Friday, June 21, 2013

From Desolation to Deliverance: New Autobiographical Article in ONE: The Magazine


Today's post is an excerpt from a new, long biographical article that is currently appearing in ONE: The Magazine.  You've heard me speak of this online publication before.  It's owned and edited by Shanti Einolander, who's been a leader in this community for quite a long time.  (She's Gangaji's book editor and frequent travel companion, and the actual writer behind Kenny Johnson's The Last Hustle from Non-Duality Press.)  

Shanti wanted me to write an original article about my whole spiritual journey, from when I first became a seeker, and the early days of that journey, on through the days of homelessness and despair as a park bum in Portland, Oregon and on up to the present.  She asked me to put special emphasis on my initial awakening and that journey, which still continues. Of course I couldn't get everything into a 4,000 word article, but the grittiest stuff I've ever put online about those days is in there, as well as the most recent information on that continued clearing.


When alcoholism has stolen your livelihood, your relationships, and your dignity, when you feel that you don’t want to live but neither can you clearly die, nothing short of divine intervention can deliver you from such desolation. That grace arrived for Fred Davis during a stint at a psychiatric hospital in 1982, when a voice inside his head said, simply, “You should study zen.” It was the beginning of an up and down, meandering spiritual path that would one day culminate in a spiritual awakening so sudden and powerful, he’d move “from utter misery to bliss in the blink of an eye.”

It was early autumn of 1998 when I found myself living in Mount Tabor City Park in Portland, Oregon.  Yes, I was living there, in a park, in the bushes, scared and hungry, with blisters on my feet the size of the palm of your hand.  When you’re homeless, the police don’t even want to arrest you.  You’re not worth the trouble.  So they just nudge you along, keeping you moving, moving, always moving.  Not on my beat, buddy.

I had sold my sleeping bag to buy a couple of bottles, and then I’d caught some kind of lung infection.  My voice sounded like rocks grinding against each other.  I wished I would die, but I noticed I didn’t.  That’s the funny thing about alcoholism; it kills you if and when it wants to, not when you want it to.  As the booze ran out and I began to have to face reality, I couldn’t help but look back to a decade before.

In 1988 I had been living in the suburbs of Columbia, South Carolina.  I owned an enormously successful comic, gaming, and science fiction shop.  I had a great wife, a nice house, four nice cars, and according to my lawyer and accountant, I had a fine future ahead of me.  All I had to do was not screw it up.  That’s a difficult thing for a practicing alcoholic to avoid.  I had not the first clue on how to handle success, because it wasn’t anything I was particularly familiar with.  I was a crazy man with money.

But let’s drop back a little further.  When I used to tell my story in public I got to where I told it backwards, just to make sure I kept both me and the audience awake.  I guess I’m doing that here as well.

In 1982 I woke up—that’s always what it felt like at the end of a long run of drunkenness and active insanity—to find myself getting bed and board in the G. Werber Bryan Psychiatric Hospital in Columbia. This was a place where the doors were locked, I wasn’t issued a key, and I wasn’t allowed to play with anything sharp.  I did get all the crayons I wanted.

This was my second visit to the same institution.  I’d been there a year before and hadn’t learned a damn thing.  I was not big on learning; I was big on repeating.  I know now that it was all part of a vast pattern, but at that time I’m afraid I was unable to bring the “light of consciousness” to bear on my wanton lifestyle.  This second time around, however, a voice went off in my head as I sat in the dayroom drawing with my crayons.  From out of nowhere and clear as a bell it said, “You should study Zen.”

Continue reading here: ONE: The Magazine

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