number 33. jesus’s age when he languished on the cross. the age i was when i slipped over the edge. i was well aware of the jesus connection. in fact, i had a crucifixion of my own. but that is for another monday.
the escalation to psychosis took some days, even some weeks. the first clear spark was on the thursday before. friday the ropes were cut and the balloon started to rise, but only on monday did i reach the part of the atmosphere where the air gets thin. it was becoming impossible not to notice i was cracking up, at least from the outside looking in.
from the inside the bliss just kept coming in one orgasmic wave after another, bringing surges of emotion and clarity and insight and understanding, some of it tilted, much of it rooted in subtlety and truth.
the true madness lasted three days: monday, tuesday, wednesday. these three days lasted weeks. life and death came within minutes of each other. mounting olympus for my first real view of the world. but as the song describes, at a certain altitude, the truths you uncover are often polluted by simplification, making connections between the unconnected to celebrate the hidden webs behind the visible.
monday i started off high, having the first real feelings of transcendence. that night i openly wept in the lobby of a movie theater, after i thought i had lost my wife forever. tuesday had the humming tunnel vision of a minor acid trip, but this was reality.
instead of meeting my wife, i wandered around the berkeley campus, reliving my college years, familiar professors stepping out on cue. my wife nearly lost her mind with worry. and i thought i’d found mine.
when i got home, my wife took me by the hand and drove me to the kaiser psychiatric wing. i thought she was going mad. to set her straight i let her in on a secret: we were the next level of evolution and that greater minds from outer space were headed toward earth for a spiritual communion. this last piece was influenced by a “roswell” billboard on telegraph avenue, advertising the tv show that my friend larry and I had met with weeks earlier on the fox lot, pitching our idea for a sitcom, “room for rent.”
small world indeed. small universe.
that night, after some failed experiments with boundaries, i was strapped to a table “so i wouldn’t hurt myself,” arms out. the age of Christ. someone had a sense of humor.
after being pumped full of reality, i fell asleep many hours later, on the verge of finally letting go of my self, dying, in order to truly live.
wednesday morning i was crushed. from the highest high, to the lowest low. like a penny thrown from the empire state building, ending up underground, from galileo to the nut house. and when the doctor asked me if i still believed in magic, i lied and said no.
three days is not a lot of time. but it can be a full life, with a death thrown into the bargain. when seen from afar, details fall away, and all that’s left is a sad arc of profundity and shame. joy and delusion. everything and nothing. with the scales tilting toward nothing.