The Beginning of the End

This is an excerpt from 'Road to Alaska', an autobiography by Eric Cram, cousin of the Bowditch Brothers, brotha from anotha motha (specifically our dear, sweet auntie), and fellow Misfit.

It’s time for you to go.

It was a pleasant East Coast spring day when my life was interrupted by this thought. I had come to a meeting looking for something real, yet this voice was set on intervening.  Equipped with its own will, it was as polite as a desert wind and persistent as the sun.  It exploded like a slow motion bomb. Though it detonated in an instant, the unyielding shock wave slowly knocked me clean out of my own thoughts.

But I fought. It didn’t matter if it was intuition, God, or aliens. Whether it was time to go or not, it would have been rude for me to get up in the middle of this meeting and walk out. I was 24 and new to the scene. Indirectly, I was there representing a fractured collective. If I left, it was the same as the people I represented leaving. That couldn’t happen. I responded to the voice as if it were not my own.

"I can’t leave right now. It’s just not right."

That was that.

But it endured. My rhythm had changed, and I felt transparent. I sat in the middle of the meeting pretending to be present, but I was long gone. I was sure my thoughts were drawing attention to me. I wrestled back and forth with leaving, but in the end I decided to stay.  In case the voice was coming from an outside source, I decided to inform it.

"I can't leave right in the middle of this and possibly disrupt what’s happening here. This message can’t be for me. Whoever sent this message must have forgotten to add the third dimension of quadrant to the address. I know it can get confusing here in DC."

It’s time for you to go, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave right now.

My mind went blank. I considered this one of the most powerful things I’d ever heard. Somehow, it was a perfect sphere of thought. Like a complex division problem that seemed chaotic and impossible, but then resolved without a remainder. Self-contained and piercing, it echoed through the halls of my mind as if it had the master key to the entire facility.  It generated its own momentum, as if building backward from a faint echo to the loud, clear voice from which it came. Spoken once, yet always speaking. I didn’t realize how untrue most everything else was until I heard this.  This, somehow, was True.

Which one doesn't appear to belong? you guessed it - Monkey in the middle. That's Eric...

Which one doesn't appear to belong? you guessed it - Monkey in the middle. That's Eric...

No longer participating, I sat in the meeting frozen by this simple phrase. Perfect and direct. Clear and confusing. My mind had no room for true contradictions, but this thought didn’t need my permission to exist. If a thought could have an age, this one was older than me. It was as if it had always been here, and I just happened to step into its path. Cool. Dramatic. The problem was that this viral thought was beginning to disassemble and devour its host.

It’s time for you to go, but it doesn’t mean you have to leave right now. Powerful, yet so damn catchy! Okay so whatever the reason is for me being here, it’s done, but I’ll sit quietly until this meeting is over. That’s a pretty heavy way to tell a brotha’ to just keep doing what he’s doing.

It felt like a man from the future was sent back in time to relay a message. “You will be sleeping in your bed tonight, and in that bed you will sleep for the next 12 nights. And on each of those days you will be sustained by food and water.”

"Thanks, but I know. And, wow, you’re from the future!"

So I sat in the meeting in my best suit, swimming in this alluring haze as if I had just been blasted with a dumb-gun.

After the meeting, I spent that afternoon stumbling around in a fog. This thought had interrupted my life, and it wasn’t quietly excusing itself. I avoided friends and housemates.  I shied away from populated places. As the fog cleared, I slowly began to realize that this wasn’t about the meeting. It was about DC. To me, that was even more strange. 

My reality had changed. This understanding was coloring everything I saw and experienced. DC was no longer my future. Even though I was still there, DC was beginning to feel like a memory. It was time to go. But, of course, it didn’t mean I had to leave right now.

Staying or leaving DC could be worked out. I could deal with completely changing my lifestyle and location. That wasn’t the problem. Something much bigger was simmering in the back of my mind. It was too deep to identify at the time, but I see it now: My understanding of reality is far too black and white to allow for the possibility of correctly being in a place where I’m not supposed to be. To call it an adjustment would be an understatement. This was quietly threatening to be a complete paradigm shift.

But I didn’t want a paradigm shift.

I’ve got a way of doing things, and it works for me. I know it could use a bit of tweaking, but I have a system in place. I’ve developed a way of thinking. Judgments and measurements. My understanding of the world. How to tell one thing from another. What’s right and what’s wrong. It’s how I know how to live my life. And like other systems of order, one of its pillars is logical consistency. You can’t have rules that contradict your other rules. That kind of system can’t stand. There’s no room for this kind of shit. It’s time to go, but that doesn’t mean I have to leave?!  No! It’s either/or. I need these two things to not be friends!

Paradigm shifts, especially internal ones, are too destructive and too scary. Too out of control, uncertain, and unpredictable. They screw up everything. It wouldn’t just change what I think about, but how I think. How I see. This is my foundation. I would have to change my very approach to life. Start over from the beginning. Level everything.  Deconstruction or Demolition. If I’m lucky, only Dismantling. It’s so fundamentally different from My Way. This could ruin me. Have I used the word Devastating yet? I hope this isn't indicative of what things will be like in Alaska.

This is the second of five books in an autobiographical narrative series documenting the journey of Eric Cram. Below is a synopsis of 'Road to Alaska'. For inquiries, email

'Throwing away a promotion working for a D.C. senator to hit Alaska in a truck I don't have…'

Picking up where 'Breaking the Human Plane' left off (book one of the series), something untethered hid beneath the surface of this journey.  If you're feeling crowded by this padded playground world, or have an itch that you haven't been able to locate, Road to Alaska might be the back-scratcher for you.  On the other hand, it might just give you the itch.