I thought a lot about my private scream sessions yesterday. They actually did a lot to help me get through some tough times. While John & Yoko and other celebrities paid Dr. Arthur Janov the big bucks for their scream therapy, I was getting mine for free. Of course they were probably receiving mega doses of psychotherapy as well, but I was getting the most important benefit, the release of my neurosis through emotional expression, and it wasn’t costing me a cent.
I became quite reliant on my mountaintop therapy, fight with my girlfriend, I’d head for the hills, problems with parents, mountain road trip, mad at the world, canyon call. Yeah, screaming out my frustrations was working pretty well for me. On a few occasions I even went up and howled at the moon! That’s right I went up to my therapy spot by the dam on more than a few moonlit nights and released my rage. I was really on to something.
But as George Harrison wrote, “All things must pass, all things must pass away…” One late afternoon I headed up to the canyon to cut loose. I arrived at my spot and got right down to it. I approached the edge and let loose with a long, loud, raw scream, it was so full of rage it reminded me of a Indian war cry. I remember how good I felt after that scream, so good in fact that I was compelled to scream three more times. You know, if one feels good, more is better. By the time I was finished I felt awesome as though I’d been set free. I knew it was only temporary, but God it felt so damn good! If I’d known at that moment that it was to be my last scream session I’d have savored the moment all the more.
As per the usual, once I was finished with my screaming, I went back to my car, put on some Moody Blues, lit a cigarette, and sat back on the fender. The solitude was incredible! I remember looking around, taking in God’s creation, the breeze rustling through the trees, the chirping birds and the setting sun reflecting off the water, it was all so beautiful! Yeah, I was really in the moment. A good friend of mine opposed drug use as a way to enhance the life experience. He always professed the beauty of reaching a ‘naturally high’ or being ‘high on life’ and at that particular moment, I knew exactly what Paul meant. I was having my own, personal ‘San Gabriel Mountain High’ experience!
I’m not sure how long I sat up there, an hour maybe. I do know it was beginning to get dark. From where I sat I could see the road winding down the mountainside perhaps as far as four or five miles away. As I was looking down the canyon I saw a car off in the distance racing up the hillside. A few moments later it became pretty clear that it was a police car with its lights flashing. I watched and wondered as they came in and out of view, what might be happening and if they would be racing past me. Actually it had been surprisingly quiet that afternoon Usually a dozen or more cars went speeding by in both directions while I was there, that day there had been only been three. The turnout where I sat was on a relatively straight section of the highway perhaps a half mile long. Driving up the mountain you came out of a tight left curve into the half mile straightaway. It was a favorite spot of ours when we were up here Ricky racing around.
I continued to watch the approaching police car. I figured they had to be heading to the scene of an accident or some other emergency. The only question was, had it happened above or below my location. I didn’t have to wait long to find out, a moment or two later the police car came barreling around the curve. I was expecting it to build up speed and fly past me but instead as it approached it swerved right into the turnout and came to a screeching halt maybe ten yards in front of me, lost in a cloud of dust. Man, I couldn’t believe it! I stood up just as both officers emerged from the car and approached me. Neither officer had their weapon drawn but both had their hand on their holsters!
“Turn around and place your hands on the roof of your car!” the driver shouted and I quickly obliged. I asked what the problem was but got no response. The driver came up to me and positioned me in a pat down position and proceeded to do so. I couldn’t see the other officer, but I could hear his footsteps in the dirt. It sounded as though he was walking near the edge of the turnout. When the frisking was finished I was allowed to turn around while my car was searched. I couldn’t believe what was happening! By this time the second officer had walked slowly along the edge carefully scanning the rocks below. He finally made his way down a small trail and disappeared from view.
In the meantime the first officer had finished searching my car and had asked for my license and registration. Once satisfied that I was me and the car was mine, he explained why they were there. Apparently they were pulled over in a turnout some miles down the road when they heard a scream echo down the canyon. Within moments it was followed by three more shrieks. Fearing that someone might be under attack they took off and began their search. At one of the other turnouts they stopped to question someone who told them the’d been coming back from the East Fork and had seen a red VW in a turnout up the road and a guy standing near the edge, overlooking the dam. They told them that they had also heard what sounded like screams earlier.
About that time the other officer climbed back up the hillside and joined us. He told his partner he hadn’t found anything or anyone. I couldn’t believe it! they thought I had assaulted someone who had screamed their head off, and I’d thrown my victim down the side of the hillside towards the dam! Unbelievable!
Given the chance to explain what I’d been doing, I proceeded to tell them all about my anger issues and my scream therapy remedy. They were not amused. They said what I was doing was dangerous and suggested I find another way to deal with my teen age rage. That was my last dam scream therapy session. I have to tell you, I really missed them. I tried screaming in my closed up car a couple of times, but it just wasn’t the same. I had to fall back on driving away my troubles. I also began picking up my guitar more often when I was feeling stressed or angry. Both worked okay, but not nearly as well as screaming from the mountaintops…