Squirrels & mindfulness

Dear Hope Nation,

I’ve never been through a contemporary rehab for drugs or alcohol, so most of my knowledge comes second-hand from folks who have. (In the previous sentence, I used the word “modern” because I did complete a 60’s-holdover program in Landstuhl, Germany. Because it focused on a discredited form of “scream therapy” and had a barely non-zero success rate, it doesn’t have much relationship to today. On the other hand, the program was an early adopter of harm reduction, and I successfully transitioned from shooting heroin to drinking Johnnie Walker (and later boxed wine and later mouthwash.)  Given the focus on mindfulness and sitting, as reported by those who know, I can’t imagine I’d do well in most rehabs. I can sit fine, but my mind has a hard time being even half-full before I empty it and I don’t care for labels like Attention Deficit Disorder, but I know I get antsy in all situations and tend to make jokes to relieve the tension. Oddly, even the funniest jokes are looked down upon at funerals and, I imagine, rehabs, which I envision as camps for concentration.

One commonality among all my informants is a fondness for guided meditation, the gateway drug to Buddhism. All seem to have liked sitting quietly in a semi-darkened room while a staff person read them a script filled with images of beaches and breezes and other serenity attracters. These wide-awake but relaxing bedtime stories for adults seem to often end with a moral:  relax. Having never been to rehab, I may not be able to prove what these scripts are like, but I’m willing to try my hand at writing one.

Please don’t try this while driving. Or practicing mindfulness.

Picture yourself in a home. You’re surrounded by love. Even small furry animals adore you. This home seems designed for squirrels, a sanctuary for our fluffy-tailed friends. You are surrounded by all the squirrels you can imagine—red squirrels, flying ones, giant, ground, tree, black squirrels. All these rodents crawl all over you, looking for nuts, looking for popcorn, mostly looking for love. Some of these adorable creatures may have leptospirosis—leading to kidney failure—or tularemia or even rabies.

Wait . . . I’m sorry. I got carried away. Scratch the squirrels. I don’t mean like you’d scratch a dog. Squirrels hate any public displays of affection. Stop thinking about squirrels. Breathe . . . and forget about rabid squirrels.

In this home is everything you want, everything you need, everything your heart desires, even hot water and soap for washing out wounds if you’re bitten by a rabid squirrel, which you shouldn’t be, because I told you to stop thinking about them. Just push them out of your mind and don’t let them back. They can be stopped, although it’s a lot of hard work. Mentally, picture yourself calling a pest removal service. If you don’t know the number, it’s on a piece of paper on the fridge. I put it there. Yes, I’ve been to your imaginary house. In fact, I’m here right now, but you have no idea where. Perhaps I’m behind the sofa. Maybe I’m hidden in the shower. There’s a good chance I’m right behind you.

BOO!

(This ends the guided meditation.)

I’ll be happy to write a personalizedguided meditation suitable for weddings, funerals or seances. Just drop me a line.

And the above, boys and girls, is why I’ve never been allowed to go to rehab.

Still,

You matter. I matter. We matter. 

Keith

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