This post is a sequel to Dangers of Liberation (Part One). I strongly urge you to read it first, if you want to get the most out of this one.
I am not the only person who has had an experience like the one described in the first post of this series. After the unbelievable epiphany of August 8, 2006, I was later to be drawn toward a number of individuals who reported a very similar event. The problem, however, is that the information received in that moment was processed prematurely, in a mind that was unready for so radical a change. So I didn’t encounter the others till about five years later.
Liberation is a two-way street. It’s not just that someone finds themselves released from a form of inner bondage or imprisonment. When one is liberated, they are released into a new realm. The nature of that realm is of extreme significance. We are not only liberated from. We are liberated into.
This raises a couple questions. From what sort of inner prison were we released? Essentially, it was a conglomerate of rules, customs, social mores, status symbols, contracts, hierarchies, schedules, regimens, routines and protocols that ran contrary to our natural God-given design and character. For lack of a better word, I and others called this conglomerate the Mainstream. It was a stifling force, the Mainstream, whose role was to quench the spirit.
To what sort of freedom were we liberated? To freedom from the outmoded rules of a former day. From customs by which we could no longer abide. From social mores that bespoke hypocrisy, status symbols we no longer possessed, contracts severed, hierarchies violated, schedules disregarded, regimens rejected, routines discarded, and protocols exposed. Where could we find such freedom?
Only in homelessness. Everything else reflected a Mainstream that never served our true natures, and from which we were eventually severed.
It took five hard years for me to find the others who shared this unusual gift. For in the days that followed that moment of bliss, I struggled to process the strange twists and turns that came of outdoor living. I learned, for one thing, that a person doesn’t just walk into a shelter and expect to be served. There was an application process, and a long waiting line, before one could be granted a bed. So for three days I struggled to manage, with no money, no roof over my head, stuck and stranded in a strange town called Berkeley.
By the third day, my thinking was very much awry. I got in with the wrong crowd, and long story short, found myself running from would-be assailants. Though I believe I eluded the two young rapscallions, I was by that time completely spent. In desperation, I flagged down a police car and beseeched them for help. Discerning my mania, the officers had no problem escorting me to the place where they felt I belonged.
So on August 11, 2006, I sat in the John George Psychiatric Pavilion, having persuaded myself and others that my issue was merely one of untreated bipolar disorder. The entire memory of a momentary freedom now paled in the wake of a serious disease. In that downtrodden state, I permitted the clinicians to diagnose my liberation, and prescribe me the mood stabilizer Depakote. After a single night’s stay in the psych ward, my thinking was clear enough to steer me toward a $50 PayPal loan from a friend in Las Vegas, a one-way Greyhound ticket to a small town in the Valley, a shelter, a clinic, and a cheap residence hotel.
“I must have been out of my mind!” I told myself. And then, for five years, I followed the guidelines of a Mainstream I’d already rejected in my heart.
It was not until April 15, 2011, that I took the next plunge into the realm where the memory of a transcendent event had informed my true spirit. On that day, I took $40, left the last of a series of untenable living situations, hopped on an AmTrak, alighted upon the City of Berkeley once again, and proceeded to become Homeless by Choice.
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