Making Do Without A Guide: A Personal Account of Guideless Initiation

From Modern Mythology:

Frequently, too, in this unlikely soil there flower rare blossoms of the psyche which we would never have thought to find in the flatlands of society…Among the so-called neurotics of our day there are a good many who in other ages would not have been neurotic — that is, divided against themselves. If they had lived in a period and in a milieu in which man was still linked by myth with the world of the ancestors, and thus with nature truly experienced and not merely seen from outside, they would have been spared this division with themselves. I am speaking of those who cannot tolerate the loss of myth and who can neither find a way to a merely exterior world, to the world as seen by science, nor rest satisfied with an intellectual juggled with words, which has nothing whatsoever to do with wisdom. These victims of the psychic dichotomy of our time are merely optional neurotics, their apparent morbidity drops away the moment the gulf between the ego and the unconscious is closed. … The spirit does not dwell in concepts, but in deeds and in facts. Words butter no parsnips; nevertheless, this futile procedure is repeated ad infinitum.

— C.G. Jung

Not only are initiations ongoing, but they are manifold. They represent a breaking point between one psychological center and another; and in the life of any creative individual there about bound to be many “little deaths.” When I was sixteen I had my first one of these crises. In every way, what I experienced falls in line with the “afflictions” that are often listed for would-be shamans. Somatoform, relapsing and remitting but essentially unending illnesses, visions, and waking dreams, some of them so intense and unexpected as to be completely overwhelming, and a sudden contact with a world that anyone in this culture would describe as schizophrenic. I began talking to entities that I encountered in the woods, or at physical crossroads, whispering in the wild. They inspired me to write, to paint. Over time I developed an increasing amount of skepticism about the solidity of their reality. But I never imagined that “it was nothing at all.” (A dream is real, the contents of a novel or album are real; a cat is real, but in another sense of the word. We should keep aware of the distinction, but not with the intent to imply a necessary hierarchy.)

I started seeing meaning everywhere — syncronicity of patterns, a sense of the cosmic interweaving of all things, even if each yarn was meaningless in itself.

All such hauntings and manifestations start almost like an uncontrollable daydream or fixation, but can quickly take on a life of their own if you indulge them, or their hold is strong. It’s simple to say I didn’t know better, but I was also just plain stupid curious. I assumed this “unstable reality” was some sort of interface between personal and collective unconscious, though it felt as if it was coming from the outside. This means a connection with a vital life-power, and also, a dangerous one.

By suburban American social standards, I had gone from a sensitive, artistic child, obviously a bit odd, a loner but “normal” enough nevertheless, to someone on the very brink of some kind of complete and total breakdown. No one knew what to do with me.

And so the medications began. This was in the mid 90s, when Prozac had just hit its stride. All it took was a couple questionnaires, (“Do you hear voices? Y/N”, “Are you a deranged lunatic? Y/N”, etc), and then a seemingly endless trial-and-error process with often clinically suspect substances. They threw one thing into me after the other ― Paxil, Prozac, Depakote, drugs with names that sound like alien races from Star Trek ― and each produced worse results. I couldn’t see straight, my penis stopped working, I couldn’t stand, I was puking every day, I had suicidal thoughts so strong that I had to curl into a ball for hours until they passed ― Paxil made me think I had a parasitic, symbiotic organism living in my throat that was controlling my thoughts. I eventually wound up hospitalized. (More than once.)

Yet the doctors continued to say, “Let’s just adjust your meds. Maybe the side effects will be more mild.” After a point I couldn’t tell what was me and what was a reaction to the chemicals they were haphazardly throwing into my body.

It became apparent that they were shooting in the dark more than I was. And part of it was because they weren’t treating the content of my psychological state, my visions and so on, as symptoms of my body, my mind, my spirit trying to tell me something meaningful. The modern clinical paradigm is so focused on the material biochemical perspective that it’s lost sight of the rest of the equation, which is one of emergent wholes rather than reducible, discrete atoms. We are all parts of vast, incomprehensibly complex systems. This New Yorker article is from 2013 and yet we’re no closer to an answer. If anything, the divide seems to be growing.

By 1960, the major classes of psychiatric drugs—among them, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety drugs, known as anxiolytics—had been discovered and were on their way to becoming a seventy-billion-dollar market. Having been discovered by accident, however, they lacked one important element: a theory that accounted for why they worked (or, in many cases, did not).
That didn’t stop drug makers and doctors from claiming that they knew. Drawing on another mostly serendipitous discovery of the fifties—that the brain did not conduct its business by sending sparks from neuron to neuron, as scientists previously thought, but rather by sending chemical messengers across synapses—they fashioned an explanation: mental illness was the result of imbalances among these neurotransmitters, which the drugs treated in the same way that insulin treats diabetes.

Each individual has their own mythology which needs to be incorporated into treatment that engages with the vastly different social and material contexts of our lives. All that will likely affect one person very different from another. Difference is the secret nook where our identity hides, not the glossy labels, but the messy reality. A time-consuming, work-intensive process for all involved, which requires a less standard methodology than strict science allows. This is exactly what’s appealing to me about the arts.

Whether or not you give any credence to the exterior existence of the entities I claimed were trying to communicate with me at the beginning of this article, they simply saw them as something no more clinically relevant than a fart in a patient complaining of gas. I knew I had to find something else, and after my hopes of finding answers within the culture around me, I started to look outside of it.

At the time, what I thought I needed was once a role ostensibly fulfilled by a shaman.

Shamanism is important not only for the place it holds in the history of mysticism. The shamans have played an essential role in the defense of the psychic integrity of the community. They are pre-eminently the antidemonic champions; they combat not only demons and disease, but also the black magicians. … In a general way, it can be said that shamanism defends life, health, fertility, the world of “light” against death, disease, sterility, disaster and the world of “darkness.” 2

Much of this is what most of us would call superstition. And due to a mixture of superstitious “magical thinking,” and cultural differences, the entirety of the shamanic role is essentially white-washed. Western myths about shamanism are in many senses a case of blatant misinterpretation, since so much is re-cast retroactively, that completely unrelated cultural practices get lumped under the same word. Whether Buryat or Yakut or Lakota, all had some practice we might lump under “shamanism,” but that’s where universal commonality ends, beyond those given by the common elements of all human experience.

Were they all “Shamans”? They probably wouldn’t have thought so. But gradually, in the course of time, the creative imagination does what it does, and books on “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Shamanism” appears on Amazon.

A lot more could be said on this, but it’s not relevant here — the truth is, we don’t need to be “Shamans.” A benefit given us by Modernity is the possibility of working without a Tradition. Any of the times I’ve referred to my work as an artist as “Shamanic,” I’m really just talking about the shelf it belongs on in the bookstore. We have to live somewhat beyond labels, at least to the point of only using them descriptively and never prescriptively.

Within our present cultural models it is easier to look at a shaman as a sort of priest, even if the role these disparate practices originated from were somewhere between doctor, psychiatrist, priest, performing artist, and honored outcast. I bring all of this up in regard to our present discussion because the intertwined issues of spiritual and psychological guidance have mostly been pushed to the wayside. It is the price of the death of God: there is something in our nature that is innately theistic, and we have a great deal of adaptation yet to do.

If there is such a thing, the spiritual guidance available to us comes in the form of pure indoctrination. Teenagers are “tuned out” mostly as a means to defend themselves. Their veil of indifference is there because society, especially in the form of self-defined authority figures, have failed to manage the transition from demand to guidance. Hormones might also be making them moody bitches, but the desire for real guidance that is in alignment with their passions is a genuine one.

This is one of the many places where our society fails itself on a daily basis.

To return to our semblance of a narrative, here is this uppity, sixteen year old kid that has the audacity to question the prescribed treatment. After all, what is adolescence for if not brazen rebellion?

This is the point my story gets interesting. While these effects were beginning to manifest for me, a small band of outsider kids such as myself had banded into a strange little group; full of adolescent posturing and all the rest, but there was something else going on there, too. Like the kids in Stranger Things, when we weren’t playing D&D, we would go out into the woods, and without having a clue what we were doing or why, we conducted rituals. In varying degrees and ways we all experienced our own versions of the “craziness” that I too was experiencing. We started talking, and asking questions about the nature of reality and society that probably every adolescent would, if curiosity wasn’t crushed in so many at a young age.

The satirized tale of all of this appears in my first novel, Join My Cult!, which New Falcon press, rather oddly, chose to publish with little or no revision or editorial. I find its existence somewhat embarrassing, and I don’t actually recommend anyone read it. But there must be something genuine in it, or so readers continue to tell me. In no way was it meant as gonzo historicism, instead it’s more like the sort of fictionalization Yukio Mishima employed in Confessions Of A Mask, though I wasn’t then familiar with his work,

Here is an excerpt, written by the protagonist at one stage of his life to himself at a later stage of his life,

Gabriel —

I’m in the mental hospital now, writing down the closing chapter of this story. While I do this, I look back upon the project you asked me to undertake, exploring what led me to you, but I feel that I’ve only provided a veneer. You asked for a concise record of my probation and instead I give you a jigsaw puzzle of my parts which, if put in the proper order, like the permutations of the name of God in Sefer Yetzirah, will make me whole again.

I was young at the time the story begins, still half asleep in the dream of my childhood. We were all too young, but who amongst us can predict precisely when the pot is finally going to boil over? There is a time, for some of us, when we are able to step outside the events that formed us, the environment that shaped us, and in that moment, we look back upon the sum of our experience and ask “where was I in that?” Where in the equation do you express yourself, not as a reaction but as a whole person? And, should we be unable to find ourselves in that equation, do we then become, as the sleeper awakening, indifferent to the events that composed the whole of that dream or memory? Do we turn a blind eye upon our past when we step forward?

I was satirizing this same dynamic more directly when I got to my second novel, Party At The World’s End. Two patients are hospitalized without their consent, one a transexual who insists that she’s Jesus, and an effeminate man who claims he’s Dionysus. Dionysus begins sewing madness to his benefit, leading to the following scene with his doctor,

The next patient slouched in the door frame. Orderlies flanked him, but despite their hulking menace, he seemed to strike a casual pose somewhere mid-way between Shaolin monk and Hunter S. Thompson in his prime. His head shaved, now growing in. A last act of defiance. The orderlies glanced at Doctor Fein in concern, but he waved them off.

“Won’t you come in?” Doctor Fein asked. He nodded and sat. “What is your name?”

“Same as yesterday. Dionysus. Well, Dionysus Katachtonios, but we don’t need to be so formal.”

“What day is today?” the Doctor asked next.

“Et tu, Brute?” Dionysus quipped in reply.

“Excuse me?”

The corners of his mouth darted downward. “It’s the Ides of March. That line is apocryphal, anyway. Can I ask you a question?”

“I don’t see why not.” On the surface Dionysus was often all wit and humor. Even self-deprecating. But something dark lurked under that surface. Anyone could sense it. A restless hunger. Fein knew he couldn’t drop his guard.

“What experience gives you the right to be my shaman?” Dionysus asked.

Doctor Fein blinked for several moments before replying. “I’m sorry? I’m a psychiatrist. And I’m here to help you, but only if you want it.”

“Alright. Try to follow along with me here. I’ve been driving myself nuts, trying to figure out why my stomach was in knots last night. Could be repressed childhood trauma, right? Could be the awful ‘food.’ The meds. It could be the displaced, angry spirit of an Ibo tribesman, who, for reasons passing understanding, feels the need to take out his vengeance on my bowels.” Dionysus was gesturing rapidly with his hands as he spoke, his enthusiasm building. Plunk, plunk. Doctor Fein, in his distraction, didn’t notice the ripples on the surface of his now hallucinogenic coffee.

“This is the problem with diagnosis. Attribution of cause. So many cognitive biases at work. Tell me, what can either of us know?”

“What are you feeling right now?” Doctor Fein asked, trying for rapport. But it had a forced, rictus quality.

“Well, disappointment, mostly. I had a lot of questions about my identity as a kid. Thought I was maybe an alien. I had an imaginary friend who lived in the woods; she was like a nightshade that lived on blood. You know how it is. Normal, kid stuff. And I met a man who helped me find myself — find my name. When something has a name, it is real. Without a name, without a real name, we are always uncertain. He was a shaman. So I ask you — ” Dionysus said, standing up.

Doctor Fein jumped.

“You seem tense today, Doctor. Now, if you don’t know what is giving me heartburn, then how the fuck are you supposed to be my shaman?”

Doctor Fein shook his head and made some quick notes in the file. Dionysus’ delusions are getting worse. The patient-doctor relationship is clearly breaking down in a fundamental way.

Dionysus stared at him. The Doctor stared back, his pupils’ twin black holes. Dionysus shrugged. “Scale. See? Scale is the key. Nothing in the limited span of a human life amounts to anything… if it wasn’t for the secret that eternity hides in the smallest spaces between each moment.”

A fly buzzed on the wall. Filth, Doctor Fein thought, swatting at it. Entropy and filth. He took another slurp of cold coffee.

“Think of raindrops falling from the sky. Splash! They hit a windshield, grip on, slide down slowly, mingling with dirt and grit. Things behave differently at different scales. Sub-atomic, atomic, molecular… this room here. The fluid and sedimentary dynamics of a riverbed. An ecosystem. A fucking solar system. Galaxies! Scale is a frame of reference, an idea, much like molecules themselves. The matter that composes this desk is mostly empty space. This is just basic physics. They didn’t teach this to you in school?”

The fly was rubbing its legs together, and it was cacophonous. Like steel wool on a rusted pan played through the speakers at an AC/DC concert. Its eyes were huge, a fractal rainbow of fruit flavors. Synesthesia, a new symptom. Time is passing, but how much?

“I can help you,” Dionysus said.

Without thinking, Dr. Fein blurted out, “How?”

“Find it, Doctor Fein. Find eternity,” Dionysus said, tapping on the desk.

The tapping snapped Doctor Fein back into time and Euclidean space. His hands bit down on themselves, curling into tight balls, as if his fingers desired escape from servitude to the almighty Hand. Fingernails parted flesh.

“NOW!” Dionysus screamed, slamming his fist on the table. Files flew into the air, containers full of pens and the Doctor’s remaining coffee toppled end-over-end, crashing to the floor.

Dionysus paused, his arms in the air, waiting for the great reveal. There was none. The Doctor stared dully at the droplets of coffee on the ground.

“I’m sorry, Doc. You missed it. Maybe next time around. Just pray the Buddhists are right about that. Sorry about the coffee. Oh, have you heard of the Zen stick of encouragement?”


“See the way you attain Satori, that’s what they call enlightenment, is by sitting. Just fucking sitting. But you need to be constantly jolted into the present, so that you can grasp it. Grasp eternity now. It is here, or it is nowhere. So the Roshi, the teacher, walks around and whacks students with a stick. The stick of encouragement.”

They locked gazes. A rivulet of sweat dripped down Doctor Fein’s nose.

“There is only one way to really show you.” Dionysus grabbed a pen and drove it into Doctor Fein’s forearm. It stuck out like a mini-erection, a Bic Priapus, spurting blood instead of semen. The Doctor screamed and flailed, ripping it free.

“Breathe, Doctor Fein. You are alive!”

“HELP! GET IN HERE!” Doctor Fein gasped.

“Oh, calm down. You’ll be fine. Now take this opportunity–”

I’m writing this now to give a slightly different perspective than I could from within the confines of the narratives of PATWE and JMC!, and look at the impulse that led me to write these books, many years on, as a symptom of the “initiatory crisis” that we all face in an increasingly atheistic society. I am essentially atheistic myself, but we’re horribly naive if we think that the existential dilemma that arises from this is no less dire than Nietzsche would have had us believe. Equally it’s about living in a society that’s been shaped by the Neoliberalism, which turns all of us into the value that can be externalized from us, the productivity that can be extracted. The “villain” of these stories, if there is one, is in the Leviathan, which is specifically the cultural inheritance of the Enlightenment.

That is what is culturally relevant; not the particular story, but the fact that each story is a reflection of something larger than ourselves, a patchwork of collective experience. Adolescence is always the crisis point, in any culture, when individuation has reached a point that a society must snatch up the unwary youth and consecrate them for a task. We have no such thing outside of what is accomplished by the secular institutions of industry and even religion, and the outsiders are the worst off for it. Many are still deeply in need of guidance, but it’s of a sort that is not so easily found. Some people just fit into their environment better than others. Psychiatry seems unwilling or unable to provide for all those who fall through the cracks, maybe because the valid endeavor of psychology has been, forgive the dramatization, gobbled up for the sake of the pharmacological-industrial complex, by the mythology of homogeneity that is a pre-requisite of industry.

That culture — which these books mythologize as a form of threat and antagonism — wants to treat humans as if we are interchangeable, complex machines that can be repaired in the same manner as a car or computer. So we have these people who may very well have a great deal to contribute to the world, but who really have no place within this system, no culturally recognized value, because that value is not easily monetized. Most outsiders are not shamans because, at the very least, they’ve never been officially trained as such, even most trained shamans would have no place here, and are not what’s needed, either.

We are left without a cultural place, like those in other countries who have been raped by this same system to an unimaginable degree. (I’ve been technically homeless before, but I’ve still never had to root through garbage to find my next meal). We are left to make the best of what tools are provided to us within our personal networks, and fall back on another prominent American myth: the myth of the individual.

This myth is cruel, in a world of increasing competition and decreasing love, the attrition, atomization, or utter destruction of communities of all kinds. This sense of searching for answers, for mentors and artistic communities to give us a sense of continuity, is a central theme of those two books, because it’s what I long yearned from, and it’s a yearning that seems connected to a much broader vacuum that has opened up in our culture. It’s not as if everyone with mental health problems is a would-be artist-shaman. But we all require a sense of meaning, and a sense of belonging, both of which artistic communities can provide.

Most outsiders of the type I’m talking about instead struggle through life, half-broken, the walking wounded, fighting off visions, impressions and habitual complexes that they can’t begin to understand, not clinically psychotic, but quickly approaching that point for lack of any real guidance or assistance that doesn’t come as part of a system aimed at nothing more than shutting them up and getting them out of their hair. If you don’t start out broken on this outsider path, you will end it that way if you don’t find a way of finding integration. What begins as a bad mental habit at age thirteen can become full-blown clinical depression by age thirty, and the more our mental pathways burn themselves through repetition, the more things become internalized and subconscious, they harder they are to yank out at the root. This might be a wonderful thing when it comes to training one’s self to play an instrument, but it is a curse when it is the legacy of a gifted but troubled outcast who can’t seem to quite “make it” in a world that, truth be told, wants nothing to do with what they have to offer because they simply don’t understand them.

I’ve gone a long way in describing the crux of this situation, the cultural challenge posed to outsiders, and yet I never explained how this process changed me.

The intuitive rituals I did with my friends began a psychological process for me. I was trying to send some kind of message to myself in the future, to find a teacher in myself, and to find wisdom from that, because I had even at that age mostly given up on finding it in a physical person. (There is a historic precedent to this as well ― many Indians who have been taught by gurus in various traditions have later revealed, without any apparent sense of irony, that their teachers were non-corporeal.)

Gabriel was the form this character took in many Fallen Cycle titles, JMC! and PATWE, and was the name my mom had in mind for me up until she changed it to “Jamie” last minute, after Jamie Wyeth. Gran Ayta serves that Hierophant role in Tales: From When I Had A Face, which I’m currently writing.

Here we start to see the dangers of being shaped by our teachers. We carry their trauma, and their bigotry, and so on, as well as their wisdom. I really got to explore the depths of that in this recent book. It’s been the most profound artistic experience. Tales is very dark.

There is another method I explored that some might consider rather dangerous. After having been pumped full of various drugs which did nothing more than exacerbate my problems, when I was released from the mental hospital, I decided that there was at that point nothing to really risk by taking hallucinogens. What, would they drive me crazy? Good luck with that! I had already fed blood to trees and tried to communicate with time-traveling entities with flashlights. I couldn’t imagine what LSD could do to me that my brain, and the awful meds I’d been given, hadn’t already done.

My first experience with LSD was eye-opening in a way that I don’t think many experience: I felt normal. Which isn’t to say I wasn’t seeing colors, and all the rest. But after that first hour of obligatory confusion when your neurotransmitters scramble and re-orient, I felt more clear-headed than I had ever before in my life. As an added bonus, the sunset was more beautiful than ever. But this was just an added benefit.

The actual lessons provided by these chemicals seems relatively simple, and fits rather nicely into the themes developed in the previous section on initiation, as well as here. It’s a lesson as simple as: let go. Hey look, the walls are bleeding. Let go. I’m fifty and my life is a wreck. Let go. That hawk-headed God has giant tits and it’s starting to unnerve me. Let go. If you hold on, it can become a demon, and if you let go, it becomes bliss. Death will come for us all. Let’s not be altogether unprepared. Will you be surprised when it is your turn, as if you were somehow exempt? Everything is already lost — let’s play.

After a certain point, once you’ve grasped this, you don’t need any drugs to “force” you to face the chaos of the Real, which is closer to the state of things, not rendered neat and orderly by the properly functioning pattern recognition of your neurology.

Which, believe me, isn’t something you simply learn and then manage to hold on to forever after. You’ll lose that ability to just let go and be present all the time and get caught up in life. But in the back of your mind now, you have that spot you can fall back to, that place where you learned you can fall back from anything and observe a sensation from the outside. And if that sounds a lot like a defense mechanism you read about in Psych 101, that’s because it may well be. Like all defense mechanisms, dissociation is only pathological when it is out of control. The point is being able to access such mechanisms ― and to come out of them ― consciously. It is no more important than the ability to be completely and utterly present, to focus, and to be ― for lack of a better term ― immanent as an agent of divinity manifest in time. (I can only imply the synthetic rather than dialectical relationship between these two.)

Reading this, I’m sure there are some that will misinterpret my point, and think that I’m suggesting, as many others have, that psychedelics are some kind of magic bullet for psychological difficulties. They are not. Do I suggest this method to others? Only if they see no other recourse, and if they have the kind of strange capacity to accept weirdness I have been told that I have. Don’t blame me if it cracks you wide open and leaves you crying like a baby for eight hours: because that just might be your first step on the path. Go with it. A little crying while the walls bleed isn’t going to kill you, and death is something you’re going to have to come to grips with.

If not now, then later.

In the counterculture since the 1960s of course, there has been a myth about the unequivocally positive effects of psychedelics and similar drugs. While many people extol the virtues of psychedelics in circles such as these, mostly in opposition to the parroted rhetoric of the mainstream culture, I think it’s simply meaningless to propose that a substance is inherently good or bad. The statement doesn’t even make sense. Psychotropic chemicals have a variety of effects, most of which are not really understood, on a nervous system and consciousness that also exists more in the shadows than the light. The question is whether exploring these uncharted waters is worth more than the risk. What could be a more American pursuit than blindly using a little of that Manifest Destiny machismo and plunging forward? That is a question that is, all political posturing aside, best left in the hands of each individual.

I was also lucky enough to encounter several teachers in later years. They were not shamans, which in this day and age, is probably a good thing ― mostpeople in the Western world that proclaim themselves “shamans” should be avoided at all costs. (That smelly long-hair at the trance festival all painted up in black-light paint that calls himself a “shaman” because he did ayahuasca once? Beware.)

The teachers I refer to were practitioners of internal Kung Fu (Bagua, YiQuan, and Xingyi), of Ericksonian hypnotherapy, Qabbalah, of NLP, of various forms of yoga, and from all of them I developed still other skills for working internally which, even if severely atrophied from a lack of regular practice in recent years, still remains a small part of who I am. But these are all supplementary practices for me. Art — visual, written, or otherwise — is my central spiritual practice. This is why I mention my books so often in this piece, because I quite simply can’t talk about this process without them. They are a part of me, possibly a substantial part, even if they are like shells that I’ve long since cast off. The process of growing new identities is the alchemy of art.

Even though we don’t have any tradition, and the world is full of very few true teachers, in a strange way, that is also a boon. We can find our own way, and find occasional guides through acts of serendipity when the time is right. Many self-proclaimed teachers will just lead you further astray. And if you look hard enough, and are willing to be a genuine human being and not hide behind a wall when you do happen to come face-to-face with another genuine human, you might be surprised. Be patient.

Gurus and teachers ultimately aren’t necessary. It is more the lack of the right road map when we are at a formative stage that can be problematic.

…The whole thing (ed: The Bardo process) is based on another way of looking at the psychological picture of ourselves in terms of a practical meditative situation. Nobody is going to save us, everything is left to the individual, the commitment to who we are. Gurus or spiritual friends might instigate that possibility, but fundamentally they have no function. — Tibetan Book of the Dead.

If you are especially lucky, you might even find others in the wilderness. Guides or not, true companionship amongst individuals is both rare and vital. I hope the Fallen Cycle and Modern Mythology might provide a little assistance with that task. As is always the case with all sources of power, it is also dangerous.

In the past, there were the shamans to guide us. Now, for both better and worse, all we have is each other.

The story does not end here, however. (Initiation never ends, not really.) Our subconscious can never be truly boxed away; and the ability to deal with shoring up that “world” can never fully prepare us for a confrontation with the strength of the subconscious. You can spend years on solid ground and then, just as suddenly, you can take a single small step and fall back into the water. Luckily, swimming is a skill one doesn’t need to entirely relearn, even if it’s been a long time. Keep paddling.

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