The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Day #7--Underground Freeway

Notes from the Underground
Underground Freeway–Thursday, Day 7, May 28, 2009
By Pi Kielty

[Author’s Note: As I returned home now 7 days ago, on Day 9 of the Underground Freeway, the final 3 notes of this “inquiry” come from my personal journal entries, and a recent memory already fading. Note #7, to warn a reader with apologies, will use a different tense than the present-tense. The final three days of my journey in search of a “Question” required a little reflection, yes, but gave way to pressing life and work which I had to resume upon returning home. With a sincere hope, days 7, 8, & 9 will not disappoint an audience too terribly much even though I write from elsewhere, off the road, back in the home Underground].

On the evening of Day 6, following the tour of Stone Mtn.’s church architecture, B., Lucky’s husband, remained at home, while Lucky and I joined a good friend of both their’s, a new friend I made that night. Bryce had an interest in history, my area of degree study in university. Bryce and I quickly engaged in discussion about obscure figures from distant times, and not so distant tragedies that befall the world in sharper episodes when reason fails to moderate illusions.

I drove both of them in Lucky’s van to a coffee shop that doubled as an empty Wednesday night tavern. Along the railroad tracks, just short of the business downtown up one hill and down another from Lucky and B.’s home, Stelliga’s was located within an old brick freight house in the restored depot of the rail yard. Inside, the coffee tavern had a high, empty ceiling, low lights dripping downward like stalagmites obscuring by the soft glare the black indoor cavern above us.

The bar occupied the far left corner of the main room, with the large landscape window to its left viewing an empty gravel marshaling yard the size of three football fields, and the two lone cars in it, the other belonging to the bartender. On the right wall, I saw the espresso machine, and on the back wall an orange oversized cooler thermos labeled with “Puggie’s Punch.” Not distracted and scarce aware of the liquor bottles lined up behind Bethesame, our blonde amiable bartender, I ordered from her an iced coffee. Lucky ordered a dark, acidy beer, and Bryce his draft in a clear bottle.

As a peculiar blend of tavern and coffee house, and empty of souls beside the four of us, I could relax enough in this easy, rather classic atmosphere of shaded red brick and old deep brown beams supporting the building like pillars of an ancient temple of Bachus married to Minerva. Inside Stelliga’s, Lucky, Bryce and I escaped the responsibilities of the real world beyond, as we played free pool on a black felt table that rolled like the hills on either side of the freight house.

We left Stelliga’s, once Bryce and Lucky drank three of their kinds of fermented fun, and I drank three strong brews of caffeinated hyper-time, “hurry up java.” Who was doing the worse drug–those who drank alcohol? Or I who pretended caffeine wasn’t a buzz?

I drove us to another near empty place uphill, in a refurbished downtown. Here, I ordered charged soda, my friends still drinking beer. My buzz on coffee lessened, and now I just enjoyed the fun. In the game room of Downer Diane’s, we failed to build a second story of a very ugly card house, on the green baize of the pool table, this one, however, costing a buck to play. We saved a dollar or two on the pool game, which my two friends would not have been able to see or play well enough anyway.

Lucky and I met a girl, here far away from our old Dodge, who years after we graduated school, drank and socialized at The Bar. Lucky and I left many old haunted beer and gin halls in Dodge behind us. Like ghosts of that past, The Bar appeared in our vivid conversation. Aubrey, with curly blonde hair, has a toddler and husband at home on this cool end of May night. Bryce channeled through the music stations on TV, and the two women and I shared stories about what was where, and what was the taste, feel, and sound in The Bar, a place of intricate and eclectic, eccentric, sensory entertainment. The Bar without exaggeration owns worldwide fame. Known without need of advertising, from Scotland to Japan, The Bar holds memories foolish and foul for me. For Lucky, I know, it gave her fun and headache pain on mornings after, demanding a bloody mary breakfast cure. For Aubrey, who knows? But what compelled her to leave family and home behind for a few hours at DD’s by herself, where she said she had never drank before?

Decades previous, before evenings in The Bar, the “guece” of my own homemade Kielty Cocktails put me in looped frames of mind that cut away layers of perception, and opened new colored pages of wonderland fiction. I escaped to other worlds, like many addicts before had done for several thousand years, and many others will do for thousands after me. The escape within became an outward isolation. In The Bar, I made no friends, and I didn’t want to make friends; hence Lucky was my only friend at times, in spite of myself, and I’ve been lucky to have her. For twenty years, she helped in repairing the reality I tried to destroy with malicious enthusiasm. Life at The Bar was not a life worth living for me, even if I pretend to reflect on the few odd accidents of fun.

I struggled for years on that binge. Whether marijuana, mushrooms, morphine or mash, and sometimes all in a single trip down a road I forgot to avoid, addiction near destroyed me. I achieved recovery from my selfish purge of all friends and feelings, family and second thoughts. For several years now, I neither drink nor indulge in anything clouding a clean conscience or the honesty of my spirit. Everyone I know who overcame the same self-imposed obstacle to living free from that in which they lost themselves, experienced the same strung out despair of losing not only themselves, but all the fun for which we all hope to fill our days. For those like me, it becomes a choice every hour, every minute, every second to live between two choices: Life and happiness or misery in living death. Death is the inevitable destiny on this side of our viewpoint. From my own poor point of view, why hasten the inevitable via uncontrolled and constant compulsion or complete intoxication, if there is only misery to be experienced? It would be better to live (then dying) while enjoying the fun, than not life as we should hope it could be: A happy life better lived than not.

Reflecting on the evening the next day, Day #7, a Thursday, I meditated on an essay I read more than 12 years ago, Leo Tolstoy’s musing on “why men stupefy themselves,” (which also applies to women). As people, we do have free-will, and for sure it is Nature’s greatest gift, greatest responsibility, and greatest curse all in one. For my mind and body, my free choice only found a more fulfilling path once I decided to not intoxicate myself with the garbage that littered my spirit. Only I could make that choice. Only others can do it for themselves. Yes, Lucky and Bryce, and a lot of my friends, find enjoyment, responsibly and irresponsibly as their personal Nature’s determine their ability to use alcohol, etc. to party for fun, or, like people like me, PARTY to perish. Some people can handle it, and still have fun. But I, almost from the start of drinking at age 17, lost the ability to have fun. It was desire to find the insatiable hunger for fun and forgetting that I fell deeper into the emptiness that has no face. People who do not seek that hunger like a starving vampire hunting for blood never think of it. It was in replacing the fun lost faster and faster every time I used that caused me to use faster and faster to try to keep it. Tolstoy explained that to me in a writing over a century old, a fellow I never knew, knew me well. Even once I knew the “irreplaceable life” remained too low as I got too high, my free-will still becomes a choice every minute to find a better way.

I never found freedom in funny fungus. An empty bag or empty bottle left me full of my guilt. The other things? Well, those rarely get mentioned in polite society. And they never come out with the impolite around. Lucky and Bryce? They had fun doing their thing. I had my fun doing mine.

On Day #7, all into the night, Lucky and I and the kids stayed home and watched movies. B. and Bryce went funnin’ at Stelliga’s. In that I found some real fun. I found in a life “uncomplexified” that simple things make me happy. Nature gives everyone, including the reformed addict, the inalienable Right to Pursue Happiness, not happiness itself. Finding it, achieving, living it, but most important, sharing the good times and fortune with others, goes back to the choices that each and everyone of us have to make. Life becomes a redux on a daily basis: Better to live the good life worth living than a poor one defined only by fulfilling selfishness. My use of anything at someone else’s expenses is a moral theft. My use of my life by living and sowing misery on me or others is theft of Nature’s most precious resource for me, which is the limited time I own everyday to live. Perhaps the “secret” I look for rests in becoming a more positive person making someone or something in the world better by my presence. Nothing ever seemed so fun as just pure, steady, simple happiness. I found I could only be happy by acceptance of reality as I found it. I do my best to refine each day of my life to the circumstances I find it, even considering the pain and grieving for loved ones hurt or dying.

I refuse to live for a cause of misery and pain! Long live optimism, faith, positive attitude, and the happy roads upon which those gates open!

As a good friend helped me frame drafting this note once I returned to work after the trip, the “Question”: “How do we find happiness? How do we enjoy life?” brought me closer to ultimate reason for my trip on the Underground Freeway. I still sought the question for the answer I lived without knowing the “why?”.Day #7, entwined with the evening of Day #6, unlocked a door barring my entry.


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