Neolithic Nomad on the Borderline

My life changed directions abruptly after I ingested mushrooms on a mountain in Mexico. During the resultant visions, I witnessed the transformation of pre-atomic matter into conscious life, not in a time sequence, but all at once: in one big bang. My individual existence diminished in importance as my consciousness filled with an awareness of the indwelling spirit at the center of our being. The future of conscious life on Earth, and perhaps in the universe, became my immediate, heartfelt concern.

I began looking for recognition and acknowledgement of the indwelling spirit in the eyes of others with whom I came into contact. At the US border crossing, very few people registered positive in that regard, leaving me with an uneasy feeling as I started traveling north.

I had shaved both my head and my beard while bathing before I entered the US from Mexico. I dressed in natural cotton slacks and light pullover sweater, knowing it could be many days before I had a chance to bathe again. In a shoulder bag, I carried a jacket plus several changes of cloths. I thought about walking across the country but I didn’t feel safe so I bought a one-way bus ticket to Detroit and the US/Canadian border.

The intensity of the mushroom experience quickly diminished and I began to doubt the reality of the indwelling spirit. To keep the spirit alive, I ate only raw fruit, nuts, and seeds. I drank only water, fruit juice, and herbal tea.

At night, I felt claustrophobic in the packed bus speeding down the highway. I closed my eyes to meditate on the divine spirit world but I found an empty void instead, leaving me with an internal state of vertigo. During the daytime, however, sunlight changed everything. My senses came back to life. I didn’t worry about eternity, mortality, or insanity. I had no room in my consciousness for negative thinking. The closeness of others I now found stimulating. Still, I wondered: “Who am I? Where am I really going?”

An attractive woman bordered the bus on the second morning. She walked past the empty seat beside me and then she came back to it. “Is this seat taken?” she asked, flashing a tentative smile. When I nodded in the negative, her smile broadened, and she added: “Would you mind trading places and allowing me to sit by the window?”

“You can sit on my lap if you want,” I said, climbing from the seat. The look on her face informed me I had said the wrong thing. “I’m sorry,” I muttered. She slid into the seat by the window without further comment, placing her large purse to mark the space between us. My senses became saturated with her movements, her scent, her breathing. Sitting rigidly beside her, I closed my eyes and tried to meditate.

“How long have you been riding on this bus?” she asked, turning in my direction to rummage through her purse. I knew she didn’t really care, but she made it sound like she cared, and that impressed me. “I got on yesterday near the border,” I replied, feeling compelled to explain myself to her yet having nothing more to say. She stopped rummaging through her purse and waited. After a tense silence, she asked: “How far are you going?” She’s only being polite, I told myself. Yet I could feel her scrutinizing gaze as it moved across my body. I wanted to tell her that it was none of her business how far I was going, that I didn’t even know that myself. I had paid for a ticket to the Canadian border in Detroit but I could get off before then and go somewhere else. I’ll know if I want to get off when I get there, I felt. “Where do you live? Where are you from?” she persisted.

Inventing a story, I said: “I’m an artist. I sold all my possessions and I’m traveling to broaden my horizons.” As the words exited my mouth and reentered through my ears, they effectively created a functional persona, allowing me to relax enough to breath freely. “What kind of artist are you?” she asked, sounding sincerely interested. “I’ve tried almost every medium,” I answered, surprised by how easily the words flowed from my imagination: “I’ve mastered a few techniques. But I’m still seeking that ultimate inspiration. It could be heroic. Or perhaps demonic. Do I have a choice? Not if I want to call it art, ultimate art, which is more than just pretty pictures.” She flashed a wry smile and sat back in her seat, apparently satisfied, at least for the moment. How long had she been staring at me? It seemed like an eternity.

“This is my stop, do you want to get off and come home with me?” she asked, reaching for her purse, preparing to leave. Her words ignited an emotional explosion in my heart. I imagined myself holding her in my arms while undressing her. I could tell by the look on her face that she knew what I was thinking. “I can’t,” I whispered, barely able to move my lips. Before I could catch my breath, or change my mind, she slid around me, reached the isle, and headed for the door. She looked back from there, smiled, waved good-by, and quickly disembarked.

As the bus pulled away from the stop and continued on its way, the seat next to me remained empty. I felt a mixture of regret and satisfaction. Yet I knew I had done the right thing. And I silently chanted a mantra to suppress the thoughts of undressing her, thoughts that filled my imagination with images so vivid I wondered where they came from because I couldn’t actually remember ever being that intimate with a woman before. My identity crisis intensified as I closed my eyes and attempted to sleep. Nagging questions in the back of my mind refused to go away. “I dedicate myself to the indwelling spirit,” I chanted, attempting to relive that moment on the mountain, to renew my faith. Then, appearing out of a dark mist, like images from a recurring dream, I began to remember who I was before ingesting the mushrooms. Panic and dread flooded my consciousness.

I awoke from a deep sleep feeling refreshed. Looking out the window, I noticed the bus had pulled off the expressway and was turning into a large shopping mall parking lot. This could be where I get off, I though, cheered by the newness of everything in view. Moisture from an earlier rain slowly evaporated in the brilliant morning sun, adding extra sparkle, creating a fairytale appearance to the mall’s outer facade. When the driver announced we would be there for an hour while the bus was being serviced, I grabbed my bag and headed to the door, almost certain I had found my destination area. An hour of wandering around confirmed it.

“Stimulating and efficient,” I said aloud, repeating words from a printed handout discribing the mall. The area had once been prime farmland. After evolving through several stages of growth into a big-box corridor, it had recently been converted into a lifestyle super center with newly constructed replica of downtown Main Street America adjacent to the modern new mall. On the other side of the expressway, construction of a large mega-church neared completion. I informed the bus driver of my decision to stay in the area; then I walked to the on-site hotel and purchased a room with my credit card. As I bathed, shaved, and dressed in newly purchased clothing, I repeated a prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude.

It felt good to be in these new surroundings and I didn’t want to face the reality of my true identity. The magic mushroom episode in Mexico had awakened something inside of me. Instead of completing my mission, I now looked for a way to escape from it. My orders were to select a target and then act on it alone; but the more I studied my chosen target area, the less I wanted to destroy it. The shopping mall, the lifestyle center, and the newly build replica of a small town main street provided ample opportunity for a spectacular event that would make my superiors proud of me. But I was beginning to like living in a hotel, wearing expensive cloths, and shopping with a credit card.

I checked out of the hotel and moved into a small townhouse apartment in the Main Street area. Then I created a second identity and rented an old farmhouse outside the development area. I leased a luxury sedan for the townhouse and a pickup truck for the farmhouse. I had been trained in methods of manipulating the global business economy to support my activities but multiple identities were always tricky. I needed to move fast. They could already be on to me. Maybe they had someone following me all along. And what about the attractive woman who invited me to go home with her? Was she a test of my resolve? None of that mattered anymore. Even if they were watching me, I moved at least one step ahead of them, and that’s how I intended to keep it, without looking back.

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