The following is a chapter from Hang-Dog with a Hard-On, an unpublished “shamanic” memoir written in 2011. It is meant to loosely accompany this week’s podcast, “Between a Rock & a Hard Place.”
“As above, so below. The Sun is a self inside every atom. This is the lonely road to Sovereignty.” (Book of the Adversary)
As the present narrator and past protagonist of this account, it has been disturbing to discover my sympathy for myself dwindling as the narrative unfolds. Much I what I have to report is so unsavory to me now that I have doubts about sharing it at all, not out of embarrassment, but simply because it seems that most readers will lose patience with a protagonist so obviously flawed and seemingly self-destructive. I think if I were reading this as an outsider, I might even be looking forward to seeing me get my comeuppance! Perhaps most disturbing of all is that, having always prided myself on self-awareness, it’s exactly this quality that I find to be lacking, despite, or perhaps even because of, the endless self-analysis and the “profound” esoteric understanding that runs through these accounts. In the end, however, my diagnoses seem to consist more of rationalization than sound reasoning. It is like a higher, more intellectually sophisticated version of (the oldest excuse of all) “The devil made me do it!”
Whatever forces I was evoking and invoking during this period, with all the authority of a child playing with matches, the patterns being ignited and magnified by those occult energies where endemic to my own psyche and very much in me, and this is a fact that remains mostly unacknowledged. Once again, there appeared to be scant awareness—or even questions asked—as to where all of that hostility towards women and cats came from, and hence there was no real possibility of healing the wound driving me into my seemingly endless aberrational behavior. Instead, there was inflation and elation followed by damnation and self-recrimination, a vicious circle of pride and shame of archetypal dimensions. I was Christ! No wait, I was Satan! But wait, Satan was Christ’s shadow, so I was Christ after all! Oh but that was hubris, oh no, I’m Satan again! And so on, ad nauseum. Anything to avoid the truth of my mortality and my humanness, and the fact that, behind all the smoke and mirrors, the arcana and invocations, was a misbehaving child, acting up to get the attention of the gods and then cowering in terror the moment he got their attention.
I headed south with a vaguely formed notion of reaching Panama and hitching a ride to Europe on a sail-boat. I’d been told—I forget where—that Europeans docked there on their way home, and that they frequently invited helpers—cooks, cleaners, etc.—on the long sail. It was a vague and ephemeral plan but it was all I had. I traveled by bus through Central America, making stops along the way. Although I had sworn off psychedelics, I was continuing to experience the after effects, most noticeably via dreams. On my way through Nicaragua, I had the following dream:
I was in a house eating ice cream when the realization struck me that the sugar intake was affecting my ability to think clearly, or more precisely, to fix the assemblage point in its new position. I was feeling intensely unreal, and I realized it was due to my lack of focus, my incapacity to allow my ego to adapt or expand to accommodate the new perceptions. Each time I had learned to fix the assemblage point in a new position, I was then compelled to move it still further, into deeper or higher states of consciousness, and undergo ego-dissolution once again, until I had learned to fix the assemblage point in its new position, and so on. The new positions were approaching ever closer to the state of godhood, wherein the ego, rather than being destroyed, expanded to incorporate the new consciousness, that of a god-being.
In the dream, I reached the next level of the house by some stairs, while feeling stuck in a hideous state of unreality. I needed to cross an abyss, a dilapidated attic, the floor of which had all but crumbled, leaving only a pair of wooden beams to walk on. I was already beginning to feel the presence of the god-being, pushing me to make the crossing. As soon as I began to “walk” the beam, I realized I had no feet or legs and that I was gliding over the abyss, with no need for the beam at all. I realized then that I was flying, that I had no body at all, that I was simply perception. This released me from the horror of ego-consciousness and unreality, and I began to soar into the night sky. I still possessed a sense of form, a left extremity and a right extremity, which I felt as wings. Instead of looking down at the murky earth below, I cast my perception upward and began to soar towards the stars. I was headed to a specific star, but I didn’t know which one or how to get there. I only knew that my joy was finally released by the awareness that the Earth was not my home, and that I was finally headed back to where I came from. The stars were orange and glowing and I was flying without direction. I passed through meteor storms, glowing ember meteorites that did not burn me but blocked off my view of the stars. I began to realize that I was lost. It was at that point that I felt the god-being’s hands upon me. The Being was God. There was no room for doubts in me. The sensation was indescribable. Its touch was not gentle, by any means, but nor was it rough. It was an intense pressure, not only physical but also mental-emotional. I felt it in my whole being. I felt God behind me, taking me in His Hands, and turning me around to face a new direction. At first I resisted, or rather I somehow resented it. Of course, resistance was futile, and worse. I was being touched by God!
God turned me around despite my resistance and pointed me in the right direction, not to my Star but back to Earth. And so I returned, with God on my tail. God brought me all the way in. I arrived at another house, a different one, and God was there with me. He (it did seem to be a male) had assumed a human form for me. He was huge, tall and muscular, a bit like a cosmic comic book character such as The Specter of DC comics, dressed in a sort of satiny, skintight robe with a hood that covered his face. Perhaps at my request he pulled aside the veil and revealed a white polystyrene bust in place of a face. There were logs in the fireplace and, with a wave of my hand, I caused them to ignite. Either I or God turned on the stereo then, and some rap song began playing. I was looking around the room at the empty chairs wondering who to manifest there with us on this amazing occasion. I then asked God to manifest Himself as an actual person, so that I could talk to him. He obliged and to my surprise and slight discomfort (disappointment?), he pulled back his hood to reveal a black man. I said as much, “You’re a black man?” He looked at me curiously, as if I had said something stupid. I wondered if the term was incorrect (Negro?), or rather inappropriate. I fumbled another question: “Is it because it’s more primal?” God told me then that this form helped Him feel “more earthed.” His eyes were rather dim, and somewhat sad.
When I woke, I realized the song playing on the stereo was the song that goes, “Keeping the black man down, on the run, under the shadow of the gun.”
[An online search for these lyrics came up empty. Did I dream the song too?]
The day after my black god dream, I arrived in Panama City (which is mostly populated by blacks, or rather mixed race black-hispanic, but the black gene was the dominant one). I discovered that I had come at the wrong time of year to catch a sail-boat to Europe because the winds were not currently blowing that way. So my options for returning to the old world were no better than they had been in Guatemala (where I had tried to persuade the British embassy to pay for my fare back to England, without success). For some reason, I was set upon returning on Europe. I had settled on Barcelona, a city I knew well enough and where I spoke the language, but it was really no more than a fallback position. Since I had to move, a direction was required to move in. Barcelona was sufficiently appealing to provide me with the necessary impetus to cut loose from my old life. Once I was on the road, however—as I had discovered time and time again—it really didn’t matter where I was headed. Forward motion was enough.
Panama City turned out to be the last place in the world that I wanted to be however. It was a festering hell-hole and it triggered some latent feelings of racism within me (particularly regarding interbreeding). The people there struck me as stupid and ugly and the overall feeling in the city was a negative one. I felt at home among Mayan or “Native” people and Latinos; but I felt the opposite of at home among the Panamanians. I made a trip to the Santo Tomas hospital to have my foot X-rayed and found out there were no breaks, just severe swelling. I was told it was not likely to heal until I stopped walking on it for an adequate period of time. Meanwhile, I was stuck in Panama. I couldn’t afford to fly out; I couldn’t entertain the idea of going back up North, to Mexico for example, having spent all this time and money coming down here. But going south to Brazil no longer held any allure to me either. It seemed like there was absolutely no reason for me to be there.
Then, as if by divine intervention, I received an email from Mike LaBurt and his sister Tara. I had met Tara in Guatemala, and through her met Mike, in Hollywood, on my last visit there. Mike and Tara had decided to make a movie in Columbia and for some reason they wanted me in the lead role. The fact I was not an actor didn’t discourage them, so I decided not to let it discourage me either: a reason to be somewhere was welcome, and so I agreed. They told me to stay where I was and they’d get back to me once they were sure of their schedule. That was easier said than done, and not knowing what else to do, I went to the beach. After moving around over the course of a week or more, I ended up at Playa La Gorgona, where I engaged in some intense meditation and wrote the bulk of what would eventually (ten years later) become Homo Serpiens. While I was there, I found out from Christian that Mitch had finally returned to Guatemala, mere days after I had left!
After a couple of weeks at Gorgon Beach, following Mike and Tara’s instructions, I traveled to Bogota, Columbia, where we were supposed to meet up. It was my first time in South America, and I arrived in the capital on August 6th, Bogota’s birthday, or el dia de la fundacion. As I arrived, there was a fantastic promenade down the main street, as if to welcome me: people dressed as devils and angels and satyrs and the like (I was pretty sure I saw Pan).
That night, I had probably the most intense dreaming experience of my life.
I didn’t know how or why, all I knew was that I was asleep and it happened. I experienced myself expanding at warp speed through space and time to encompass the entire history and contents of the physical universe, the entirety of spacetime. As I accumulated momentum, I was conscious of a limit about to be reached, a barrier. This barrier signified “evil,” or perhaps entropy, and it appeared to signal the total annihilation of everything, starting and ending with myself (since I was the universe). As I neared the horrendous moment, I surrendered to the inevitable. I was aware of exploding past what I now realized was an imaginary barrier, and began expanding at an even greater rate. From this point on, no limit or “check”—neither evil nor entropy—existed. I was completely unimpeded, and so far as I knew the expansion—which would contain and absorb all phenomena and all events, all time and space, everything—would continue forever. I had gone supernova. I had become the Big Bang.
Then somehow the motion ceased and reversed itself, and in microseconds I was putting my “self” back together again and returning to my familiar identity. It was then that I awoke. Not screaming, exactly, more like wailing. There was joy, but also horror. I stayed awake for some time, unable to comprehend or believe what had happened. It seemed to have lasted no more than a second, a single moment in which I “remembered” everything, past and future and an infinity of parallel worlds included. I was somewhere beyond madness this time, beyond anything. I had had no idea God would be that . . . big. And as I kept returning to the experience, running it over in my mind to be sure not to forget it, I became convinced (without any actual linear memories to support this) that I had re-experienced the fall of Lucifer, that I had seen (and been amongst) the hordes of Angelic beings, the armies of Lam, as they rose up against God and turned the whole Universe against itself, and as a result wound up trapped in a false reality of their own making. But I had also experienced the shattering and final transcendence of this underworld-labyrinth–illusion: the return to hyper dimensional awareness, to Paradise.
“And only through madness can you conceive of this, oh Man. The Higher Being that you are; and so it is that I bring madness, and terror, and death and destruction to your world.” (Book of the Adversary)
I dreamed I was in a movie house watching an alternate version of The Matrix. On the screen, Morpheus was taking Neo through a simulated world with blue sky and white clouds. He was explaining to him that something was happening in the matrix, something that related to an external interference or intervention. Energy surges (which I visualized as expanding spheres of intensity) were emerging within the matrix and causing the program to falter and shimmy. When this happened, Morpheus said, “People like us will receive large boosts of energy. If we receive enough—” he raised an arm upward, suggesting that they would be able to leave the matrix through self-volition alone. The suggestion was also that, in turn, this would “bring down the matrix program.”
A sorcerer I was in touch with at the time (Joseph Kerrick) was on my right, and I nudged him playfully and said, “That’s what we want, Joseph!” Joseph was at least 50% Mitch (they were both the same person and yet separate, without any apparent discrepancy being involved). He was rolling a joint. I gazed at the clouds on the screen and added, “The sky will crack!” Mitch/Joseph handed me a dirty roach, which I had no desire for and refused. He said chidingly, “I don’t hear the sky cracking, Jake.”
Unlike Panama, I felt at home in Columbia, back among my Latin brothers. I stayed with Mike’s cousin for a few days, waiting for them to arrive, but in the end they changed their mind and decided to fly me to New York instead. I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t be allowed into New York. But since I’d managed to enter the US a few months before, slipping over the Canadian border to see Mitch, I figured it could go either way and I was willing to take my chances if they were.
Having discovered the computer program Paint and taken up pixel-drawing, I composed an image before leaving Colombia (I thought, on my way to New York). I was so pleased with my little art work, an image spontaneously inspired as much by wishful fantasy as anything, that I considered printing it and making copies to send to family and friends. It proved too elaborate a process, however, so I abandoned this plan. In retrospect, was the painting a form of lucid dream, similar to the kind of magical thinking that ancient hunters practiced, painting the cave walls with images of their slaying buffalo, as a means to image the events to come, and so help beckon the desired reality?
I arrived in New York airport and handed over my passport to a young Hispanic officer (I’d picked his line because he looked like he’d be sympathetic). He ran a check on the computer and up came my record. I made a futile attempt to persuade him to look the other way, and told him he’d get extra time in heaven if he let me through. He got antsy with me and signaled to a black woman who came and took my passport. I was lead into the back—by now I knew the routine backwards—and questioned as to why I had been refused entry before. I lied and said I wasn’t sure but I thought it had something to do with taxes and my owning a property in the US. It took a few minutes before they found out the truth, and I was chastised for lying. The first time I’d been refused entry, it was for telling the truth (about my pot-smoking past). I couldn’t win.
Like a character in a movie, I demanded my phone call. I was told that calls were not allowed. I realized, and said out loud, “Ah, visa waiver!” I remembered the ominous declaration on the visa waiver form, right before the space for the signature: “I waver all rights as a human being,” or words to that effect. An officer eventually informed me that a call to the UK embassy was allowed, so I agreed, thinking I could get the embassy to call Mike and Tara to let them know what had happened. The officer dialed the number for an outside line (91), and though I missed it the first time, fortunately for me he misdialed and had to dial again, so that time I noted it. There was no one at the Embassy, so he left a message. After that he left me alone in the interrogation room.
There was a big glass window on the other side of the waiting hall, and from where I was sitting I could see the officers at the “reception” reflected in the glass. If anyone headed my way, I would catch them first in the glass. Feeling more and more like I was in a movie, I dialed 91, my heart pounding, and punched in Mike and Tara’s number. Unfortunately the glass reflection trick worked both ways, and the second time I called Mike (I’d had to cut off the first conversation abruptly) I got caught. Even though I hung up before the officer came into the room, he had seen me in the glass. Fortunately, he assumed I had only been trying to call out (since I wouldn’t know the code), but even so he tried to intimidate me with a show of righteous indignation. It was a pitiful attempt, as it happened. “If you want our help,” he said, “you should not obey!” He realized his mistake and quickly corrected himself.
When I got through to Mike and Tara, all I’d said was “They got me” (like in a movie). They had already figured out what had happened; they even had information for me: I had already been booked on a return flight to Colombia! Armed with this inside knowledge, I went to the reception and asked politely if I was being refused entry. Yes, they said. Where am I being sent, I asked? Back to Colombia. At that point, apparently, I insisted on being sent back to England, drawing on my extensive knowledge of immigration procedures to do so. I had made sure that Tara bought me an ongoing ticket to the UK, so as to increase my chances of getting into the US, and I knew that airlines have an arrangement with Immigration and that my e-ticket to the UK (for the end of September) could be moved forward under such circumstances. I didn’t raise my voice or make any kind of scene, but I succeeded in making a strong enough impression to get results, without putting anyone’s back up, at least not right away. I noticed, not for the first time, how government officials tend to take a few minutes to react when you push them too far. (Perhaps it was a sorcery technique I had learned?) It was only afterwards that a young officer came over to me and said, “First of all, you don’t insist on anything!” But by that time, he was already working to get me on my flight.
A problem arose when they couldn’t find any confirmation of the onward (online) ticket to the UK. Fortunately, I’d had the foresight to copy the data off the Internet that morning at the airport, and I kept telling them to check my diskette. The young officer in charge of my case (whose name I found out later was Michael) refused to “put strange floppies” in his computer. (The double entendre was lost on him, as were all my attempts at humor.). Instead, he had the bright idea for me to boot up my laptop and we were able find the ticket that way.
They went through my army bag, which was full of books, with the sacred salvia and pipe in my great coat pocket at the bottom of the bag. All they found was some Chinese cold remedy pills, and the young officer, Michael, wanted to get the customs team in with their drug kit. There was another officer, called Steve, who was a living stereotype of a corrupt government official, fat, bald, and abrasive. He said, “Naaah, it’s too much like the boy who cried wolf.” I presumed that he meant that a guy like me, after all the drug history bullshit that started this farce, wouldn’t be carrying drugs. I was a lamb in wolf’s clothing.
“Smart move,” I said.
Steve came at me defensively then, and demanded I repeat what I’d said.
I said, “It’s a smart move not wasting the customs guys’ time with those pills.”
“You’re a real smart-ass, you know that?” he said.
I declined to accept the complement. “Just commending you on a correct strategy, that’s all.” I said.
He was still angry at me and told me I needed a shower. Not satisfied with the insult, he pressed on into locker room humor about my “rank odor.” It was true that the red sports jacket I was wearing was seriously in need of a wash, but it was a bit pitiful to see his attempt to wound me in order to restore his pride. I looked sadly into his eyes and said, in my best British accent, “You do me a disservice, sir.” He wilted at that, and whined, “It’s the truth.”
Officer Michael found a booklet on the Koran in my bag.
“Do you follow Islam?” he wanted to know. I knew at once what he was thinking.
“No. Is that a crime now?”
“Just asking,” he said. The young officer never got testy.
“How about yourself?” I asked.
No, he didn’t either. He then found a drawing by my beloved eight-year old Leo friend, my niece’s cousin, as well as a letter from her. He wanted to know what it was.
“What’s it look like?” I said.
“Like a child’s drawing.”
“That’s what it is.”
“Do you have a child?”
“Then who drew this?”
Later it occurred to me that the only possible reason for his interrogation was the deep-set paranoia in the US regarding pedophilia. At the same time, I doubted very much that even he knew the reason for pressing his questions so hard. Probably, it simply didn’t compute with his preconceptions that a guy “like me” could have a young child for a friend. Their minds were so fallen, so base and twisted, I thought, and yet without the slightest awareness of their sickness, that they might be suffering from the worst of malady of all.
The young officer brought me some food, baked potato with broccoli and a chicken sandwich with two small fruit juices. I started to like him after that, though I still considered him damned with the rest. I knew that if they hadn’t got me on a UK flight, I would have stood my ground and made them bind and gag me and drag me onto a plane to Colombia if necessary. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that. I was assuming I would be sleeping in jail, but it turned out I was to sleep there, in my “office,” on a couple of plastic seats. I spent several hours in there, typing on my laptop, recounting everything that was happening: a field report from the heart of the labyrinth. I had a strong case of déjà vu throughout. I was still caught in the loop, but I had moved up a circle or two and was that much nearer the escape hatch. I felt bad about using Tara—or “the Wangus” using Tara—to get to the UK, and I was hoping she didn’t feel abused. Beyond that, and beyond the discomfort of a night in jail, it was all working out.
I wept for a while over the whole situation, and like an avalanche I wound up weeping for “the fallen.” Fortunately, there was no one around to see it, though I did start tearing up while pleading with the supervisor, David, to “do what you can do, Dave” to get me into the US. He was a true weakling, an incredibly naive, gentle, and kind man, and I got the feeling he wanted with all his heart to help me (especially after my spontaneous display of pathos). He assured me he would try, but it turned out he was just trying to get away clean. He never came back (except briefly to give me permission to plug in my laptop, which I figured helped alleviate his guilt); I could tell that he felt so bad he couldn’t even face me. Possibly he tried to do something, but more likely he slunk off to bury his head in the sand somewhere. How someone as sensitive as he was wound up with the job he had, I could only imagine. But I realized that it was a big mistake to think that people like this could help me, once I was caught inside the snare. The very thing that made them sympathetic also made them useless, powerless to act. The only ones who could help were the counter agents, like Mr. Johnson (in a similar series of events in 1999). He came through for me, and yet Johnson was almost inhumanly rigid, cold and emotionless, seemingly the epitome of the soulless automaton in service to the Machine: the “Agent.” Yet he came through on my side and pulled off a small miracle.
If there were agents within the matrix who had hidden “god” programs, they weren’t the nice, sensitive, “helpful” ones. And they were very hard to find. The officer who first took my passport and turned me in was a nice young guy, too, and I had appealed to his “decent nature.” But not only did he get upset and accuse me of trying to bribe him, he tattled on me to boot. Apparently (based on an interview I had with Michael later), it was considered a crime to give the Gestapo attacks of conscience or appeal to their better nature. Of course, it would have to be. The whole fandango struck me at the time as a little test (and gift?) for everyone, with me and my rank odor at the center, dressed in red and stinking to high heaven. It was the way the cookie of civilization crumbled.
There follows a transcript of my interview with Immigration Officer Michael ——.
Q Do you speak English well enough to understand me?
Q Are you willing to answer my questions at this time?
Q Raise your right hand (I did so) Do you swear or affirm that all statements you are about to make are true and complete.
I paused, thinking that there was no way they could ever be “complete,” just as I’d said to him earlier, “I can promise to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, but the whole truth, never.” That morning before flying I had written in my notebook: “The truth shall make us free, but only if we take responsibility for it.” I had decided on the plane to New York that honesty would be my “policy,” but “within reason,” i.e., not always telling the whole truth, but avoiding lying where possible. However, the first question I was asked, having said “I do,” and after giving my name, was:
Q Have you ever used any other names?
I hesitated before deciding to lie, for simplicity’s sake.
Q What is your date of birth
7 April, 1967
Q Where were you born?
Q Of what country are you a citizen?
Q Where do your parents reside?
My mother lives in England, my father in Barbados
Q Have your parents ever resided in the US?
I think my mother did, before she was married.
Q Were either of your parents ever US citizens?
Q Was your mother a permanent resident in the US?
I really don’t know.
Q Do you have any claim to US citizenship?
Q Are you a permanent resident of the US?
Q Are you married?
Q Do you have children?
Q What documents did you present (bla bla)
Q How much money do you have in your possession today?
$33 (actually I had 34, the same as the years under my belt)
Q Are you employed?
Q What is your occupation?
Q Are you coming to the US to work?
Q How many times have you been in the US?
About, including as a child, maybe ten times
Q What is the longest period you ever stayed in the US?
Q Do you recall when that was?
From April 87 to Dec 87
Q Do you recall for how long the inspector admitted you at that time?
Q Normally, visitors with tourist visas are admitted for a period of 6 months. Did you ever stay longer than the period to which you were admitted?
As far as I know I did not
Q Did you ever work in the US on your prior visits?
Q Have you previously been refused admission to the US?
Nov 1991 and April 1999
Q What was the reason for the 1991 refusal?
The reason was admitting to having smoked cannabis.
Q What was the reason in April 1999?
As far as I know it was the same reason. I was refused entry for having been refused entry before. That’s what I was told.
Q Were you refused a US visa in Dec 2000?
Q What was the reason?
No reason was given.
Q Have you ever used marijuana?
Yes, but I didn’t inhale.
Q When is the last time you’ve used marijuana?
I don’t remember but it was a looong time ago.
Q Earlier you told me you’d not used marijuana for 80 days. Was that not true?
It was just a guess. It was a figure of speech. 80 days is two cycles. 40 days in the desert. I passed my temptation, twice over. (I was improvising fiercely there!)
Q Have you ever used any other drugs.
Alcohol, tobacco, caffeine
Q Are you aware that by violating the terms of the VWPP, you become ineligible to use the program and must first obtain a visa before your next entry?
I am now.
Q Have you ever been arrested?
Q When you arrived this afternoon, did you ask the Immigration Inspector to admit you despite your prior refusal?
(pause) Yes I did. I asked for a favor.
Q Did you try and convince him to admit you by telling him no one would know if he admitted you?
(pause) I don’t remember exactly what I said. But I know that he thought I was trying to bribe him, because I told him he’d get five minutes extra time in heaven for doing this good deed.
Q Do you have any physical or mental disorders? (apropos timing!)
Q Prior to your arrival today, were you aware you were not admissible to the US without a visa?
No, not strictly: since I had come to the US last year, I thought it might be OK.
Q You are referring to Dec 31 2000, when you were admitted at Blaine, Washington?
Q At that time, did you complete a Visa Waiver form (bla bla)
Q Do you have any questions or is there anything else you would like to add?
I apologize for wasting the time of the Immigration Officers on this the second occasion. As a published author in the US, who has never once worked illegally or broken any laws, I feel that I have been unfairly penalized for a minor infraction of my past. If the President can be forgiven, why not I?
Q You have been determined to be inadmissible under section 12, bla bla
Q Do you understand?
Q Prior to the initiation of this statement, were you able to call your country’s consulate?
I didn’t get through.
Q Do you wish to call again at this time?
And that was that. I spent a sweaty, strange, fitful night’s sleep under the ruthless lights in “the hole,” locked in my own private room with a toilet and no light switch. I woke around six after weird dreams. There was nothing to do, so I meditated, and the sonic effects of the room created the best set of ohms I ever did. The situation also created an opportunity to resolve a specific problem I’d been having with my meditation. During the momentary state of inner silence which meditation allowed for, whatever word, thought, or image arose in my mind took on vast and ominous proportions. For the previous few months, I had been dogged and haunted by a single word: “contempt.” I had done everything I could think of to oust the negative mantra but nothing seemed to work. Tell a man to think of anything but hippopotamuses and what is the first thing he thinks of? That morning, in the immigration holding cell, the word no longer seemed inappropriate, and so I welcomed it into my meditation.
I realized that, during the whole “ordeal” (which had really been an experience no different from any other, except that I had neither planned nor volunteered for it), I hadn’t once felt any real anger towards the immigration officers blocking my will. I hadn’t even seen it in those terms at all. I felt the mildest contempt and pity for the system to which they were (voluntarily) enslaved, but overall the experience flowed over me like water off a duck’s back. While I was in a state of silence, there in the hole, instead of fleeing or resisting my “contempt,” I was actually seeking it. I decided that a little directed wrath might be in order, and that immigration and the system which it represented—and even the whole of New York City—was a good place to channel my contempt. But now I was actively seeking the word, I couldn’t find it. Instead, I found the word forgiveness.
While a part of me was sending out Lucifer hordes into the city, accepting that the God of War and Vengeance would “deal hardly with them,” a greater part of me was with Christ, and felt only compassion and sorrow for a fallen world. Four walls had never seemed less solid or restricting. I took to singing Swans’ songs, “You are my Sunshine,” and Elvis (“Trouble”) to pass the time, thinking if I sung loud enough, someone might come and let me out. After a while an officer came and opened the door. My flight was in. I was escorted onto the plane and discovered that I had three seats, all to myself: three TV screens in the head rests, three blankets, and three pillows. It was looking to be the most luxurious flight I’d ever been on.
I noticed a small blonde boy sitting directly behind me, and overheard that his name was Jake. On the in-flight radio Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club was playing. On the TV, Mickey Mouse was having a musical duel with Donald Duck that ended with the arrival of a hurricane and a horse banging a drum.
I was on my way home.