Soma rang for you Sunday morning. You got in touch with each other by the evening. There were fireworks in Bray. She and some friends were going. Hell yes, you wanted to come. A beautiful woman named Jesse swung by to pick you up. No one else wanted to go–probably with good reason, as you disappeared for two days the last time you were out.
In Bray, the pubs were crowded as hell. You clung to whomever you could so as not to get separated. Beers and Jagger left and right, as well as trips to the women’s bathroom for other stuff. Madness. Great fun. In the last hour at the pub, you found yourself dancing, flung into a circle of strangers linked arm and arm, spinning round and round, jumping up and down. Really, the stuff that drunken montages are made of.
Bars closed. Your party walked to the beach, where you remained for about an hour, skipping wonderfully flat stones into the ocean, carving lines in the wind, and gazing upon the dark orange halo over the horizon. The sun never really sets, it seems. At long last, you all staggered through Bray to a taxi stand, taking a brief pause to pee in an alley. Classic.
The rest of the night will mostly go without saying. By the end of it, your lips and limbs were blue. Blue. And sentences were beyond your power to compose. You wound up watching 6 hours of Irish stand-up comedy, and finally passed out sitting up on the floor after staving off nausea for what seemed like an eternity. Completely exhausted, barely able to form sentences, you were returned to you farm where you politely excused yourself from a room full of knowing, smiling faces, and went to bed. Yes, bed, but not after writing an appallingly pathetic email to Kady: ”im goingto die. see you at 7.”
The next morning–afternoon?–you were tired as a dog. Tried to eat some oatmeal, but found the half-way point through the bowl to be too intimidating, so returned to bed for another couple hours of sleep. With your head lowered, you sorted out a day pack and headed down the hill to town, in order to take the bus into Dublin to meet Kady. You were so out of it, you spent two hours at the bus stop staring at the scabs and veins all over the backs of your hands, wondering why in the world human beings voluntarily poison themselves.
Upon meeting Kady, you looked and felt like you’d done a 3-day Walk Of Shame. Sad, exhausted, and in no condition to be at all pleasant, you definitely put a damper on her trip, but after three more ”recovery” days, the two of you managed to have a couple decent experiences, including the Jameson whiskey tour, where the two of you volunteered for the tour guide, were given three additional shots of alcohol and official whiskey taster diplomas. That may have been the highlight, because you were wretched for most of the trip. Kady, with all the God-given patience in the world, helped you take your life into perspective and lit a candle for you in a Catholic church.
Once Kady left on Saturday morning, you returned to the farm, did a little bit of work, and then found yourself thrust into conversation with a couple of Marlene’s Belgian guests. Marc, here to improve her 20-year-old reed bed (the water filtration system), launched into an epic monologue about Freemasonry: no one can be trusted; everyone is a member. Later you talked to Ben, Marlene’s brother. You had met him briefly when you brought Kady to the farm for a night, and you found him disconcertingly confrontational and full of questions. Now you can see that he is just a deep thinker and particularly interested in the human condition. Yesterday, he took a peculiar interest in your situation.
Maria, he said, you control your destiny. You are not a victim of chaos. Yes, the world is chaotic, but you can draw enough energy to control what happens to you. You are an expression of a certain sphere of being. You are conscious and autonomous. You didn’t get an infection in your knee; you enabled it, just as you enable a hangover by choosing to drink too much.
He asked you what you want most in the world. Fuck. The problem is that you don’t even know what you want. Happiness, you suppose? And what is happiness? To exist in each moment, no matter what, and value it and enjoy it for its own sake, not caring what you have or where you end up; give up desire and self-criticism.
He was a difficult man to digest. He said a few offensive things to you (you WANTED a life-threatening infection?!), as well as things that really challenge your way of thinking. You have always tried to keep an open mind, and you have tried to wrap your mind around non-Western interpretations of existence, but you were still very challenged. Very challenged–irked at times. It is difficult to alter or forsake everything you know or believe in order to step into another perspective and have your life launched back in your face so bluntly–so candidly. You, Maria, are responsible for everything you do–obviously–as well as every chaotic thing that happens TO you. If you have darkness wrapped around you like a little prison, and you claim to be a victim of yourself and your conditions–you are still choosing that fate. Ask, and you shall receive. Successful people don’t always claw tooth and nail for everything. They are open, and they ENABLE to events to occur, rather than force them.
Thanks, Ben. Maria, you will learn how to ask. It seems to be one thing you’ve never been willing to do. Ask for nothing, and you’ll owe nothing in return and be absolved from responsibility. But you’re still responsible for yourself.