Identifying as a hungry ghost the first time I attended a gathering of the Holy Ghost Tribe, brought an immediate change of perspective. It was like looking at a picture that makes no sense, then looking at a negative of that same picture and having everything come into sharp focus.
Everyone at the gathering was exactly like me. Our stories were all the same. In attempting to kill the pain in our lives, we’d only managed kill off the part of ourselves that had once been human. The pain had remained and we’d gone on as phantoms, driven across the Lower Plane in an endless cycle of addiction that we couldn’t get out of.
When the gathering concluded, a number of ghosts lined up to welcome me and congratulate me on finding the gathering, but one in particular made it a point to take me aside and explain to me what was happening. His name was Santos and he wore a hood, had a pointed beard, and carried a pack on his back. I assumed that maybe I’d died when I had the seizure, but Santos assured me that I’d been dead long before that. What had occurred during the seizure was that I’d actually woken up.
Where I was now was the Middle Plane, and all the methods I’d been using to deal with my pain would no longer work. Instead, they would only drive me back to a gruesome and final death on the Lower Plane, and from there things might even get worse. There was hope of returning to a full life, however, real hope, and I could find it by returning to the magic circle every morning and finding a guide to take me through the Twelve Awakenings.
Santos was heading to the Pier Plaza, so we walked there together, him with his walking stick, me pushing my Dad’s old bike, with the jammed front tire lifted off the ground. He told me he was originally from the East Coast, but had wandered out West years earlier and preferred the mountains and wide-open spaces. That led me to talk about some of my travels, and he was impressed. Outside of a few trips to Mexico, he’d never left the States.
My hope was to drop my bike off at Jax and have them adjust the brakes, but there was a long line of people out front when I got there, all wearing masks and being forced to social distance. Normally they could do the repair in a day or two, but due to the COVID pandemic it might be a few months before they could even schedule me in.
With so few options for leisure and recreation, it seemed that everyone had gone mad for bicycling. They didn’t even have any bikes for sale, as their inventory had all been snatched up, and even the manufacturers were having a hard time keeping up with the demand. No toilet paper, I could almost understand. No bikes, that was just crazy.
When I got back to my Mom’s backyard and the little camper, I immediately started feeling anxious and trapped again, and had to fight a strong urge to run over to the liquor store. Santos had told me to pray to the Holy Ghost for strength if that happened. I felt I needed to do more, so put on a pair of trunks and walked back to the beach. Counting to three, I charged into the cold ocean, then turned around and bodysurfed back to shore. Damn. That cleared my head right up. My brain felt like one big iceberg.
That evening I started going into withdrawal, and worried about what to do. I wondered if maybe I shouldn’t get a little liquor, just enough to avoid having another seizure, and then try to get into a proper detox facility. In the end, I decided to gut it out if I could, and then go ask The Holy Ghost Tribe their opinion in the morning.
After all, I now had access to some of the greatest addiction specialists on the planet. Why not take advantage of their expertise?