Tuesday, March 25, 2008

On October 11, 1988, I Went Headfirst Into a Cement Curb.

"Universe works.

We are a part of it. We are not intruders.

We concentrate it's themes most exquisitely around us when we valve its energies for our immediate service: controlling the flow of electrons, frequencies, fluids, foods, heat; warding off winds, the fires and the rats. We can either call this building a house or caring for our bodies."

For me, it seems fitting that as the experiment known as Swami O'Bryan's comes into play, I write a bit about the crossroads I seemed to be at where yoga began for me.

A fractured skull can be similarly compared to a seismic jolt. A shifting of terrestrial plates. It happens quickly. The only difference is that this physical form will either live or die. Either way, there is change.

I finished my studies at UCLA in December of 1987. The first six months of 1988, I did production work and became quickly disillusioned. For me the jury is still out as to whether I quit out of pride, having a high opinion of myself or a strong intuition for self-preservation and dignity. At the time, I just did not like being in my position in the production hierarchy, taking orders or feeling lesser than who I thought myself to be.

So I made a plan. I would go back to the town where I was raised and do summer theatre, acting for fun. Once the run of the musical was through. I would travel to Europe for three weeks and then make my way back to Los Angeles.

That was the summer of 1988, I got the role I wanted, Benny Southstreet in "Guys and Dolls," by auditioning with the song, "Pass the Football" from "Wonderful Town." During the run, I realized that I had become a professional actor as I knew what energy and talent was required to make a show work. The trip to Europe was harrowing as much of the time, I was traveling solo with no knowledge of the languages of the countries in which I was traveling. By October, I was back in Los Angeles, living with a friend and his father in a me on the Hollywood Hills above Sunset Plaza West.

I didn't know what I was going to do next. I just knew that I did not want to go back to the farm on which I was raised.

On October 11, riding a racing bike in San Pedro and training for a biathlon, a friend of mine and turned west from Western Ave onto 27th Street heading towards the cliffs overlooking the Pacific. The avenue had a downward grade and as I rode behind my friend I could feel how I was picking up speed. I knew at the beginning of the ride how I wasn't "there"..........how I felt far, far away as we pedaled away from his parents home.

I find myself sitting on the curb, a towel draped over my head. I feel warm. there is a funny taste in my mouth. I catch myself pulling off the towel. I am hot. I don't hear anything. The towel is replaced. I pull it off again. I feel like I have a fever. The towel is suffocating and hot. I feel dirty and sweaty. The towel is placed on my head a third time. I then hear the words, "Leave the towel on. You've fallen and you're really fucked up."

At that moment, the paramedics arrive. To me at that moment, they are angels.My vitals are taken. Neck braced. Strapped onto support board and lifted into the paramedic vehicle. On the way to San Pedro Peninsula, I am asked basic cognitive questions. Some I cannot answer. It is here, I realize that whatever has happened is serious. I think I go to sleep, waking as we arrive at emergency. I find out later that I've had another grand mal seizure, the first one happening as I was lying on the side of the road.

I saw myself lying on the side of the rode six months before. It was as I was traveling north on Highland, just after the Franklin Ave. intersection. I was heading back to the production offices in Burbank and there he was. Bike on its side, male rider separate from the bike, unmoving......still life on asphalt.

My hospital experience can wait for another time. For reasons of brevity, here is what I realized.........

I had some inclination that something like this was going to happen and I prepared myself so that I would survive it.

That if my family was around I was not going to get well.

That I need to figure out why this happened.

What it was like to see someone who was "bright" and "full" and how important this was to healing.

That when it comes to the brain, doctors know how to cut and paste, but healing it is uncharted territory.

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