Zen Spot #36 -- Mindfulness, meditation, autopilot and the internal gyroscope February 20, 2018 00:05
Autopilot and gyroscopes
It happens, from time to time, that a memory returns from an alcohol-fueled blackout. No telling what will jar the memory loose. Sometimes, it’s like walking into a wall. Other times, the memory fades in slowly over the course of a minute. After fifteen years of sobriety, it still happens once in a while.
At its worst, while still drinking, I would end up passed-out on a park bench in a nice business suit. It happened in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Miami, Washington D.C. and other cities. My physical size was the only thing that kept me safe. Predators moved on to easier targets. Police ignored me.
It is a time I never want to revisit.
Washington Square, PHL
Walking corner to corner, at about 9 pm on a recent Friday, my memory opened up. This rarely happens in Philadelphia. My autopilot and internal gyroscope could always help me find my way home without having to sleep on a bench.
My mind faded into having crawled across the rectangular flagstone until I could pull myself onto wood slats. I think it was 1998. I had probably been drinking at Dirty Franks, a bar about twelve blocks away. My habit of walkabouts, while living in oblivion, was in full effect. No recollection of the stroll has returned.
As the flashback fully returned, I stood looking down at the bench for an entire minute. Shaking my head, I closed my eyes and swayed back and forth on unsteady feet. Shame accompanies these experiences no matter how much time has passed.
I chose to sit. Sobriety, and clarity, provided the option to choose. I further chose to take a breath, with my hands on my knees, in the dark, to make peace with the memory. The quiet was full of distant sirens, plates being cleared by waiters in a nearby restaurant and the sound of rubber tires turning on asphalt.
I imagined a spaceship having departed some 5000 days before, returning unannounced just minutes before. A guy about my size got out, sat down next to me and disappeared.
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