06/09/2011

Why we are all nothing more than ants (and no less than Gods)

I don’t know how old I was exactly (somewhere between 8 and 11) when my Father took me for a walk one evening. The magic of being up late in the balmy summer twilight, and that oh-so-precious time with my Dad meant that something special had to happen.

And it did.

As we walked along the street we chatted, and it was just another day. Just another moment sliding by.

Then we stopped and my Father looked up at the sky, my hand in his. I looked up too and he began to tell me, with a ‘time is not sliding by now’ tone of voice, just how big the universe is.

He explained how many planets there are in our Solar system, and how many Galaxies there are, and the distance from here to the moon, and so on. I don’t remember the details, but I do remember that as he outlined the vastness of the universe, I began to realize just how tiny and insignificant I am. By the time he finished, I felt like an ant.

But I also felt like God...

Time had stopped sliding. In fact, it had just stopped. It had expanded in every direction, and stopped. It was infinite. The Universe (space) and that moment (time) had become one. Time and space stretched away from me in every direction, and I just stood there, feeling like God.

I can’t describe that moment any better. It was a revelation. That’s all. It might have been the best thing my Father ever did for me.

*** 

20 years later I was an addict. Yeah, some of you don’t know this, but I spent 2 years of my life in a room in Swiss Cottage, London, eating nothing but baked beans and take-away Balti.   
Those 2 years almost killed me...
I’m not kidding. I’m not exaggerating. I nearly destroyed myself there. I did lose friends, money, time, and health. But I’m still here. I didn’t lose my life.

You’re probably wondering what I was addicted to...
It’s embarrassing. If you’re a recovering heroin addict, or a recovering alcoholic, or a recovering pretty-much-anything-else-you-can-think-of, at least there’s a certain enigma to it.

I’m a recovering video game addict. Not so 'cool' huh?

Oh well, at least I’m alive.

Anyway, I lived on beans and balti for a while, and spent 20 hours a day trying to save the world from Nazi aggression.

The game I played was a WW2 strategy game called Sudden Strike 2. An amazing game, very complex, requiring a lot of skill and team-play. I got so good at it that the team of players I got together won the European championships… which were really the world championships, because they were the only championships that existed. So players from all over the world took part.

When I first started playing, I met a German guy called Warhead (he wasn’t really called Warhead, that was just his nickname). He destroyed me in a 1v1 game, and taught me a good lesson. He also told me that all the German players were the best, but really arrogant, and how he’d like to get a great team together to beat the arrogant Germans at the championships the next year. I told him to teach me all he knew, and that together we’d do it.

And that’s what happened. We won the next year. But it almost cost me my life.


I’ve got lots more to write about this: about addiction, and healing, and how being an addict is like living inside a prison inside yourself, and how healing is just all about breaking free of that prison.

I want to say that every one of you reading this is an addict too, but most of you don’t even know it. The ones you hear about – like me, yes – who are addict addicts, are just the ones who are most sensitive and open. They don’t know how to adapt to a world that seems too big for them, and they don’t know how to handle the pain of it all, and they need something to ease that pain; to make them feel safe. So they become addicted, in a way that is very obvious and painful to those around them.

When I was 24 I had a beautiful girlfriend called Adele. She was a dancer. She found me one evening in the Back Bar – a gay bar I was working in by mistake (long story for another time) – and insisted that we go home together. It was a beautiful, bitter-sweet relationship that taught me a lot.

Adele’s Father was an alcoholic. He was really seriously in trouble when I met him. He kept trying to kill himself. Once I spent Christmas with Adele and her family and her Dad threw himself off a bridge. (Into a river. In Scotland. In December). He simply couldn’t handle any more moments sliding by. He survived, and we spent a lot of time that Christmas in the hospital. I talked to him a lot. He was a sweet, funny guy, who just didn’t understand the hypocrisy and corruption and deceit of this world. He didn’t know how to play the game of life, so he gave up and played the game of alcoholism instead.

It was a very sad Christmas.

The biggest lesson I learnt from meeting Adele’s Dad was: you can’t make people change. And it’s one of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learnt.

Sometimes people contact me to ask if I can help their loved ones. And I often have to say:

“No”.

I don’t help people who aren’t ready to help themselves. It’s a waste of my time and theirs. You can’t make people change.

It’s a bit of a cliché, but very true about addiction: you usually have to hit rock bottom before you’re ready to start climbing back up.

When I became an addict, it was because I’d completely forgotten about the part of me that wasn’t ant. I felt I was 100% ant. Feeling so small and insignificant; powerless to change anything about each moment that simply slides on by, regardless. Lost in time and space, with no purpose other than pain.

Now, after healing all the hurt that caused me to forget my God-ness, my Beingness, I am whole again. Now I feel half-ant, half-god again. And it’s so good to be alive. It’s good to be a vital part of a vast universe, and to know that the sheer magic and wonder of life is the means and end of itself.

It’s Good.


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11 comments:

Kara-Leah said...

I love the way you write. The leap from childhood to addiction to Adele & back, all held together with a thread of truth.

Off to read more.

KL

Anonymous said...

I share your feeling of an ant in the Universe - and Godlike might - that's how I came to read your blog. I just couldn't draw my attention off this marvelous story. Tnank you.

Spiritual Workshops said...

Awesome post, thanks for sharing. I'll have to tell some of my friends to take a look.

Ben Ralston said...

Thank you all. I'm glad someone is reading :)

Anonymous said...

I have a friend that is in a crisis - a crisis that was avoidable at many turns. I tried so hard, gave her all sorts of excellent (and easy to apply) advice but her emotions kept dragging her backwards. Even now, she won't acknowledge that it was her choices that helped create the crisis, that the law of probability showed under no certain terms this is how it would turn out and I'm not sure my friend will make it through the year without some other sort of intervention, the kind I'm not familiar with. And I can say she did this wrong or that wrong but I've done things wrong too - and I've also felt the pang of wanting to throw myself off a bridge or into traffic but I haven't and time continues to slide on by... Winter feels so long sometimes and really, it hasn't even begun.

Claudia Corson said...

I'm always reading your blogs, in fact, you don't post enough of them. Congratulations, poppa!

Monique said...

Ben, your blogs are like medicine to me and come at the right time. I was also an ant for a long time and spent a lot of time at home stoned, up in smoke. Now i am growing, developing and alive! Thanks for being so confronting and clear, it's so simple. Also your blog about healing and freeze, fight of flight has opened my eyes...now i can pass it on in my work as a masseuse, an ayurvedic masseuse en that's no lie, also i am giving massages to cancerpatients and consider myself a healer more and more.
With love and gratefullness, Monique from Holland

Ben Ralston said...

Anonymous - your essence is pure, perfect, divine consciousness. That is what you are. Beautiful, magnificent, unique! Everything else is just an idea and an illusion. You must focus on yourself (healing yourself is the most selfless act you can do), and forget about trying to help your friend. You *cannot* help someone that does not want to be helped. You cannot make someone change.

Claudia - Thank you! I will be writing more soon I hope... I have an assistant now :)

Monique - that's wonderful. The more you heal yourself the more you can heal others. The higher our own consciousness is, the greater our capacity to help others, and the more people we can reach. Keep up the good work, and thank you for your beautiful words here.

With love to you all!
Ben

Anonymous said...

bro, you know you can't be addicted to video games. You sound ignorant saying that because there are people in this world who really are struggling with addiction.

Ben Ralston said...

Anonymous, google 'video game addiction' and see what you find.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the simplicity and realism in your account of addiction. It's very real.

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