When I think of my spirituality today, I can’t help but think of my younger days.
Sitting in that church with my family wondering when will this be over.
Having that small rubber ball that I would roll from one end of the pew to bouncing back to me was at the time the only thing that kept my mind busy.
That in itself should’ve been bad enough I suppose.
However, I was sitting in the first pew and my mother was the one at the podium preaching.
Looking down every so often with that horror look in her eyes that was telling me.
“Just wait ‘til you get home.”
Which, as a kid seemed like an eternity.
“She’ll forget most likely.” I would think to myself.
But she never did.
“Someday.’’ She would say. “You’ll look for God.”
However at that age the only thing I was looking for was getting out of this monkey suit that was my Sunday cloths I would have to wear.
Off would come those dress pants that I couldn’t run in or kneel down in the tall grass to play with my small metal matchbox cars.
Off with that shirt that I couldn’t drink anything that would stain my front with.
Off with that tie – even though it was a clip on, I still had to have my top button fastened to keep it on.
What a pain.
To finally having my shorts back on.
My favorite T-shirt, which was at the time, The Six Million Dollar Man running.
Along with my old sneakers.
No socks of course.
As time moves on and life turns, those moments I would laugh when my mother would bring them up.
There was even a time in my earlier teens that I looked forward to Sunday’s.
Dressing up in my finest clothes, even thinking that maybe I’ll go further in my religious education like my mom did.
‘Til I fell in love.
Not that that should of stopped me, it was love.
I had always thought I’d make the right choice.
But as time moves on that small rubber ball, that ambition to further my religious views, even that small little boy with a clip on tie was forgotten.
Even that feeling of dressing up on Sundays.
Heck, even my girl is gone – moving on with her life, getting married and having kids of her own.
To this date, that is still one of my biggest amendments I have had to make.
The time I took from her.
In the end my mom was right, I did look for God.
Asking for the impossible, expected to be heard, ‘til I was praying, please not again – not again.
I had moved so far away from God that when I finally wanted him I could not see.
How blind I was.
As time went by, having those thoughts go in and out of my head like.
“Is there even a God?”
“What if we’re wrong?”
“What if they’re right?”
Going from wanting to believe to not even thinking about it.
As long as you had what I needed or wanted.
Years ago my mother had given me a gold cross.
I wore it for a short time then placed it around my rear mirror of my vehicle.
Over time I hung another cross.
A small Ankhs.
The Pagan star.
The Hindu symbol.
Even a crows feather.
At the time one of my friends mother’s evening gave me a Jewish star.
I’m not Jewish.
I had so many religious symbols hanging that when I put the brakes on I had to hold them back in fear that they would hit and crack my windshield.
I was always looking at that time in my life.
I used to bring a coworker in to work with me Monday through Friday.
She would give me gas money that sadly went into my tank instead of the cars.
One day she asked me, “If I was into religion?”
I can tell you that I was horrified!
“What do you mean?” I asked her.
“Why would you even say that?” I added.
She just looked at me and pointed to all the cluster of items hanging from my rear mirror.
“Oh these.” I said, looking back at her.
“Well, one of these are bound to work.” I said.
That’s how I look at it.
As time moved on and life turns I have found a God of my understanding with the help of others.
Not the one I was introduced to as a child or that young man looking to furthering his religious education.
Not even the ones I looked for hanging down from my rear mirror.
When I do talk about my spirituality today to people I will often say,
“That my spirituality is not the same as yesterday.
Or a week ago, a year, or ten years.
It’s always changing and growing.
As long as I seek it out.”
There has been many times that I can look at in my life that God has had my back. Looking out for me in spite of myself.
I’ve heard, “That God watches over drunken fools.”
Well, I fit both of those categories throughout the years of my using.
Heck, even some of my sober years when making some really bad decisions.
God was there.
But when I stopped running.
Stopped looking for things that was not part of God’s plan for me.
What ever they may be.
All the searching in my life for something.
Some power outside of myself.
When I finally gave over my will, God was always there.
All I had to do was Turn Around…
Once Upon a Line
Once upon a line it seemed that no matter how much I had – I still wanted more.
Once upon a line I heard that I didn’t need anyone to feel all alone.
There was a time where I had to wait in lines.
Lines at the bank or the gas station – even when young there were lines in the school cafeteria just for some food.
All in the name of fun I would wait in line – sitting around the bar table looking at people that I didn’t know waiting for the barkeep to bring me my next drink.
Looking at my reflection in the mirror staring back at me.
Walking on that fine thin line of insanity and sane.
Having small glimpses of reality come through my head on what to do next.
There always was a line somewhere.
The line to stand in when I was going to that new club.
Starting out looking so cool to being so washed up by the end of the night.
Flushing the toilet with the tips of my boots, just to be sitting there backwards making lines till 2:00 am.
Like most fairy tales this one starts off just the same with one exception: it’s real.
As we start our story we come upon a young man waiting in the line at the bank.
As he starts getting closer to the teller thinking just give me my money, he starts feeling the overpowering thoughts of when he gets out of this line, what it’s going to take to get to his dealer’s house to get his fix.
The power of using is starting to run through his veins like he was already high.
As the bank teller counts out his money he thinks just for a moment that rent is due, never stopping and thinking that he still owes his dealer for that last fix he got the other day. Not once thinking that there’s still no heat in the apartment or any food.
Why would he.
Once the thought of using enters his mind he’s off and running.
Never stopping to think what’s wrong with this.
At that time – nothing is wrong.
After he sees his dealer and pays him off, just to be fronted some more he heads home. Sneaking by his landlord’s open door to that stairway with that one creaking step.
Opening his door ever so slowly to not hear it squeak.
Over to lighting a candle for some ambience and maybe some heat.
Looking around his small room for the things that he needs.
Never stopping to see the destruction he is making as his head comes closer to that first line.
Sitting back and wondering how he’s going to get more.
Blowing out his candle he sees his breath in the air. No heat will do that.
Opening his door ever so slowly to peek down the hall. Listening in vain for any sound coming up from downstairs.
Over that one creaking step and heading outside.
When did it become day time he thinks to himself – what day is it anyway.
Down the street to try to score some more.
Asking passerbys if they have any loose change or a few bucks to spare, to seeing an old man sitting down in the shade by the side of a building holding a sign that reads will work for food.
Looking down to say, “I’ll never be him – man, that’s got to stink – there’s got to be help for that guy somewhere.
He’s just got to stand in the right line.
Get some help and move on with his life.”
As the old man looks up too tired to try – saying to our young passerby –
“I was just like you once, never stopping to see the destruction I made to myself or to others who cared.
I had a purpose in life too – ‘til I started down this road so many years ago.
I was just like you, always looking for more and look where it got me, all washed up and poor.”
“Yah, you.” “He says as our man just keeps walking down the road.”
As the old man lowers and shakes his head.
I could hear him say.
“I had a life too.”
“I was just like you – Once Upon a Line.”…
I’ve heard the suggestions like change your playground, stay away from those old haunts. Stay out of your own head. To hearing that popping sound as I take my head out of my – well, you know where.
Sitting down with a friend one day having coffee. Talking about how we felt and joking about the times we put those, “For rent signs,” in our minds.
Thinking that this great machine I like to call my brain will fix the problem sometimes. And we laughed – knowing that we share the same way of thinking.
We started telling each other how it is when we go to that place in our heads what I like to call room six.
Room six – just the name sounds amusing when I say it out loud.
But it’s not. Just one room. My room, your own room.
We all have a place that we go to when things are going on in our life.
Room six is a large room with one window and peeling ceiling with wallpaper walls.
Well, at least what’s left of the wallpaper, that is.
Looks like the preceding leaseholder had some fun tearing some of the wallpaper off in three of the corners.
But why just three? Now there’s a query.
Least they had their hands free.
Or maybe not.
It could’ve been done with their teeth I reason to myself. I’ve even heard that one could use their own toes to pick away at themselves to the point of bleeding. But let’s not go there at the moment.
Needless to say I don’t have my hands free along with the taste of wallpaper. That doesn’t appeal to me either.
I haven’t been in room six long enough to think about it and there’s that word right in itself – think.
That’s why I’m in room six now, anyway, is it not?
My large room has but one chair, tanned in color and by the window.
Listen to me, my over sized room, ha!
The chair is old and worn with age. Looks like somebody sat in it relatively often looking out the window. Which is not much to look at other than the wall of the building next to this one.
My room has no bed in it either. They must not consider that I will require any sleep.
The floor is white – well, most of it anyway.
Nice and white like after snow first falls.
Worn down in places like in front of the door or where the wallpaper in three of the corners is peeled away. But not in that one corner, I thought. That one blemish stands out the most.
The ceiling has but one light bulb, hanging down low from it. Old by the looks of it. Yellow with age. It has no string or switch on the wall to turn it on or off – it’s on now – but most of the light is coming from the window.
I decide then to walk over to the window and look out – that’s when it happens.
Let me try to put my thoughts in words that even I can understand.
I could smell things – not bad smells. But remembering smells.
Like candy apples at the state fair or cotton candy. The smell of rain on a spring night’s air, and I had to sit down.
Is this why the chair is here by the window? I thought to myself.
I was overwhelmed with intoxicating odors to the point where you could taste them. Sitting down I started to breathe easier – one breath at a time, slowly I told myself as I closed my eyes, slowly breathing through my nose.
Then they came at me again – these inhibitions forcing their way in.
The smell of an open field of wildflowers, the pages of a new book when you first open it. The smell of grass when cut. These odors reached out to me.
My mind was in a thousand different places all at once.
I don’t know how long I sat there, five minutes, ten – it could have been five hours just sitting there breathing slowly in and out.
At some time I opened my eyes to look out the window to see shadows dancing across the side of the building next to me. How long was I staring? Who knows – but the more I stared at those shadows they began to take shape.
It sounds mad I know sitting there having these overwhelming odors and now – now seeing shapes in the shadows, like children running or throwing a ball back and forth. Someone old sitting on a park bench feeding some birds, a couple holding hands while they walked away, and I cried.
One tear from my eye – down the side of my cheek.
I let it go and breathed in deeply.
The taste of my tear when it touched my mouth brought even more smells.
How long have I been sitting? I thought to myself.
My legs hurt and my feet were starting to tingle. I wanted to get up then. Start walking around – let the blood flow through my legs.
But it’s so nice – where did that come from, was that me?
This spot – it’s familiar.
Looking around my room, the three corners where the wallpapers were torn. The one wall where the door was at.
I looked at the far corner now. Dark and uninviting. But familiar just the same.
The window was too far away to cast any light on that side of the room and my one light bulb hanging down didn’t seem to shed enough light either.
I closed my eyes again, then stood up.
Feeling lightheaded. The images of the shadows still playing across my mind. Slowly – so slowly I open my eyes again, to see my door was open.
How long? How long has it been open?
There I was standing next to the chair feeling the rush of blood going back into my legs. How long?
I took a step towards the door – this is a dream – it’s not really open. I take another step and stop, my hands are free.
Free! For how long?
I touch my face running my hand through my hair. My tear dried long before.
I stopped looking back out my window to see the shadows playing across the building and they’re gone. I breathe in quickly – the smells they’re gone too!
How long? How long have I been standing there?
I face the door again. Open, it’s open.
I walk to the door slowly taking each breath, each sight in and I stop again to look down. The paint is worn not on the outside of the door – but inside where I’m standing.
Have I been here before?
Think – and there’s that word again.
The door is open. My hands are free. Just one step and I’ll be through that door.
I look back around now, I have been here before. I close my eyes again, I want to leave or do I want to stay?
With one step I walk through the door.
Eyes open most likely to come back again once more. My friend and I finishing up our coffee only to laugh at this place of mine I’ve come to call Room Six…