About five years ago I was living alone in an apartment in downtown Minneapolis. I loved this place…it had such great energy and light. I had a cat.
Back then, when I was having a tough day I would grab a bottle (or two) of wine, a pack of smokes and a frozen pizza. I’d head home and watch a movie or stream countless episodes of Lost.
This was my version of comfort. No one would knock on my door. Dinner could be ready whenever I decided it was time. I could drink an entire bottle and break into the next one if I wanted. The pizza would last me for at least a day. I could light one cigarette with another; no one could judge me in my space.
Lately, for whatever reason, I have been looking back at these nights with a bit of longing. When I break it down, it isn’t so much that I want any of those things super badly. I never did like the feeling of being drunk, and smoking cigarrettes doesn’t appeal to me either. Although to be honest, I would eat a frozen pizza if I could get away with it.
So what is it I want? I think it’s the feeling: the isolated cocoon I created for myself that made it easy to do what I wanted without worrying about anything. What I’m craving is numbness.
Since the age of 27 I promised myself that I would become the best person I could possibly be. Because of that promise I’ve done all sorts of awesome things, like moving across a continent with only a dream, running a 10k in Germany and drinking non-alcoholic beverages in France.
I really have worked my ass off to become a more enlightened human being. And that’s all well and good, until it’s not. With this sort of growth, you suddenly understand the meaning of ignorance is bliss.
It’s sort of like when a friend of ours sent us a disturbing video we didn’t see coming. We can’t un-see it. When you evolve into a more conscious person, it’s pretty tough to un-be that.
There is virtually nothing to complain about in my life. I am blessed in so many amazing ways. But that doesn’t mean that sometimes this world doesn’t come off as pretty raw. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to hide under the blankets until the unicorns come back.
The problem I have now is that I have all but eliminated (in my mind) any way to achieve that numbness, that cocoon of safety. I tell myself that cookies and running 5k will do it, but I know that it will never do the trick like a bottle of wine did. But I also know that the bottle of wine comes with icky side effects whereas the cookies can only do so much damage, especially when combined with a run.
Building a life on integrity and harmony is not as difficult as I thought it would be. It’s actually been really kinda fun and exciting: What could possibly happen next? I often wonder.
What has been hard for me are those moments when I pine for the days of clubbing until 2 a.m. with people I barely knew. Why on earth would I miss these self-destructive patterns?
And that’s just it. They are patterns, habits I have built my entire life. No, I wasn’t partying when I was eight-years-old, but I was seeking out attention from men even then. And while I didn’t start smoking until I was 16, I pretended I did when the air got cold enough for me to see my breath. I think the first time I did that was around 6.
So the question then becomes: Do I really want what I’ve been craving? If I found that feeling, or more accurately that unfeeling, would I really be happy? How could I if I’m feeling nothing? If I’m numb?
These new patterns are pushing me toward something better, greater: a place of freedom I have never experienced before. I know because I catch glimpses of it once in a while.
Suddenly a lamp post will be the most beautiful thing in the world. I’ll be riding my bike in town and be hit by a wave of gratitude so huge my eyes well with tears. These peaks into that new space? These feel like bliss. Like the way Vivaldi’s Summer Third Movement would taste if you made ice cream out of it.
Would I know that lamp post so intimately if I was cocooned in my Minneapolis brownstone, exhaling little wafts of death? Could I even begin to surf the invisible waves in life with a bottle of wine in my hand? The answer (duh) is no.
So I’m starting to think that the phrase needs to be updated. Consciousness is bliss? Evolution is bliss? Nah, not quite. Oh wait, I got it! This. This is bliss.