucker won’t actually do it. As I was tearing up the page I’d written out to throw it away it occurred to me that I don’t know what I was expecting Carynne to do either. Call up the home and say is she okay? And if they say no, then what? It’s not like I was giving her a way to get back to me. I guess I just wanted someone to be checking on her even if it isn’t me. I don’t know. Actions that are spurred by emotions don’t have to make sense because emotions don’t have to make sense.

Train stations are easy places to meet people. There are so many beggars here. But also so many monks and mystics. And backpackers and tourists. I’ve been at a different hostel every night for the past three nights. I’ve had to talk a little. But mostly I’ve been listening. There’s a lot to know.

At the second hostel the authorities came and took a boy away. I say boy but he was over eighteen, though not by much. He was from Ireland, and his parents had been looking for him. He had disappeared into India and they had feared him dead, kidnapped, something. Kidnappers usually ask for a ransom though, or so the clerk at the hostel told me later. He also told me that the doctors at the hospital, where his second job was, said that Westerners who came to India often went insane. Western doctors called it “India Syndrome,” he said. I didn’t ask him what Indian doctors called it, but maybe I should have. “Westerner Syndrome” maybe.

He was not, by the way, making hints at me about myself. The universe might have been, though.

See, apparently it’s a thing where folks not from here come in search of spiritual enlightenment and instead go crazy. They’re just not ready. You also hear stories about people who try LSD for the first time and lose their minds. That didn’t happen to me when I was a teenager and India isn’t about to flip me out now, either. It’s about being open to new experiences and letting your mind open. Some people will never be able to handle that. Whether that’s something about them, or something about Western culture that damaged them beyond repair, who knows.

What I do know is that meditation is still not working for me. I’ve tried a couple of different temples, a couple of different ashrams, that I’ve been finding through the hostels. They all give the same basic speech as Veddy did. Follow your breath. Suck in the air, let it out, and think about nothing but that. You’d think after months of steady trying I’d be getting further than I am.

All following my breath does is clear my mind enough to think about everything I haven’t been thinking about. It’s something different every time. I go back to the list I made at the center, the twelve things I regret doing most while I was on drugs. The thing is, what about the list of twelve things I DON’T regret doing despite the fact I was on drugs? Yes, it would have been even better to do them NOT on drugs. But why has no therapist ever asked for that list?

I know why: because Western therapists disapprove of spiritual pursuits. They want to heal your spirit with science. With medicine. They disapprove of drugs because, well, we’re in the middle of a War on Drugs, remember? So if you take peyote or mushrooms or drop acid or even if you just does yourself with painkillers to skew your view of the world into something less fraught with misery, well, that’s frowned on. Tsk tsk tsk. You’re supposed to talk your way through it. Talk talk talk.

While I agree that I am off drugs and should never do them again, I don’t agree that seeking altered states for the sake of enlightenment is bad. And I also realize that there were things I did while on drugs that I would not have had the courage or clarity to do otherwise at the time. And I do not regret those things at all. Not at all.

Maybe I’ll make that list now. Here goes:

1. Kissed Daron
2. Sang my heart out
3. Overcame pain
4. Overcame fear
5. Brought ecstasy to tens of thousands of people
6. Fulfilled my professional obligations (all but one)

Why are these lists twelve, anyway? Let’s start with six. Could I have done them all with no drugs and just meditation? Meditation and yoga, maybe? I think maybe I could have if I could only get this meditation thing working. It sounds like it should work. I feel like I have an inkling of it. Like I have peeked through the open door into the room, but I haven’t actually set foot in the room yet. And in the room there’s a chest that once you get to the center of the room you can open. And in the chest there’s more to see. And so on. But I’m still standing just outside the door.

But at least I know the door, and the room, exist.



  • Connie says:

    Hugs to Ziggy.

  • LenaLena says:

    Dude, that is exactly what meditation is supposed to do: take out the mental trash. The empty mind isn’t supposed to come until after you’ve processed all that crap.

  • amanda says:

    Way back at the beginning (years!now) I somehow read Carrynne’s name as “Carryanne” and by the time I realized there was no second A it was far too late. Now I often have that song by the Hollies running through my head as I read, unless you provide me with something I know well enough to replace it…

    • ctan says:

      I don’t even know where I got Carynne’s name from. Just popped into my head. I’m pretty sure her mother picked it to be pretentious. (i.e. she wanted to name her after Karen Carpenter but Karen is so bland and boring… something like that… and so when people pronounce it wrong she could pretentiously correct them, “that’s cah-RINN, Bob…”)

      Carynne’s a variant of Corinne, supposedly, and means “maiden.” (I just looked it up out of curiosity.)

    • Ver says:

      …wait, you mean it’s NOT Caryanne? So you’re not the only one, I’ve been reading it with the extra “a” all this time, apparently.

      • amanda says:

        Glad to know I’m not alone! Although it’s weird I read it wrong at first, as I have a cousin named Corrynne – actually, probably about the same age as Carrynne (i.e. in her 40s now…right…?) She always went by Cory though. Which made things kind of weird when I married a Cory (a guy). But I digress. She’ll still always be Carryanne to me 🙂 (“oh what’s your game now, can anybody play?”)

      • ctan says:

        LOL! I guess I should have put a pronunciation guide in. 🙂

        Then again I’ve got friends who still mispronounce Hermione Granger’s name when reading Harry Potter (despite having seen the movies). Whatever works for you guys. When it’s in your head the story can be whatever you like.

  • Seana says:

    I can completely relate to Ziggy. I have tried to meditate, I can relax and enjoy the experience, but my mind will just not. Shut. The hell. Up. Sometimes a walking meditation is easier than a sitting, because the movement gives my (noisy) brain something to focus on, I suppose. Maybe the point is to try to find the center of one’s self and some centers are just noisier places than others.

    • ctan says:

      Yeah. I find it easier through the martial arts than through sitting, though these days my knees and other parts of me that are out of warranty prefer sitting…!

    • Joe says:

      I’ve never gotten the point of meditation (and needless to say, I’ve never achieved the empty mind-state-thing). I find it much more useful to do what Ziggy’s been doing, get rid of the cruft so I can think about the important crap I need to deal with. And I’ve often found that walking is a better method to achieve that.

      • ctan says:

        When you achieve that altered state, it’s really cool, and you realize that’s the point of meditation. 🙂 But sitting meditation isn’t the only way.

  • Seana says:

    Lol Perhaps t’ai chi would be kinder on the knees and post-warrantee parts.

    • ctan says:

      Perhaps. But after 25+ years in tae kwon do, I’m not about to change arts. I need to make some time to do more strengthening to counteract the effects of aging, though!

  • Bill Heath says:

    I actually practiced psychiatry for eight months in the late 1980s before leaving medicine for good. We had few drugs available, we didn’t understand them, and if we had we’d have realized how little they did for most people.

    My colleagues and I used talk therapy. Most of my colleagues also used meditation, and referred those who resisted to me. I used diet, acupuncture and hypnosis in place of meditation, coupled with talk therapy. In about half of the cases of meditation-resistant patients it worked.

    I did this because I cannot meditate. Not will not, cannot. I’m just self-centered enough to realize that an inability to meditate is merely atypical, not abrnormal. Were I practicing today I’d be thrown out as a quack. I resisted using most drugs as well as meditation. Today’s psychiatrists use little else.

    My current therapist (she’s great!) wants me to meditate. I still know enough about her profession to explain in terms she accepts that introspection does not depend on meditation, which is good because I can’t.

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