Art Under The Influence

It was nearly 8 PM after a long day when I grabbed the already opened bottle. Quick sniff let me know this wine had life in it yet. I poured it into the glass, my creative refuge; it was now time to take a few sips.

Within minutes the honesty poured out of me, but not my own, my character’s. It came from a place deep inside, and this was mine. I felt the bitter grape taste on my lips and that welling up of emotion in my heart. I put my thin hand against my chest letting it all settle in. Confusion, hurt, pain, memories, love, hate, happiness, clarity, they all felt present. My head was a mess, but a creatively functional one. This raw feeling was fuel. I felt as if I was converting the demons, which lived somewhere in the back of my mind always following me wherever I went. They were with me at my job in the moments I felt unfulfilled or confused. They were with me on my commute home when I was alone in the car and no one answered their phone. They were there when I showered. They were there when I went out to a bar with friends trying to escape. The shadows never left but my ability to tap into them did, until I was not sober.

I didn’t fight it those years when I needed to escape. A few glasses, a slight edge, that’s all it took. I was never sipping cough medicine or drinking at work. It was a nighttime recreational activity. A way to access a place that my mind would not allow me to on my own. I wanted the high. I needed the permission. I had to become disarmed.

After months, I stopped. It was for stupid reasons like calories, but the curiosity never left me. Why did I need to be intoxicated to be free? I knew of so many artists that needed help to reach this place. Hell, many of the greats. Is it an artist cliche? Was there truth to it? I was caught in between two schools of thought, and the part of me that knew I needed this justified it.

We are creatures filled with inhibition. We’ll never walk around fully present, and there’s always a cloud hanging over us. When we sleep, when we drink, when we puff, the cloud is lifted and our monsters come out. You better be ready for them.

The other side of me, which was just as strong, said otherwise. This side was just getting into Eastern culture, yoga, meditation, and it told an entirely different story. Here, it was possible to live in the moment. Within this school of thought, it was realistic to believe that one day I could walk around free; no muck, no walls, just authentic existence. Both of these concepts were competing for space in my mind, the debate increased, especially in those moments before writing. The discourse on whether or not to open the bottle grew.

Eventually, the calmer voices and their promise of mental freedom won. I found myself putting the bottle away and trying to access my demons sober so I could still convert the hurt into something beautiful; a story. I felt myself begin to focus less on the conversion of anxiety and more on the end result. Someone is going through the same things I am, and they’ll read this story and take comfort. We’re not alone, we are one. But those thoughts were opposite of the ones I was trying to put on paper. Thoughts that we are definitely alone. We can only trust in ourselves. We are the only solid investment we have. Before long, the debates ended and the story was left untouched. I couldn’t finish because the end was unclear. Where we all one? Was transformation possible? Or, was it all a silly illusion? There’s just “what is” and the sooner we recognize that, the faster we will thrive. The faster we will fly.

I finished the story eventually. The ending, like life, falls somewhere in the middle. Most people don’t know our inner battles because we show the world one face. I’m sick of that.

Perhaps, we can trust no one and it’s true, we’re alone from the moment we’re born till the day it all ends. Perhaps, we are never alone; we’re all connected and can take part in a vast resource of one human consciousness. I’m not anyone’s maker or here to answer this. I don’t think anyone can. We’re here fundamentally to know this for ourselves. We’re meant to reach the end of our long or short lives here and find this out. I do believe in the end our entire existence and everything in it, from jobs to relationships to hair choices, will all have been the culmination to this: seeking our truth.

I finished the thought with a smirk. I was sober. It was like the moment at the end of Inception, when the spinning top doesn’t fall–– or does–– it’s up to us to decide what’s real.

WORDS BY: Cris Ramos

Cris Ramos, Miami native & word artist. Find her work @ The Emerald Journal.

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