I can see it. It walks casually up the sidewalk on the opposite side of the road, arms swinging to a cadence that breeds its own type of music. There is a carefree attitude emanating from very core of its being. Head is held high, shoulder up, eyes staring straight ahead, and a smirk, a smirk as if they know something that no one else knows. Confidently approaching an intersection and without hesitation walks the crosswalk to the other side without a second glance for on coming traffic. They seems invincible, nothing can harm them, and life only seems to get better as they turn the corner and head out of sight.
I have known this feeling. I have lived it with every ounce of my being. The world was mine. It was like I could dictate an outcome just by thinking positively and heading straight toward any challenges. I knew I would come out okay. There were no dire situations, no panic necessary, and no undue drama. Athletes often talk about the game slowing down for them when they become comfortable, they see things in slow motion, which allows them to make the right calls, throw a pass to the perfect spot, or hit a tiny ball with a stick that has been fired at them as if from a gun. Everything in life was in slow motion to me. I moved faster, I took steps multiple at a time, I thought faster (or so it seemed), and I knew of obstacles before they appeared so I could have a plan in place.
I asked her the question because I knew the answer before she said it; I just needed to hear her confirm what I was thinking already in my head. It was at this very moment that all of the slow motion that I had experienced in life caught up and then passed me by. The world moved now at a pace that I was franticly trying to not fall further behind. Instead of that confident stroll I was now sprinting everywhere I went trying to catch up. My mind no longer saw steps ahead but was not trying to remember what that basic item I was supposed to accomplish actually was. I heard things as if they were delayed, I watched their mouths move but the words came out like a dubbed foreign film. I scribbled notes in meetings desperately but when I went to read them just minutes after they made no sense. I was scrambling, at home, at work, shit, everywhere. I cannot think of an aspect of my life where I had felt comfortable or like I had any semblance of control anymore. It felt like my life had been put in fast forward but someone forgot to tell me and I was still living frame by frame.
As I spent the next year or so retreating from the world that was now spinning around me, I purposefully slowed myself down. Life still went on around me but I needed to not be apart of it for a while. Sure there would be the occasional sighting of me taking my boys out for ice cream or to a movie, maybe on occasion I would meet someone for a drink but for the most part I became a recluse. I would spend days watching movies that made me think, reading books that explored emotions that I tried to ignore, and listening to music that I had not listened to for a really long time. Some days I spent sitting in complete silence, chain-smoking, drinking too much wine and thinking (the wine dictated when I would actually stop thinking as I am sure most of you can relate). I relived old memories some good and some bad but to think about them in an alternative mental state from the time I was experiencing them brought out a slew of thoughts and feelings that I hadn’t experienced about something that I had already experienced. I would say it was like meditating but I am sure spiritual advisors would from upon using wine to get to a Zen like place, to that I respond with “don’t knock it unless you’ve tried it.” There were also night where my mind would need a bit of a break, more so than the wine provided as the wine wouldn’t allow me to sleep and would provide such vivid dreams that I would often wake up and not be able to sleep again.
When I was a teenager I never drank. I hated beer, liked very few hard alcohols, and wasn’t into wine at that time. My choice was pot to be honest. I decided that I would try to find some to give my brain the rest I thought I remembered it giving me as a teenager. Body builders will tell you that rest is key when building strength (doubtful that they used my methods) so I decided that as I built my strength back up in life I would need to rest a bit, on occasion. The “on occasion” was key for me, I wanted to feel these emotions, I wanted to feel the pain and the constantly evolving ways in which I looked upon myself, the situations that I was facing, and my new life in general. I didn’t want to use it to medicate (that point could be argued over and over) but as a respite for a night. So I found some. It was long after everything had cleared and she was gone but it was in my possession. Now, what to do with it (yes I know smoke it) but it had been a while, a long while. The first time I sat back and gave myself a “night off” I quickly realized that it didn’t do what I thought I remembered it doing when I was young. I wasn’t void of thought (as I had hoped) but the thoughts were singular. There was a narrow path that I was able to take to explore my life and each time it was a different path. There wasn’t a whirlwind of thoughts spinning in my head, there was just one and I could spend time working on that one. I would write about it in a notebook each night that I did this so I could review that thought and learn from myself.
What this did for me was block out a violent tornado of emotion that moved faster than I could think. I was able to slow things down again, to learn, to maneuver, and to plan. What before seemed like a thousand people knocking at my door all at once was now reduced to the one with whom I could let in and speak to solely and let them out when the time came. Each conversation seemed to end with a resolution that seemed unattainable at the time; it allowed feelings to be worked through then moved to the side or, on some occasions, to be moved into the past. On the days I felt like the world was speeding up again, when the anxiety would build that I was about to be flung off the edge (not a flat earth believer), I know was able to reduce its speed so that at the very least we were walking with the timing. More and more I discovered that I was able to deal with the “smaller” items fluently while chipping away at the larger (chisel still in hand). As the smaller items fell, my world began to reduce speed to a run, then to a jog, and eventually to a speed walk.
Today, when I walk the streets (not as a prostitute), when I walk through work (feeling like a prostitute), and when I just sit on my own to reflect it seems my world and I are walking side by side again. Neither of us are so arrogant to think that we need not look both ways before crossing the road, neither of us necessarily swing our arms to the beat of our own music, but we are side by side. I am not sure what will happen when I approach a corner, most times I will actually peak first just to make sure, and some streets I still avoid but we are together again. There are still many things that are not ideal; there are still really hard moments, days, and weeks. Having my world’s pace slowed though allows me to work on these thoughts and emotions without falling behind in the rest of my life (or whatever this is). I don’t use pot in the ways I did previously, it doesn’t seem necessary to me any longer. Maybe this is progress, of that I am not sure, but it is something and at this point I will take that over nothing.
***Disclaimer—I am not saying pot is a cure or anything of the such. I am wording my own experience and how I felt it allowed me to focus. Please do not take this as an advertisement for the use of drugs, if you want to do them it is your choice J.