A Step Beyond Madness

Part I Introduction



A good friend once asked me, “Virgil, do you know what the “Fuck It Rule” is?”After I said no he explained, “It means that you behave, speak, and live the way you really want to. If other people don’t like it or don’t feel comfortable about it- then, “Fuck it!”” I understood what he meant: I had to learn to feel comfortable just being myself and had to stop trying to be all things to all people. Why am I bringing this up at the beginning of this story? Because I was initially hesitant to publish my journals and afraid of what friends, family, acquaintances and even strangers might think after reading about my thoughts, feelings and experiences. After feeling this way for awhile, I finally decided to really follow the “Fuck It Rule” and to go ahead with this project anyway. Here are many, but not all, of my most intimate thoughts and feelings from the past seven years. I would have to say that in some ways my entries are very focused and detailed and in others quite vague. They do not tell the “whole story” of my life these past seven years but they do bring out what others might call the “highlights”.

These, and subsequent stories and drawings, published under the title A Step Beyond Madness, are entries from my journals. I have left them relatively unedited with the exception of correcting misspelled words and originally horrendous grammatical errors(No one wants to embarrass their former English teachers!), changing the names of people I encountered to protect their privacy, deleting some stories at the request of those involved and replacing the names of establishments I have visited (for legal reasons). In the cases where some entries need more details in order for the reader to understand what I am referring to I have added notes and more information. They are either in the format of a footnote or an added explanation before or after the journal entry. Periodically, I’ve inserted quotes that I felt pertained to my entries and explanations. Also, some entries are out of chronological order or sometimes difficult to follow. I decided in some cases to leave them that way because I think that they help to convey my sense of time and patterns of analysis when I wrote them. Don’t be surprised if things I reference seem chronological and linear and then suddenly asymmetrical. That’s the way my brain works now.

A Step Beyond Madness

. My friend Dowell thought this was a perfect title for my journal entries because he felt that it would get people’s attention. I agreed. I also thought it described how I have often felt over these past few years. So why is that? It is because the stories in my journal are about how I “woke up”. I would say that stepping into a life where one is fully awake to all aspects of oneself-spiritually, emotionally, physically, and intellectually-can be quite frightening. Several years ago I began a journey that would take me to places I never anticipated. I previously had a traditional, middle-class, suburban life. I was raised a Roman Catholic and educated through the college level in the public/state education systems. As an adult I had been involved in the military and the corporate worlds. By the time I was in my early thirties I was living

what I thought was the “normal” American life-I had a well paying job in the investment business, owned a beautiful home with my girlfriend of several years and was a Captain in the Army Reserve. As far as I knew I was headed for a wonderful life and if I was lucky an early retirement. Then one day when I was thirty-three it all began to change. I began to have health problems.

Having health issues changed my whole life. They became so chronic that I ended up spending more time on myself than I could ever remember. As I pursued a path to heal myself I began to explore alternative and holistic healing and to pray much more. Then I began to reassess my whole life and to change it in order to feel “whole” again. As time passed I first thought that I had become a “new” person, but in fact what had really happened was that I had rediscovered bits and pieces of my true self. I feel that as this process intensified I went through what some might call a “Death & Rebirth”. To be honest this process at times was somewhat frightening, frustrating, illuminating and maddening. Frightening because my whole nicely planned life was seemingly out of control. The process was frustrating because I had no clue how to initially deal with the many changes that were coming about. It was illuminating because despite the rapid re-assimilation of my true self I not only survived but also flourished. As my life unfolded and drastically changed I began to see that if I stopped trying to control everything- I hesitantly admit to having been a control freak-everything would be just fine. And it was maddening because at times I just could not handle the pace of change, the intensity of my true self, the efficacy of my new intentions or the realization of just what and who I truly am. Today I sometimes still feel all these things inside of my body and in my soul. But I have come to terms with the fact that I am a beautiful, wonderful, blessed soul and that I have God-given gifts that can no longer be hidden by my insecurities, my alcoholism, and my tendency to rationalize things. And if I have to take a step beyond “madness” to completely reassess and change myself to be one with God then I am willing to go down a road that I believe is like that of a Siddha, an alchemist, a Daoist adept, a shaman, or perhaps just that of a plain middle-aged person who just wants to be himself.

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