Karma, the sponsor
I met Karma at an AA meeting in Monterrey, CA. I had been studying foreign languages at The Academy and getting drunk with Navy Seals a little too much. After crashing my car into a telephone pole, I went to treatment to dodge jail.
I didn’t like AA. I don’t suppose I was meant to. The people were great, by and large, but there’s something strange about hanging out in a culture of quitters. This I explained to Karma.
“We’re not quitters in that sense,” she said. “Think of it more as a new beginning.”
After completing the mandatory 14 weeks, Karma said she wanted to take me someplace special to clear my mind. We drove down to Big Sur and stayed at the Esalen Institute and partook in a number of self-actualizing workshops. Some of it, I admit, was powerful. Next thing I knew, it had been a month of hot springs, yoga and foreplay with Karma in our bungalow. The outside world faded away and I was sober and clear in my mind. I discussed intentionality, synchronicity, and my inability to put faith in a higher being.
Karma made me feel good, wholesome even. Though we messed around, we never went all the way. There was something nice about that; prolonging the magic. She cooked me vegan meals in the mess hall and we took long hikes through the hills. After about three months, I stopped wanting a drink all together. We took some ayuasca one day in a grove of redwood trees and I saw my entire life splayed out in front of me, a glorious trainwreck of beauty, foreign lands and failure. I realized that I was talented—and a complete loser. And I came to some healthy conclusions about my parents. I let go of so many things.
One day, I said I was ready to go back to Monterrey and continue with my studies. I couldn’t just stay in Big Sur forever, nice as it was.
“I think you’re ready,” said Karma.
Initially, I still carried that glow with me to the city. But over time, it wore me down. Noises were louder. People seemed meaner, or completely detached from their selves. Strip malls were everywhere. Processed foods. Diesel fuel. Advertisements.
A bombardment of bullshit. It’s just the way things are when you’re not hiding out in some manufactured utopia in Big Sur. They try to buck reality out there just as much as any addict does.
It got me to thinking. If reality is basically just a collective assumption, and the majority of us are users of one kind or another, then altered mind states are actually a hell of a lot more in line with one’s surroundings. And I figure there are three different things a person can do: swim against the tide and get exhausted; don’t swim at all and aimlessly get pushed along; or, swim with the current.
I’ll never forget the look on Karma’s face when she pleaded with me not to go to my favorite dive bar. It said, goodbye.
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