As I get older and continue to indulge in my self destructive habits I look back on my life and reflect on my experiences and the influence they have had on my life. Generally speaking, I have always been willing to jump into the abyss. Flinging myself from safety into the unknown. It was the leap into whatever awaited me that was the attraction. I have come to believe that. In that moment there was hope. A renewal. A challenge. A chance to renew or reinvent myself.
When I was about 9-10 years old my friends and I would ride our bikes, exploring, and we would find new places. Once we came upon a wooded area with a small stream. Near the stream there were bees. My friends wanted nothing to do with bees and we left. I later returned, squatted next to the stream and held my hand out. A single bee came and lit on my hand and stung. Of course the bee dies after the sting, so he left my hand. Presently another bee lit, stung and left. Over a few minutes time, a bee would light, sting and leave. I probably took about a dozen bee stings before I left. I never told anyone. What strikes me now, looking back, is there wasn’t a swarm of bees attacking me. One came, stung and left. Then the next and so on until I left. I don’t know what (if anything) to make of it. Just a snapshot in my memory.
Fast forward 20 years and I am plummeting to earth from 13,000 feet. Only in the first few seconds does it feel like falling, and I am definitely falling. I accelerate to terminal velocity. Terminal velocity _ the constant speed that a freely falling object eventually reaches when the resistance of the medium through which it is falling prevents further acceleration. In my case 120 mph. Sixty seconds before I pull the ripcord. One full minute of knowing I am safe and can enjoy the view. Now I feel the rush of the air tearing at the skin of my cheeks, the altimeter on my wrist is unwinding. I have control of my body. I see the earth getting closer by the second. I have time.
I am 21 years old. Fresh out of the Navy, I packed up my VW van and drove from Tampa to California where I had made friends the year before. It was to be the summer of scotch. An acquired taste. I worked at It. A fifth a day toward the end. It was there at 22 years of age that I emptied the medicine cabinet of a friend and woke up in a padded cell.
More later - maybe