Just now have diagnosed an odd feeling I've been in the last several weeks, or months. It's like riding in the passenger seat instead of driving the vehicle that is the body. I was about to say things happen to me, I don't initiate action. But that's not it. I go back over and over in my mind to the mosh pit likeness. I'm floating, kept upright by momentum, bouncing from one experience to another, each bump shoving me into a new direction every time, reeling inside, relaxed, in the body, though very lightly so, as in a dream. It's even like being a character in a novel I'm reading. I don't know if it could be called detached, but it's like experiences flow by like air, fluid. It's been a goal for many years to let go of attachment, allow all others their individual autonomy, let go of judgments, receive the spirit of others. I can't tell if it's laziness, weariness, boredom, or if it's something a little higher sounding, like finally finding self living in the spirit of detachment. It feels like that has something to do with it, and feels, at the same time, like simple sorriness. I'm recalling as my friend Jr Maxwell was in his last days, fading, I was a nervous wreck wanting him comfortable for the occasion of the spirit leaving the body. I felt like a coin flipping in the air, one side joy, the other side sorrow. The coin spun so fast the joy and sorrow blurred into one feeling. This best defines what I feel now, constant joy and sorrow blurred as one feeling. I think of a photograph on the wall of Meher Baba. His eyes are full of sorrow while his face smiles. My spirit is vibrant and happy while the body is weary and worn out, would rather sleep than participate in just about anything.
I can't tell if I'm getting more egoic or less. Most often, I think more. I stopped trying to do spiritual stuff, like meditate, read scriptures, go to retreats, read books about Tibetan Buddhism or the Hindu, Ramakrishna. It's all there on the shelves, it's beautiful reading, but I'm not interested any more. I've found my spiritual path in everyday life. I tend not to differentiate good and bad anymore. I am comfortable being seen go into the liquor store. I've known so many men who go to another county for the liquor store, don't want anybody they know to see them, it is funny. I think it's called living a double life. The only reason I'm not drinking right now is I'm out. Will get some more soon. Of the bonded liquor my preference is Wild Turkey Rye 101. Yummy. Don't even want to mess it up with ice. I may stop at the liquor store next time in town. My barber in the early years had his shop across the street from the liquor store. He saw everybody that went in and out. He said to me, I saw Tom Pruitt go in the liquor store the other day, like he was telling on Tom, telling me something I didn't know about this old boy I looked up to, bring him down a notch or two, caught him in a sin. I said, Yeah, he drinks Wild Turkey. It's small town mind, making drama of other people's sins. Sure, I have a spiritual life. And I drink liquor when I feel like it. I'd rather have an inch of good liquor in an orange juice glass than a beer or wine any day of the year. Somebody thinks it's a sin. That's ok. Old Jr Maxwell taught me how to drink. One sips really good liquor. That's all I'll drink anymore. I'm happy to pay ten dollars more for something I like. If the liquor store kept Haitian rum, I'd keep a bottle in the house at all times. I'm not justifying when I say I drink very little. I like the taste of good liquor better at this time of the life than about any other taste.
I like to keep a dram nearby sometimes for a sip. The inch in the orange juice glass will last an hour. I used to stop at Jr's house on the way home from work and sit with him for two hours. He was old and lonesome and his spirit was depressed. There wasn't anything I could do to help him with his troubles, but I could visit him regularly so he'd have at least one friend drop by in the course of a day. We sat at the kitchen table with our drams of the best liquor ever made on earth, two drinks a night over two hours. Over five years sitting at the table every evening, he told me his life. We talked and sipped. After his spirit left the body, I asked for the orange juice glass he drank from. It was all I wanted for memory. He had been drinking daily since age 14. Age 86 the doctor told him he was in excellent condition. His blood pressure was always right. What he died of the doctor called a "slow fade." He drove a "bull noser" several years, took two six packs of beer when he went out in the morning. The working class people around him thought him a drunk. Yet by the standard of the middle class or the ruling class, he drank very little. I'd heard for years that Jr was a drunk. He wasn't anywhere near a drunk. As a bluegrass musician in the old days and the old ways, he liked to get drunk on weekends. Playing bluegrass banjo at a dance, he kept a quart jar nearby or in his car for intermission. He said, the more you drink, the better you play, to a point. At that point you stop drinking. Beyond that point everything falls apart, you're getting sloppy, eventually stupid and have to be carried to the car. He kept himself at that point when he reached it and played the fire out of his banjo. His favorite fiddler to make music with most often drank beyond that point.
Every Friday and Saturday night I'd visit Jr, he would continue drinking after I left and get himself shit-faced. He told me, "I like to work like hell all week and get drunk on the weekend." It was the rhythm of his life. I don't like to get drunk anymore, don't like it at all. He didn't care if he fell on the floor and went to sleep. It's his home. He couldn't fall off the floor. I wasn't there to control him or change him, only to give him company. In that time we had become friends. Near the end, in his last weeks, lying in the bed, me giving him a little sponge on a stick dipped in water to keep his mouth wet, we were talking. I sat in his wheelchair beside the bed when we talked in the mornings. He said, "I wish I could pay you for what you've done for me." I said, "You paid in advance. Five years of sharing with me the best liquor made on earth is worth something. To me, it's worth a whole lot." I had never thought of it like that. It was said without thinking. I heard myself say it and was glad. I could not have said better thinking about it. I did not want to be paid. One of his friends offered to pay me. I said, "If you pay me, then I'm working for you. I'm here for Jr, not for money, and I want to keep it that way." He comes to mind, remembering his last months of mind going away and and gone. It went away in one week. It was like a bathtub draining. I accepted it that his conscious mind was shutting down. He retained his subconscious. I knew him well enough that we could communicate. I see him in the middle of the night, all the lights on, wheeling in the wheelchair all over the house looking for something in his dream mind. I didn't stop him. I sat in my chair with a book and stayed aware of him, not interfering. What he was doing was important to him. What I'm feeling now takes me back to this time with Jr when his mind was fading and went out. I've come to a place where there is nothing I want. The mind doesn't run non-stop like it used to do. Now, I can stop it easily. I've fallen into a don't worry / be happy place. It's the joy I feel all the time, possibly a happy spirit, mixed with the sorrow that goes with physical existence. I feel content as a donkey in a meadow nearly all the time.
photos by tj worthington