Gung ho. While I was still living in Tallahassee in 1978-79 I became something of a sensation in Boulder. I was working with TH remotely via long distance plus one memorable letter in his tiny spidery handwriting. I was gung ho about him and all things Boulder. As for him, he was grooming me to be his pet writer.
Running. TH got me running, his obsession that some would say led to his downfall. I ran after work every day, starting with ¼ mile and building my mileage the right way. The after-work timing was my choice. It was summer, and late afternoon was the hottest part of a hot, muggy Florida day. I loved running in the heat; it was my version of a sauna. I ran joyfully into that 90/90 (temp/humidity) air, sweat just streaming off me. Southern born and bred, I reveled in the sweaty heat. I also played outdoor three wall racquetball in the heat of summer for the sauna effect.
Dance. TH saw that I was poised to take off and do great things. I was just lacking some little thing, some crucial missing piece. He made me dance that piece into being, my first dance creation. My assignment was to dance every day without music. I danced outside, in the back yard of my apartment building on East Park Avenue. My apartment couldn't contain me; the dancing was liberating way too much energy to stay inside. I created a whole world in that dancing, a world richly furnished by the great mythologies I'd studied in school, with an emphasis on Norse and Native American myths, Hopi in particular. Every afternoon I delved deeper into the Four Directions of a world anchored by Yggdrasil.
Essence connection. TH had started spinning a myth of his own. He conjured up an essence connection between me and Claudia, a practitioner who was a real babe. It was all a bunch of hooey, as my mom would say, a deliberate fabrication, some extra incentive to get me out there so he could lay his hands on my writing skills.
Thanks friend! I moved out to Boulder in the summer of my 27th year. A girl I liked (who had friendzoned me; I used to get that a lot) noticed how well my life was lining up with John Denver's song. She brought over her guitar and sang it for me: I was headin' out to get Rocky Mountain high.
Her singing didn't do much for me, but it sure softened her up. Friendzone to endzone; it turned into a real sweet night.
Glory. TH talked me up as the golden boy, a model of spiritual progress for all to admire. What could possibly go wrong? I entered in a blaze of glory. TH had me arrive early and hide in his house so I could meet the practitioners with due pomp & circumstance. I walked into the room as he shouted I present to you Scott Cassady! and everyone clapped and cheered. There might've been alcohol.
Bejurin. He put me in a household on Pine Street. I lived a few blocks from Mork & Mindy's house. My housemates were people in his inner circle, the practitioner group. Some of the people I met in those early days had new names, Harmonizing names they'd made up for themselves to symbolize their new life in what was already beginning to transmogrify into a cult. One of them was Doña; her name had been Donna before. I decided to do 'em one better by going directly to the source: I asked TH to give me a new name. He'd evidently refused to do this before, but seemed willing to make an exception in my case. He pondered it for a while, and as far as I know made it up of whole cloth. I got a call from one of my housemates, who was acting as his "secretary," relaying the word from him that it was taking shape, and had three syllables. I got another call a few days later, this time from the man himself, but I couldn't understand what he was shouting in his Philly accent. My housemate had to take the phone from him and she said "Hello Bejurin" very clearly and memorably. I can still hear her voice. Bejurin was my name from 1979 till 2004, when I began preparing to shed my allegiance to that era of my past.
Name change. I've never been one to do things by halves, so I went to the courthouse and changed my name legally from Jeffrey Scott Cassady to Bejurin Cassady, no middle name. My first of three legal name changes. Three because it took me two tries to get rid of Bejurin. In the early 2000s I added John as a middle name, to honor both my father John Tom and my brother Timothy John, who had recently died. It wasn't until 2004 that I developed the gumption to come up with my own name. In those days I was charmed by the pointless practice of genealogy, so I picked a name from the family tree. I still really like Zachariah. Why not just change it back to Jeffrey Scott? Ah, here's my secret, and the real reason I asked TH for a new name: I never liked my birth names, neither Jeffrey nor Scott. I figured I'd let TH do the heavy lifting and just go with whatever he came up with.
Camping trip. With that for an opening there was nowhere to go but down. But I kept it together just long enough to go on an intense two-week camping trip, the practitioner trip. Joke of the day: even when we slept it was in tents. We camped beside a monumental medial moraine, a boulder field of house-size boulders. Days we hiked and climbed on the ridges or followed the creek into the Weminuche. Nights we circled the fire. No shortage of Ten High, TH's namesake bottom-shelf bourbon. Two weeks of campfire circles and it never ran out. Talk about your loaves and fishes.
Armpulls. On the full moon night that graced us midway through the trip, we had an especially energetic campfire circle. As the circle was breaking up, and we were about to head for some well-earned rest and to sleep off the booze, TH got a gleam in his eye and started doing armpulls: muscle testing applied to spiritual matters, one of his methods of getting guidance.
Mushrooms. A handful of us were called back and given doses of psychotropic substances, Psilocybe cubensis in my case. That night I was set free of fear: of falling, of the dark, of death. I ran full tilt across our backyard boulderfield in my hiking boots in the moonlight. I zigzagged across it, flinging myself into the air at the edge of one vast boulder not knowing where I'd land, always landing catlike on the next boulder. The brilliant moonlight created inky black shadows I thrust myself into head-first, ass-first, any way I wanted-first; I was free of fear. In the dawn light I sat on the highest boulder and watched the moon set as the sun rose, sweetly aligned with the ends of our canyon. It was the best night of my young life.
The trademark of my downfall. But the tale has an ominous coda. When we arrived back in Silverton we had some free time to bang around town. I indulged my sweet tooth by buying a bar of Toblerone™, and I was observed doing it.
The fall. Fast forward a few months. It's winter in Boulder. I live in a house in Table Mesa. I am now a failed student, almost compost. That was the word for those foolish enough to leave The Community. I hatch a plan to test myself with a hike. I will march straight west as far as I can go. To further test my mettle I'll march in as straight a line as possible, undeterred by obstacles. I get into hiking gear and pocket my compass to stay on track. I bulldoze through some thickets any sensible man would've walked around, but otherwise just hike along. It's easy until I get to the Mesa Trail, where the terrain gets steep. I climb up a dry gully and find my passage blocked by a huge boulder. I scramble up one side of the boulder, and I can see my gully route continuing up as I peer around the bend of the boulder. I just need to make a little arcing jump to get there. Such a tiny leap compared to my moonlight dancing.
Black. Trouble is, no momentum. I'm clinging to the boulder and now my hands are starting to tremble with fatigue. The way back looks bad; I lurched myself into the position I'm now in and I have to go forward; it's do or die. I summon all my strength and make the leap, landing squarely in the gully. But I can't stick the dismount. I totter there momentarily, then see myself falling backward off the mountain in slow-mo, arms waving futilely in the air. At some point everything goes black. I have no memory of the impact.
The aftermath. According to the Daily Camera I fell 35 feet; I went back to the spot at one point and it looked more like 25 to me, maybe 30 tops. Whatever. It was far enough to break two bony parts I'd never heard of before: the ramus of my right ischium, and the coracoid process of my right scapula. I fell onto a scree slope; that saved my life. Evidently I'd been calling out for help. I emerged into consciousness to see three faces hovering over me, hikers who'd heeded my call and come to my rescue. Eventually Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue arrived. They assessed me, gave me morphine, strapped me onto a stretcher, and carried me down the trail to the ambulance, several miles away. It was a bumpy ride. The morphine didn't do anything but make me nauseous; I puked over the side of the stretcher a time or two.
Demerol. I got no relief until I got reassessed in the ER and a shot of demerol. It reminded me of my tonsillectomy at age 5. I was given sodium pentathol. I babbled to the nurse that I would come back every year to have my tonsils out. In Boulder I didn't babble nuthin', just eased down into my nod, carried away in the tender embrace of the Angel of Synthetic Opioids.
Homeless. TH hatched a plan to break me out of my slump by sending me on a hitchhiking trip as soon it warmed up. I was looking forward to it: big adventure! Hitchhiking was on its last legs in the 80s but still doable; I'd done a little in conjunction with hike-through backpacking trips. Backpacking is one thing; wilderness is a friendly camping environment. Hitchhiking would have been homelessness. You get picked up and dropped off in a different kind of jungle. To be out there for several months, just bumming? Real bums respond to that quite sensibly, staying drunk and drugged to deaden the experience. Leela made sure I would be in no condition to go a-hitchin'. The next plan for my salvation that TH came up with was a good one; I had a blast in Jamestown.