“Don’t confuse the teacher with the lesson, the ritual with the ecstasy, the transmitter of the symbol with the symbol itself.” ~ Neil Gaiman
Something really mystified me lately: I had no idea how iconic and influential Prince was, is, whatever; no idea why his death flashed so brightly through the media. It didn’t take me long to learn the why of my ignorance, but it was not something I figured out, it came to me through a spark of intuition. Here’s the thing, k? I also never was much into Michael Jackson until he died, except maybe for the mashup I once heard, where some DJ dude crafted together Michael’s “Billy Jean” with Steely Dan’s “Do it Again”. Likewise, I had no idea how big an impact the release of the MacIntosh computer was when it happened. The computer was released just over a week before I banged my head a good one. Although the album had been released two years earlier Michael’s stellar achievement was lost to me due to head trauma. By the time Prince’s “Purple Rain” was released, mid-june of ’84, Prince’s stellar achievement was effectively nil to me because I was just beginning to realize that, because of the head trauma, I was truly, in every sense of the word, fucked up. I missed a lot because of the traumatic brain injury. The surgical nurse at the Jackson Memorial Trauma Center, at the University of Miami, told me that there was no neurological damage because there had been no concussion. When I told this to the lovely Dr. Solomon, my psychiatrist for two years, she charmingly said, with anger in her voice, “Bullllll – oney!”. I love that woman. My mind was so rattled for that first two years that the real world might as well have been a dream, which to me it was. My bad. There are numerous scenes that stick out from those murky months but one of them was so touching that it’s surreal nature played second fiddle. One year after the accident I landed a job as a bellman is the Local 3-star hotel, Cheeca Lodge. One day I was in one of the third floor oceanfront rooms, and I found a gasping seagull out on the patio. The poor bird had clearly flown smack into the sliding glass door. The flash of empathy that did the tsunami thing through my heart and mind was as profound as it gets. It was the head trauma. I related fully, yet the odd thing was that I was both sad and full of joy, joy at the wonder of a seabird’s life, even though it was about to end. I picked up the bird and cradled it in my left arm, then carried it down to the front desk. The place was just getting busy with Happy Hour, and Early Bird dining for seniors, so the lobby had more than a few people in it. The two women behind the desk were horrified that I had brought the bird to them. I stood there, with the bird cradled like a baby in my arms, smiling yet teary-eyed, stroking over the bird’s heart, as I told them how life doesn’t end at death. The bird would be okay once she crossed over to the Other Side. The seagull died right then. There was a little birdie sigh, and I watched as the soul left the body. I was like that back then.
I’m still a little wacky from the full moon. The past week, mental health-wise, has been, shall we say, challenging. I think it was a combination of the Bighorn sheep (see EyeYotee post from April 23rd) and the dedicated care from my beautiful physical therapist that helped me get a handle. The combination of the low-grade mental health crisis with the power of the full moon felt like a stiff, jagged wind blowing through my soul. As I lay, eyes closed, with the therapist cradling my arm against her hip, I felt, along with the sensuous animal warmth, human warmth, the calm inner peace that so rarely appears when my mind is snagged and entangled in the vibes of mundane life. Nurture, dude – nurture! Later that day I stood at the edge of the chasm of the Rio Grande Gorge, watching three rams munching on sagebrush, and the scene looked so Disney-ish, until I shifted my focus into the Spiritual realm. Here was life. Precious, glowing life. My sense of wonder held sway; and the joie de vivre as well. The beautiful therapist, through her very touch, had already kindled gratitude for me. Ohhh! – Another thing I forgot to mention, concerning why I was out of touch with pop culture back in 1984, was that I used to listen to late night AM talk radio in those days. My brain was on fire. I often could not sleep. Most of the topics of conversation on those talk shows were a little offbeat, or obscure. One of the talk show hosts was Larry King. I could imagine sitting across the table from Larry, being interviewed by the man that I now know would become famous. I would tell Larry my story, including the celestial journey I took during the NDE, while my broken body lay upon the tarmac. And Larry would then ask, “Tell me, did it hurt?”. Yes sir it did.
Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.