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Twisting all the bad things into good

Oct 27, 2011

The Nitty Gritty, Part 11: The Impenetratable Darkness

" But there is a pitch of unhappiness so great that the goods of nature may be entirely forgotten, and all sentiment of their existence vanish from the mental field. For this extremity of pessimism to be reached, something more is needed than observation of life and reflection upon death. The individual must in his own person become the prey of a pathological melancholy. As the healthy-minded enthusiast succeeds in ignoring evil's very existence, so the subject of melancholy is forced in spite of himself to ignore that of all good whatever: for him it may no longer have the least reality".
William James

           To say that Sunday had been a long and emotionally draining day would be like admitting that Casey Anthony could have been a better mom. Although I was not finger painting the elevator walls with feces, I was still looney tunes enough to not realize that I was not really stuck in an elevator but was ensnared in a trap set by my own mind. In what had become my own little world, it felt like I was sitting on that elevator floor studying non-existent fine art for hours, but in a distant place where I once lived called "reality", it was probably only a few minutes. I thought that the fire department had finally arrived and were on the other side of the elevator door letting us know that we would be out soon. Once they pried the doors open, it was clear that we were stuck between floors. The only escape route was a gap between the roof of the elevator and the floor of the level above. It was barely big enough to squeeze my body through. With the help of the firemen pulling and me boosting them, the skinny hippie couple barely squeezed through. Even though I had not eaten in a week, I was still well over 200 pounds. This would be a tight squeeze. The firemen said if I did not hurry, the gap would close and I would be stuck there all night. I still thought I was sane, so I was imagining that I would lose my mind stuck there any longer with nothing but my morbid thoughts. I reached to the outstretched hands of the firemen and they began pulling me up and through the gap until I got stuck at my waist. An overwhelming panic struck me as soon as I had the terrifying vision of the unimaginable pain and gruesome death that would befall me if the elevator started back up and suddenly began to descend. At that point, possibly due to the fear, I blacked out, having no memory of the rest of this day.

           Outside of my own delusions, this situation was about as dangerous as getting stuck on an escalator in a Super Target. It was questionable if I had even been in the elevator at all when I thought this BackDraft like scene that was not even cutting room floor worthy was playing itself out.  All I know of what really happened is what I would be told later by my roommate. He said he was waiting for the elevator and when the doors opened with no assistance from the fire department, I was sitting in the elevator staring at the floor.

           As crazy as this weekend had been, I never once thought anything was out of the ordinary. Obviously the death of my dad was not an everyday occurrence, but the details seemed reasonable enough that I never thought,"Hey, maybe this isn't really happening. Maybe I'm just experiencing one of  those psychotic episodes just like what happened to not even one person I have ever met". The emotions brought on by my father's death earlier in the day just fueled the fire of my deterioration. My mind had turned on itself and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I had lost control over that which separates man from beast. Perhaps the scariest part was that whatever was happening could not be blamed on drug use. There were no drugs in my system for the first time in nearly 18 years. It would be my own mind that was going to expose  me to fears and places that even my worst acid trip never wanted any part of revealing. I was getting closer to making a clean break from any notions of the spatial or temporal dimensions  that are paramount not only to our understanding of the world, but also to our survival in it. The whole concept of time was becoming non-existent. I could no longer differentiate between several hours and a few minutes. I was not able to fathom the implausibilities of the imagined events of the last 3 days. The extreme grief I experienced that day  would only make things worse. Even though the grief stemmed from hallucinations, the pain was still real. I didn't know the difference. My mind had created it's own reality and anyone who may have been witness to this was not making any attempt to reach me. I could not help myself. My misery made me all too willing to relinquish control of my consciousness. I was no longer responsible for my actions.

           Even though I was devastated by my father's death that afternoon, after some time on the elevator I was no longer concerned with questions of life or death or anything beyond the present moment I found myself in, real or imagined. I had no contemplations on the past or future. If I had a soul, I lost it along with my mind, as if separating the 2 was even possible. I was so far from reality that I couldn't make sense of things like hours or miles, let alone something that exists beyond time and space. Something else had taken over control of my mind and it wanted nothing to do with anything as meaningless as souls or redemption, Heaven or Hell. I do not know what I believe in regards to ideas of spirituality or faith. I am only confident that if humans do have an eternal soul or spirit, it is nothing more than the mind continuing on after the body no longer can. The only thing that I can admit any faith in is the fact that we as humans are incapable of being able to comprehend that which transcends time and space, the very things that give some semblance of structure to how we relate to the universe and everything in it. If you believe in souls or Heaven or Hell, is it possible the soul could exist anywhere besides the same place that controls the origins of thoughts that become decisions and result in acts? There is nothing beyond these thoughts and actions to be factored into any kind of cosmic equation that distinguishes a good soul from an evil one. It would be this distinction that would determine where that soul would spend eternity.

           A lost soul was the term my mother reserved for only the most hopeless and desperate cases of those she saw as having little or no chance of finding any kind of peace in their life. The type of person who used words like futility and redemption interchangeably. I had become a person that even someone like my mother could give up on after realizing they had already given up on themselves. I was exactly the thing that made her saddest, even when it was in regards to another mother's son. I was one of those lost souls. During the depths of my depression and addiction, I could admit to myself that if I had a soul, I was losing a part of it everyday, but at least that was evidence that I still had a soul to lose. Whether or not you believe in souls or some form of an afterlife is inconsequential. Even if someone's mind denies any existence of Heaven or Hell, there is no denying that it is that same mind that can turn the here and now into the equivalent of either.

"All the gods, all the heavens,
  all the hells, are within you"
  Joseph Campbell


  1. Can I be a happy lost soul afterall?

  2. Good question.
    My mom would say "no".
    I imagine if I ever get paid to write,I would then say "yes".