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.