I was 18 when I took my first drink of alcohol.
The years that followed are a blur of concerts, drinks, weed, light shows, jam bands, working late nights in bars, and narcotics—mostly narcotics. I’ll never forget how narcotics made me feel initially. They were my answer for everything. They took away all of the pain that I was going through. My social anxiety was suspended, and I could effectively be who you needed me to be so that you would like me. Granted narcotics make us feel a great deal, but in reality they only suffocated any real emotions that I had.
I was focused on the buzzing euphoria behind my eyes that sometimes made them heavy.
There isn’t much to say about those years. I revisit them only in closed groups with those who understand the living hell that addiction brings to our frightened, bleeding souls. What’s important to note is that I thought I had found my answer, and my obsession with it nearly killed me.
Getting clean came with getting honest. I had to shine the light of awareness across my life.
With the help of those who have come before me, I combed through my experiences, not looking for an answer, rather looking for opportunities to right my wrongs. I sought out how I might practice right thought and right action. I found my life had been a series of delusions in which I had acted incorrectly due to my ignorant perception of self and reality. My decisions, when based in fear and ignorance, brought results that caused more suffering. I discovered my desire to avoid reality was slowly killing me. I find my dis-ease stems from my difficulty in perceiving reality as it is.
In the beginning I was consumed in finding a magical answer to my life that would finally make me feel safe, at peace, and at home in this body. I have come to the realization that this is folly.
The answers do not precede the living of them, rather what we live becomes our answer.
If I look deeply into the nature of the questions, the musings of my heart, I discover the questions that I have are not conceptual questions at all. They are yearnings, dressed as questions, asked existentially. They are yearnings that correlate to the nature of being, of my being.
Who am I? What is my purpose? What is Love? How do I love? Whom do I love? Why is there pain? Why sorrow? Why evil?
These are not questions that I am seeking an answer to mentally. Rather I am seeking to live them. I am yearning to engage with these questions so that I might integrate them into the deepest layers of myself. When I look deeper still, I find that these are not outside of me at all, but rather they exist at the center of myself.
When I grow quiet, when I surrender to reality—to what is—and I go beyond my little life, and seek to engage with a perspective that is greater than me, I find these questions need no answering. I simply find that I must live with the mystery of being. I must accept that I am but finite, fallible, and small. I am not That which caused life, therefore I will not understand its complexity. Rather, in my surrender, I can experience the depth and width of paradox, of conflict, of ecstasy, with a heart that is full of wonder.
My questions have no answers. How could they?
They are the very drive and joy of life. They are the power to let go and let the process unfold as it should. So long as I meet that process in participation with right action and right thought, I will find myself living an authentic life in which I can take comfort in. I will know the freedom of uttering, I don’t know.
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Author: Jacob Crisp
Apprentice Editor: Alicia Wozniak / Editor: Travis May
Photo: Tareck Raffoul/Facebook