Yesterday I was cruising up to Georgia, when in my rear view mirror, I saw the all-too familiar flashing lights of a police car on my tail. I pulled over, and he gave me a speeding ticket.
I was calm as a cucumber though. Being sober, I had no fear of arrest for drunk driving, nor for hiding any drug paraphernalia in the car. Clearly, an improvement in my track record! But it got me thinking of my past episodes of driving drunk, which is a risky business, so I thought I would touch upon some of those gnarly highlights.
One time in high school, I was driving around with some buddies and went to buy a box of nitrous oxide canisters from a strip club called The Pink Pony. We also bought some beer from a gas station, and in returning home, I decided to flick off a cop in front of me as I made a quick turn onto a side road. I didn't think he would catch my gesture, but he did, and I had to pull over. He found the beer, but we managed to hide the nitrous oxide. He made us get rid of the beer and let us go with no tickets or charges. A lenient and merciful officer, he was.
Another time I was driving up to Tallahassee on the day of my 21st birthday. I was so stoked to be able to drink legally that I bought a "tall boy" for my trip. I ended up speeding and got pulled over. That officer gave me a ticket for speeding, but let me go on the drinking charge after I begged for mercy and gained sympathy due to it being my birthday.
Yet another time I had taken MDMA pills and drove to the beach with my brother and another friend. They went off and did their own thing, and I decided to strip nude and go swimming in the ocean. I got so lost in my artificial trance that I lost track of time. Eventually, I noticed there was a boat scanning the shoreline with a spotlight, then a helicopter shining down a spotlight from above, and finally, a four wheeler on the beach shined its light on me. With a megaphone, they called me in—and I had to walk out naked in front of a crowd that had gathered in search of me, due to my brother believing that I had been swept away in an undertow.
That was a rough night. And there were other rough nights to follow, including multiple DUIs, wrecked cars, nights in jail, probation, and other consequences I won't elaborate on. The point is...my luck ran out, and the spiral downward is not fun.
So, my recent "need for speed" is a reminder of the necessity to direct my desire for acceleration towards a worthy ideal, and to use the proper methods in pursuit of that ideal.
No matter how far we spiral downard, we can shift gears at any time and spiral in an upward direction. There is always an opportunity for transformation.
In retrospect, and being sober now, I can laugh at some of these follies, but driving drunk is not always a laughing matter, and I feel remarkably fortunate to be alive in this body, and to be free to practice a new way of living through yoga. Clearly, I have plenty of room for improvement, but such is the gradual nature of the path. There is no final attainment; there is only refinement and fine-tuning along the way.
Thank you for reading, and let's use our past as a tool for learning and enlightenment.