Home > insanity, travel > going crazy part 4

going crazy part 4

So my last night in Amsterdam, I hadn’t slept in 10 days, and Jennifer had given me a 100 guilders with the instructions to spend it on something frivolous. I left the mind spa immediately; I had been out of tobacco for a while and had been chain smoking like a fiend so my first order of business was to try to scare up a pack of smokes. Not so easily done in Europe where everything kind of closes at 6:00. I started walking, it was chilly and drizzling and I didn’t have a jacket. I had “People Are Strange” running through my head, probably because I’d had a couple of drinks earlier at The Doors, which is a bit of a franchise over there. It’d comforted me to know that somewhere Jim Morrison is always still crooning. I thought, I felt intensely, so intensely I can still summon up the feeling vividly now 12 years later, I was “strange” to be out late without a jacket and sure enough a face came out of the rain. I heard someone speak, a voice speaking a strange language behind me, but I felt like he was talking to me. I thought it could be the language of the angels and I could almost understand it. I turned and there was a Rastafarian standing at the edge of a street lamp so the glow backlit him like a halo. He had a holy look about him. He asked what I wanted and I told him I thought he had spoken to me. He asked me if I spoke some language I’d never heard of and I told him I didn’t but I thought he was talking to me. He asked, “What are you looking for?” which I felt had tremendous implications but was too much to respond too so, so after a pregnant pause, I told him I wanted a pack of cigarettes.

He said follow me and led me off into a part of The City I’d never been through several long and dark alleys and I started to get a bit anxious about where he was taking me and was of course hopelessly lost, but I pushed it out of my mind thinking he could be an angel and not wanting to be ungrateful, untrustworthy. Ultimately we arrived at an after-hours club with loud music blaring and a young white crowd apparently having a good time. He told me I could get cigarettes in there. I asked him if I could buy him a drink and he shook his head sadly and said they wouldn’t serve him there and walked across the square. I was immensely saddened by this and I stood by the doorway for a bit torn between the pull of nicotine and justice. I wandered a little down the sidewalk and saw a series of 7 playing cards laying face up on the sidewalk and read them as a tarot spread. The cards showed a perilous journey whose ultimate destination is confusion. As I pondered this the Rastafarian came back and asked why I didn’t go inside. I told him that I was not going to go somewhere where they wouldn’t let him in.

He seemed pleased with this response and he walked me across the square and introduced me to an African immigrant and told me that he could help me. In his broken English the immigrant offered to find me a prostitute and some cocaine. I told him that that wasn’t what I was looking for. I told him that I had 100 guilders that I was to spend on something frivolous and that I wanted cigarettes. He led me on a long walk and as we walked I attempted to explain what frivolous means. “You know something spontaneous needed. Something fun we don’t need.” We talked a little about our lives and the state of race relations in Amsterdam and I felt we quickly developed a sort of camaraderie that transcended our different backgrounds and agendas. Once we were accosted by a gang of blacks and my new friend stepped forward and told them I was with him and he was helping me find a good time. Once we were accosted by white policemen and I stepped forward and explained he was with me and he was giving me a tour. We talked about how this was a model of how relationships should be, mostly walking side by side but sometimes one than the other stepping forward as the situation warranted. We walked through the seedier part of the Red Light district than what I’d walked through with my friends touristing. It had made me uncomfortable seeing the women displayed in large glass windows like puppies at the mall pet store. This was grittier but more real and we bought beers and loose cigarettes from some of the whores and hung out for chit chat. We walked about a good part of the night most of what is a blur although I remember a short ride in an unregistered taxi which I was scolded for as an exorbient waste of money and smoking crack in some alley. I was so spun I couldn’t even feel it.

Ultimately 100 guilders will not take you very far especially if your guide is a crackhead and we found ourselves at the train station. After ascertaining that I really didn’t have anymore money my friend left to run a short errand and did not return.

I was still driven by this incredible restlessness and a cop had rousted me and told me to move on. I didn’t have a key to the mind spa at this point and didn’t want to wake everyone up and started wandering the streets. I was overcome by a great weariness and began to count the days since last I’d slept. I began to see the extent of how much I was spun, it had been upwards of 10 or 11 days, I was not sure, I sat in a bus shelter and pondered what had transpired, I was so exhausted. I thought of this new gift of gab I’d acquired and remembered how I’d talked our way from the cops earlier. I thought about ecstasy and what was its nature, not just the drug but that peculiar feeling of grandiose rapture that it so expertly duplicated but that I thought I’d had felt before. I wondered what the connection was. I tried to recapture that feeling and that voice of persuasive charm even though I was just speaking thoughts in my head,that I’d used in the furious tabling session, 450 guilders in 45 minutes, money was now meaningless, raised virtually at will, functionally unnecessary. I began to see that I’d been able to tap into that energy before when speaking to large crowds. When you have that rapt attention of many, and you are speaking to each like they are an individual. I thought of The Voice as described in Dune or the Jedi mind trick, “These aren’t the droids your looking for”. I remembered the terror before stepping onto the podium during my speaking engagements as an activist. That raw terror, and then a deep breath, and a plunge into The Word. I saw that the heart of ecstasy was overcoming fear and I began to remember how that felt in my body. I stretched out on the small bench, devised to keep the homeless from an easy rest, and began to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth slowly and deeply casting my focus on the feeling of air going by my septum. I relaxed all the muscles in my tired and battered body pushed way too hard for way too long. As I reached a state of total relaxation I felt my palms become moist like before addressing a large crowd. Ignited by the oxygen I was again burning brightly. The boundless energy returned and my exhaustion was no more. I was beyond the collapse and could return to the mind spa to face my future. Later I encapsulated this idea into a formula: fear + oxygen = ecstasy.

going crazy part 5

going crazy part 1

Categories: insanity, travel
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  1. November 6, 2011 at 8:49 pm

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