Home > Uncategorized > The Confessions of Mike Trapp. Chapter X: Anza Borrego

The Confessions of Mike Trapp. Chapter X: Anza Borrego


Mike chin on hands

So things didn’t work out. Amy and I were living in Toledo. We moved to Lansing because she got a job as a librarian at a domestic violence resource place. In that transition we decided to separate and I went back to the house on Rotor Street in Monroe that had been my folks’ house. After my mom died, dad and Brenda lived at home. Dad just started living in his truck and just didn’t come home anymore. Brenda had the house, so I went and stayed with her.

About that time I took a trip to Anza Borrego [State Park in Southern California]. I’d caught a ride with my dad and we rode around to the desert Southwest. That was in January. I went just to kind of put my head together. I wanted to go off and camp by myself. I wanted to make it more of kind of a spiritual retreat. Aleister Crowley’s book Four really gets into what was it about Moses and Mohamed and the Buddha and Jesus that allowed them to go out and change the world. There was no point of doctrine that all of them believed. They believed very different things, but they all did the same thing. They went off into the wilderness and they came back, changed and then they implemented home from there.

And so I went to Anza Borrego both to clear my head. I have a place in the winter campaign. John had had recommended it as a nice place to camp in January and my dad got rides through near there because he used to deliver near Palm Springs. He dropped me off there and I camped by myself for about three weeks. It was just windy and it’s still winter camping, even though it’s like 70 degrees in the day time it get got cold at night. My gallon of water would freeze through, but the wind would be blowing. I just felt I’d kind of like blow through me and let go of a lot of stuff and I wanted to own my own hurt. So that didn’t carry any kind of bitterness or resentment. I wanted to just kind of feel it in and let it go.

I also opened myself up. Now, I was about 30. Jesus became spiritually aware at 30. He studied and then, for 3 years laid out an ambitious plan of healing people, feeding people and telling people stories. I was about 30 and times were weird. 9/11 had happened and the world seemed to be changing. Something that had really impressed upon my thinking during my breakdown days: I remember sleeping in front of the TV, I woke up and it was like the year 2000 was flashing and this was 1996. With Y2K and the change of millennium. I felt like that that was something. I explored that and spent a lot of time just being open to the universe and praying.

I was wandering around following ravens in the desert. You can only go hiking so many times and reading and you’re by yourself and talking to the camp ranger for about five minutes a day. Some days not. So, I was following these ravens and had been in this really open spiritual place. Going back to my Bible as literature class, one of the points that Dr. Roberta made that really struck me about Jesus is that Jesus was who he was. And there was also the times it was not that the times were right for that message that could move things. That just helped me see that this is not the time. Thirty is an arbitrary number. Moses was in his forties and fifties, and Mohammad was in his forties. Buddha, I don’t know how old he was.

I’m only using those folks as exemplars and models. I think if you want to implement a change process or decide who you are as a person and that, that’s what I’m talking about when I’m telling this story and what I’m doing. Take into account the conditions of the world or the things that I think are existential threats to all of our existence are that our, a front against what I would consider God’s justice or human justice. There are people who have nothing and struggle for their very existence and they are brothers and sisters and have had a right and a need for that assistance in a system that they can be successful and not have to be afraid. Everybody all the time. Everywhere. What do you do with those kinds of things? You know?

For me, I’ve decided that from time to time, you know, I’m going to pull back and I’m going to reflect and I’m going to make concrete changes in my life based upon those reflections.

As I follow the Ravens around and I found this morterro stone. They’re the mortar stones that the indigenous folks would pound grain with and this was a little brown, which they said that probably had symbolic powers. I just kind of carried around it and use it as a worry stone. I just felt that now and then I was on the right path and to keep doing what I’m doing and study in and learn and try to help. The millennium was important and as we had more people who were born in the new millennium and look at us who were bringing these kinds of ancient disruptive ideas about accumulating things and having stuff and engaging in this process of extraction and manufacture and distribution and consumption and disposable in such a way that puts the entire continued existence of life on the Planet Earth at-risk to meet some unmet psychological and emotional needs and feed ourselves, clothed ourselves, and have shelter in this short term destructive not even very fun way. Younger people are going to reject this and there’s going to be a mass movement.

You can’t stay in the pocket, you know, when I was burning brightly, when I was mad and when it’s come upon me of times when like when I’ve been campaigning or other times when you’re, or when I’ve been organizing giant protest or when I’ve been reading, doing a lot of poetry and you’re making this powerful emotional connections and doing things, then there’s the feeling that goes along with that. You feel it. It’s like a fire. You can’t keep that fire going year after year after year.

I got in the pocket and politics – to jump ahead a little bit – I was on 40, 50 hours a week plus a 40 hour a week job and I was sleeping and working all the time. Then it was really engaging and fun and I got a lot done. But it was maddening, too.

So I learned a lot in Anza Borrego and and I healed some and I got, I felt validated that I was on the right path and that this was not the time to go all in and to try to implement it, plan spiritual and cultural transformation to get us on a path towards equity and sustainability.

I came back from the trip. I worked, I lived with my sister Brenda. I, one of my old boss had started a private practice and so I had gotten social work licensure in the State of Michigan. So I started doing family counseling, a lot of abuse and neglect cases. I started doing batterer intervention, which is really amazing to go through separation and divorce with a group of guys who were also often in separation or divorce or struggling in a relationship and modeling taking on patriarchy and male privilege.

It really helped me grow as a man to help these dangerous and abusive men who also had a lot of love in their hearts and a desire to be good parents and husbands and boyfriends or just peaceful people or maybe they didn’t even see that they had a problem, but when the process went on and they had to own up to at least that one thing, because nobody got there by not having to do at least one terrible thing. All of them admitted that they had engaged to behaviors that controlling assholes did. And they could learn not to do that. And we could do that in a group and support each other and tell our stories and hold ourselves accountable and that was a good and powerful thing. I did that for a number of years.

When I moved out to work for CAN, I had talked my brother John and his partner to come out and organize because they are great organizers. I knew this movement was cooking and it was a chance for room and board and free weed. So they did. John and Marsha stayed out there and ultimately they broke up. Marcia moved further up the West Coast. John stayed out there and he worked for Dr. Todd Mikuriya who was really the one of the most significant and earliest medical marijuana practitioners. He had turned Jack Herer onto the idea of medical marijuana. Herer was the guy who wrote The Emperor Wears No Clothes. He offered the phrase In any condition for which marijuana provides relief and was behind Prop 215 argument that since there’s not the research on marijuana, you have to be able to try it out. He considered marijuana an easement, which means even if it didn’t have any ability to treat that just being high makes you feel better when you’re sick. It’s just easier and you’re in a better place and a more relaxed and open state. if you’re dealing with a terrible illness, that’s a pretty good place to be.

John talked me into going out and working with Dr. Todd and the clinic. And so I moved back to California, kind of steered clear in my old crowd because I didn’t know how things had ended awkwardly. A little bit of regret about that because I could have reestablished some friendships while I was there and I didn’t. Now, I talk to them on Facebook. It’s just water under the bridge.

I worked at the marijuana clinic and we would do medical marijuana evaluations and I would do the blood pressures and schedule appointments and follow-up for the people who had high BPs. They were trying to treat the pot doctor like he was a primary care doctor and I would say, ‘No, you got a primary care doc and you need to get in with that doctor.’

We did good medical practice and it added to my kind of interest in chronic disease management. It was really the first time I kinda did that. I got into some biofeedback. Dr. Todd was an early innovator on that field and I took a class on biofeedback and it was really cool because a lot of the things that I had done with relaxation and states of consciousness, it was cool to demonstrate that on the machine. When I did alpha wave training, you would put on the thing that would measure your alpha waves and it would put up your alpha waves as a blue bar. You could close your eyes and that raises your alpha waves by about 10%. The trick is to using passive volition, you allow the bar to grow higher and alpha waves are created and this thing that is unconscious comes under your conscious control through a process called passive volition. It’s an act of the will, but it’s an allowance rather than a making.

That was fun because I put it on and rose the bar at-will the first time I tried and learned some stuff about hand-warming: You can control migraines by moving blood to your hands and you can check that by hand temperature. It added to a lot of these things that I had already been doing just by noticing the bodily symptoms and using that as how your body temp can be measured by the warmth of your hand, that had come to me when, during my manic breakdown, I noticed when I used my motivational speakers voice – the voice I use when I speak in front of a large group – my palms would sweat because I was afraid of speaking to the group, but then I would take a deep breath: fear plus oxygen equals ecstasy.

I was intrigued by that idea of ecstasy that I had felt in drugs, but also had felt at other times, like seeking really well. We’re really not doing a great presentation or performance or speech in front of a crowd that’s feeling, it’s that same kind of feeling of ecstasy. I realized that it was an overcoming of as fear.

I had doubts about wanting to live in California because some things I didn’t like about it is the, the rubbing your nose at the disparities. You know, there’s a lot of homeless people, a lot of aggressive panhandlers, a lot of very rich people, a lot of things, this big class divide and and it’s just right there and you can’t really get away from it.

And everything’s expensive. So it seems like there’s this focus on money that’s more so than any place that I’ve been. Plus it’s really beautiful and there’s lots of things to do and you can find anybody who’s into anything. I had great Dungeons and Dragons group and got engaged with political stuff and saw great shows and went to all the wilderness areas in the West. It was a great time, but it wasn’t as change-the-world as I like to be. I also knew that my dad did live in his truck, was not going to be a sustainable solution.

And so I quit Dr. Todd. I’d saved up a little bit of money. I didn’t make much, so I didn’t have a lot of money.

I went backpacking in Big Sur. It was a lot like my trip to Anza Borrego only this time rather than just kind of reading books – I think I took a Bible to Anza Borrego – I took the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, the thing that the Jesuits do for 30 days. I thought I would self-coach myself. When I was at a training at at a Catholic school I went in their library and I pulled the meditations off the shelf and opened this page and read this one page on humility. It was just powerful about having the three levels of humility: One is treating other people like yourself. Two is only allowing yourself what you need. Three, always take the worst thing in the service of a higher purpose. So you can only have what you need. It’s better to be sick than well. It’s better to be poor than rich. That’s the highest form of humility.

I took those exercises and I was by myself and I was camping. One of the spiritual exercises is this thing called a colloquia, which is a form of prayer of this kind of imaginary conversation. I don’t want to give too much away about what they are, because when you take the exercises, you’re supposed to take them as you’re not knowing what they are. So I didn’t read ahead. Once I read that part in the book, I just read them as I went, so I don’t want to get into too much there, but it would involve these colloquia and these amazing conversations. I was by myself, and was engaged in this organized spiritual practice of meditating on the themes that would go on for like four days. You’re doing visualizations and reading and thinking about it while you’re hiking in this beautiful and the redwoods and drinking the pure mountain streams and only eat and what you can carry. It was just this amazing experience.

I started to realize that I was making a break with the real world and how things are organized, like owning a house or going to a job. Having a manic breakdown, I was in a world of one and nobody else is on your vibe and it’s frightening and scary. Freud says religion is insanity. I felt like I was getting to that point where I was going to make this breakthrough and I was going to be very much organized to be different. I just felt like the world said, ‘It doesn’t have to happen now.’

I stepped back from that. I planned to do the 30-day thing and do the whole with no thought in mind beyond just doing these exercises. And I stopped after two and a half weeks and I called my dad and, and he happened to be headed to Fresno. And I thought, well, I may never get a chance to have another trip with my dad. I started hitchhiking to Fresno. I’ve been living out of my backpack and I’ve been going to these resorts and having a meal maybe once a week and I would resupply. You’re like a middle class guy when you’re walking around the woods with a backpack and people treat you like you’re middle class guy. And I got in a car with the guy and I’m a middle class guy, hitchhiking and feel like, ‘Oh, I’ve been backpacking I got dropped off. I didn’t know how long I was going to stay.’ It’s totally cool thing to do. I got out of his car in Santa Cruz and I was a homeless person because I’m dirty and I have a backpack and suddenly without me changing I dropped like eight pegs in the social order.

I leaned my backpack outside of a Denny’s and had been washing in the streams for three weeks. And I washed in the sink and with the warm water and this slew. I thought I was clean, but this slew of brown came off and I realized I had this thin film of dust that I had for weeks. I literally teared up, I was so emotional about the beauty of plumbing. Any person with a backpack can stumble in and wash with warm water. I sat down and I ate my dinner at Denny’s and I had this experience like Jesus was there having dinner. It was this intense kind of colloquy.

Robert Anton Wilson talks about it. He says, pick anybody and read everything they ever wrote, read everything that anybody who knew them, what they had to say about them, meditate on those words, memorize those words, focus your consciousness on that person, and that person will speak to you. Knowing what my mom would say about different things. I do this with my brother where I’ll say what my mom would say about something. In an imitation. He can do it to me. We have that. Jesus is such a figure of literature and society and Christian society and then something that’s animated and intrigued me.

That was a an interesting and powerful experience. I took that trip with my dad and it was the last trip I got to ride with him. I rode with them for about two weeks and got out and Eugene, Oregon and hooked up with my friends. John and Lisa. I had made some music with John and they let them Toledo. He has a great ethnomusicologist and just a great musical partner. We’d done a bunch of metaphysical roots music in the style of the Carter Family. It was good to reconnect with them. Their friend was driving a U-Haul to the Bay area so I caught a ride with her and told her the story of my life thus far, and shared a lot of the things that I’ve talked about. We really had this great bonding experience. She was moving there and wanted to stay cause it felt like we made a connection, but I had just left from there.

I caught a train to Toledo, Ohio and Mr. Harry Train picked me up at the airport. He was living with his sister in South Toledo and stayed in his basement for a few days. I called Sarah Bantz about taking her up on letting me crash with her if I was going to start a new life in Columbia, Missouri. I stopped and worked some construction with Eric Hempel in Champaign, Illinois. I tried to hitchhike to Columbia, but got rousted by the cops. I ended up coming into Columbia on a Greyhound in January of 2006.


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