Where was I?

Oh yes, I had zoomed out of my body while running down the street after a morning spent with my stoner friends! 

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m assuming that:

a) you haven’t read last week’s post, or

b) your short-term memory doesn’t extend past one week.

In either case, you need to read this before you can proceed.

For the rest of you – let’s move on, shall we?

So there I was, a remnant of my former self. My energy had not only vacated my body, it had vacated my personality. What do I mean by this?

I mean that up until that point, my personality had been a stable structure that kept me together, one I’d taken for granted. Much like a house.

photo: Stefan Shambora on flickr

It had four walls and a roof. It was solid and dependable. It gave my life clarity and consistency.

But now, thanks to whatever the heck was going on with me, the house of my personality was gone. And I don’t mean it had been demolished and I was left with a wreckage site.

photo: Daniel Johnson on flickr

That would have left me with shards and pieces to contend with. I didn’t even have that.

Instead, all traces of my previous personality structure were gone. Everything I’d always thought of as “me” had vanished. All that was left was darkness, a void.

I was living alone at the time, and I managed to get myself home and plop my body into bed. I remember saying, This is where I’m supposed to pray to Jesus.

photo: Leah Gregg on flickr

I didn’t have a spiritual practice at the time, or even belief in a Higher Power. So my imagined plea to Jesus was one of both cynicism and defeat.

All I could do was lay there. 

I tried to review the things that made me feel like a person – my name, my history, my preferences. None of it made any sense. The only thing I knew for sure was that I wasn’t who I thought I was. 

Clearly some part of me remained. That part was observing what was happening and trying to make sense of it. And maybe that part was “me.” But it wasn’t the “me” I was accustomed to.

After about five hours, I felt a vague remnant of my old “self” return. But it was only a remnant. It took a year for the experience to wear off completely, and even then I wasn’t the same.

I know what you’re thinking: Gosh, Z. That sounds horrible. What a traumatic experience. I’m so sorry you had to go through that!

photo: Bill Sutton on flickr

No? That’s not what you’re thinking? Well, how about: Z, you’re such a goofball! Don’t you know that hanging out with stoners leads to come-to-Jesus moments like that?! You brought it on yourself! 

photo: Torben Hansen on flickr

No? Not that? What about: Hey, Z! I can’t stop thinking about the armadillos you mentioned a few posts back. What can we do to stop the epidemic of armadillo back pain that’s sweeping the nation? 

No? Not that either?

If you weren’t feeling sorry for me, or berating me, or quizzing me about armadillos, then perhaps you were in another camp altogether, one in which I now live. 

The philosophy of this camp goes like this:

The 23 experience was an opportunity. An opening. A doorway into a new life.

While the experience was happening, the notion that I could lose my egoic structure was terrifying. But the more this realization sank in, the more liberating it became.

In the year after the freaky 23 episode, I had other strange and unexplainable experiences. Only this time my stoner friends were not involved.

I started to become aware of a Power and Presence bigger than me. I began to have episodes of intuitive knowing that were beyond rational explanation. I started to meditate. I cleaned up my diet. I stopped doing drugs.

I began to realize that the whole “God thing” wasn’t a joke, or a crutch. God was real. Only God wasn’t what I’d thought it was. God wasn’t a cranky Caucasian senior citizen in the sky. God was energy. The energy of everything.

photo: paul bica on flickr

This energy could – and would – transform my life. I didn’t have to go it alone anymore. I had Help.

It took a fracture in my egoic structure for me to open to the idea that there was something Bigger going on. And, for me, that fracture happened a month after my 23rd birthday.

I knew it was coming. I thought I might die. And, ultimately, I was right.

I traded my old life for a brand new one. A life that’s far more expansive and fantastic than I ever would have imagined.

And it all started with the magical and mysterious number 23.

photo: Stephan Mosel on flickr

When have you lost your small self and opened to something bigger? What have been the 23 experiences in your life?

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