I kept calling this book, Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Madness. After this last round of mania, I felt both defeated and exhausted. Two weeks of sheer terror will do that to a person. The idea that it could happen again, at any time, was a whole different type of fear.
I had a hard time shaking one last delusion. It wasn’t a scary delusion, but it was enough for me to freak out a little at coincidences I could ordinarily brush off.
ME: Why do I keep seeing armadillos everywhere?! They aren’t indigenous to Minnesota.
Husband: Maybe it’s their migration season. Look a humming bird.
ME: What do I do when everything that once brought me pleasure now brings me fear?
Husband: You use your tools and stop being a victim.
Alright. Okay. I’ll go for a run, at noon, in 90 degree weather. Too bad this Walgreens sunscreen smells bad because it’s getting in my eyes and making them BURN. Oh the irony. Who goes running in the hottest part of the day? It doesn’t matter if Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again is my power song, running still blows.
Perhaps my psychologist could help.
ME: I feel like the birds are machines sent by them to watch me.
P: Who is them?
ME: I like your earrings. I don’t know. I haven’t got that far yet.
P: Don’t think about it.
How do you not think about a thing? If I say ice cream, one sees a cone, or tastes it, or thinks the words.
Round two. This time I take a Clonazepam and get on my bike. I don’t apply sunscreen. I kick my helmet across the garage. I feel dangerous today. Why is my bike a hundred pounds? Why doesn’t it have any gears? C’mon On Let Me Ride is a much better power song. What’s stopping me from running though that cornfield at top speed?
Creepy children. And I’d hate to ruin someone’s crops.
Breaking up with a delusion is very much like leaving a lover. For the first few days one walks around the house, listless, remembering how their lover set a cup on the table, or had the habit of leaving their keys in the door. Then it’s the tears. They liked green. One can’t go outside because the grass is green. A few weeks later, one is mostly okay, but a song on the radio can make them pound the steering wheel in an, “Oh God, Why? Why?” motion. A year or a couple of months pass and grass is grass and music is music and the whole thing is over.
I had to let the delusion go and face the world. If something freaked me out, I had to tell myself, Not True. Not True. Not True. Not True. La La La. Not True.
I heard that Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was about a guy who went crazy and brought himself back to sanity. And it was about a road trip. I was still a little crazy, a little delusional, and apprehensive of self-help books, so this being a memoir seemed like it had the possibility to help. I fired up the Amazon and subjected Husband to my dark side.
ME: I hope this book isn’t about getting Zen and fixing a motorcycle.
ME: I hope it’s more than that.
Everyone around me told me to do activities that would take my mind off the delusion. In time I would forget about it. Through archery, gardening, taking practice ACT tests online, playing memory card games, doing word searches, laughing with my friends, running two miles on a long country road, I would move past it. In my own snotty way, I just wanted it gone, like a blister or a misquote bite. It wasn’t leaving fast enough. My ACT score would soon be good enough to get me into Arizona State, and I had dreams of Harvard. Or Princeton. I’d settle for Brown. So what if I needed to take SATs—go away delusion!
I found myself most intrigued by the Phaedrus character in the novel. Was this a book about logic? About philosophy? You had me at Socrates RMP.
For four hundred and eighteen pages I didn’t think of my delusion.
And what about the Zen component? I got a Groupon for twenty heat yoga sessions. And what happens when I feel like I can’t get through this because I get really weirded out by the armadillos?
I’ll just tell myself, bird by mechanical bird, girl, bird by mechanical bird.