From the ground everything was different: the view, air, smells, sounds and people. Even I felt different. Yet it had taken so much effort to sit down in public as if its primal nature heralded an evolutionary setback that’d see me reduced to walking on all fours. I could hear them now: ‘Poor thing, he’s got some catching up to do – evolutionary speaking of course, ah, ah, ahhh!’ And all I’d be capable of would be to grunt back in a devolved guttural ‘fuck-you’ language.
In mock defiance I laughed at the passers-by. I wanted to destroy them like the Pistols did – ‘cause I wanted to be anarchy.’ The only problem was who’d save me then? They wouldn’t. They couldn’t even look at me. They were so smug and into themselves, they weren’t even real anymore; hiding out in some ‘third rate cheap illusory show‘. Fuck, Johnny had never made so much sense. Smoldering anger only amplified my not wanting to be seen. I fell down the mountainside of my being into the shadowy depths of an awaiting abyss. Even more ironic, I’d participated in its creation with my own two hands. Left with only two options: to stay and fight or run and fight another day, I chose the lesser of two evils and ran towards a dumpster. If anything, my psychotic remains could be easily disposed of in my final selfless act for society.
I wasn’t just heading down the alley towards the dumpsters; it was down the backstreets of madness. I knew them all too well. This time it felt more real than I remembered. I thought about taking notes on the relationship of pain and suffering on perceptive reality, but actually feeling my feelings proved too excruciating. Holding on to my remaining sanity, something dislodged on the internal levels of my being and fell to the ground with a thud. Then another fell and another and another. Paralyzed by fear, my inner structures came crashing down around me.
Scared, I clung to the ground. Then in rhythmic unison everything fell like strategically positioned dominoes possessing their own individual mental, emotional and personality structures. Pride at the complexity of my inner being was quickly replaced by a profound sense of emptiness. Bobbling like a cork on water, thoughts unraveled and, propelled by the energy of feelings, collided into one another in a super-colliding, particle-smashing tapestry of paradoxical madness. I was being relieved of the right to possess those very things which made me human on the road to hell. Alone on the ground I sat falling to pieces, but none could tell, for I’d mastered the art of not causing a scene.
Every nuance of wind, sunshine, sound and sense stung like a cattle prod. Even after forty years of life I’d never felt anything so intense. I cried for my protective shell, but knew the Universe was making me feel the full weight of my sins. Stunned, eyes pleaded outwards for help, but none came. My mouth opened, but couldn’t express the inexpressible. I was drowning, yet was too scared to call out for help just like before when a good friend had come to my rescue. Now I was alone, a damaged little boy, huddled in the brutality of negative self-image, dead scared of the world with absolutely no clue or control over what was happening to him. I hung my head in shame and turned inward.
Tired of always having to pick up the pieces, I wanted desperately to get it right, but didn’t know what ‘it’ even was. Questions – always questions that needed answers. As I peered into the void, question, questioner, answer and answerer were swallowed up. I pulled back and turned away from the nothing I was becoming. Then to a different nothing, to the one thing I’d forgotten: nothing was wrong with me, nothing I couldn’t fix anyway. In fact, it simply wasn’t happening. Not to me. I’d been wrong and looking at it all the wrong way. I could handle being wrong – I’d done it often enough. Yet why did my sense of happiness always depend on being wrong?
In a profound silence arose a stillness quite unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. Alone, in the eye of a hurricane, lay the strewn wreckage of my life – if not lifetimes. “I don’t like it here. I don’t want to be here. Anywhere but here,” I quietly pleaded to the Universe. As far as I was concerned, I’d been a bad boy and bad boys got punished. I wanted those same familiar feelings of hurt and blame and shame and guilt and fear … you know, the punishing rewards for a life ill spent. So, that’s what Krishnamurti had meant when he said ‘there was no fear of the unknown, only fear of giving up the known’. I was scared of giving up my punishing rewards, for something I couldn’t remember ever knowing no matter how loving they might be. Naked and vulnerable like fresh meat for a predatory feast, I felt cold, so cold, so alone, so nothing, so void, so….
Denial blanketed me in its warmth and did what it did best: concocted a slew of anything-other-than-what-was-really-happening-to-me excuses: I wasn’t homeless. I was just temporarily without a place to crash. A voice erupted shouting out: ‘loser – don’t go there’. “Shut up! Shut up!” I barked back. How long did it take to be classified as homeless – a day, a month, a year, a second? And just who did the classifying anyway? And what was a home? A refrigerator box in an alley could be called a home, couldn’t it? And how did that differ from a house and any big storage locker of material things? Why had society turned something so necessary and primal into a poker game? In deep thought the proverbial light went on. “So, that’s what this is all about?” I told myself, smiling, “to find out what a true home is?”
The truth was I’d never known what a home was, not really, not even growing up. Steel doors slammed shut sending my mind spinning. Evidently, I wasn’t meant to delve any deeper into those subject matters, at least not yet. The truth was I didn’t want to deal with them, not now, not even if it was my duty.
I got up, wiped my eyes, walked down the alley a ways to an underground parking lot, took out my pipe and smoked a bowl. Calmness descended. Poor me stepped aside and my ‘temporary cure’ kicked in. “No wonder people did drugs,” I reaffirmed, marveling at its ability to soothe even the most savage beast. I breathed deeply and let the air mix with the high to reinvigorate me to new highs. There’d be lots of time later to think about what I had to do. Right now I just wanted to rest.
© Michael J. Varma, The Gong Show, 2011 –
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