On A Silver Platter
Surprisingly, moving forward wasn’t as scary as I thought. Pride still flashed red, but after years of opening and slamming doors on opportunities, I was ready to take the plunge. Besides, if people were faking kindness they’d be held accountable by their own God. It felt so good to see others genuinely interested in me other than in a pitiful way. Brushing aside fears of other people’s genuineness, I knew enough to make use of it while it lasted. Pride took another beating for being wrong or ‘not as correct’ as it had led me to believe, but it was well deserved. What else had changed? You’d think I would’ve known better than to ask by now?!
Bored and a little hungry, I composed myself enough to order food at McDonald’s. In the lineup, I couldn’t help but overhear people talking. It seemed ordinary until I tuned into what they were actually saying. ‘He’s okay. I’m looking after him. How’s yours doing?’ ‘Good. Still up to the same old things. And yours?’ ‘The usual, you know.’ They chuckled. ‘Still he’s coming around.’ ‘And yours?’ Shock became humiliation. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who had ‘pet projects’. I thought only people in trouble needed help, but why me? I knew I was in trouble, but why did they? I hadn’t told them, didn’t know them or even wanted them to know. Were they Christians out to convert me or stalkers trying to enlist me in some secret underground cult? Confused, I took my food to go and left – quickly! I needed someone to talk to.
Back on Davie, I asked others if they’d heard anything like that before. they laughed as if they knew something I didn’t. “You make it sound like they’re sugar mommie or daddies,” I said half-heartedly. They didn’t laugh. “Do you guys know them and know what they’re up to? Why are you still here then?” Silence. I hated silence. Filling the void with a more agreeable reasons. “Maybe they’re like those people sent by God to rescue people stuck on the rooftops in a flood? I mean…” Sometimes I was so good at putting my foot in my own mouth! I turned inward realizing we were those people on the rooftops!
Was I so hurt and so in need that only God, Him/Her/Itself could help me? If that wasn’t special I didn’t know what was?
Being an object in someone else’s plan didn’t sit well. but what if that was the way it really worked? Surely I wasn’t so arrogant to think I was the only one who could help people – was I? What was the difference between humility and wounded pride or were they both partners on the road to salvation? What if everyone was a messenger from God, but didn’t know it? What if we didn’t want to know it? Why wouldn’t we? What if helper and helpee weren’t as cut and dried as I thought? In the Universe of oneness there was no separation only in the Universe of pride! If I was both helper and helpee than maybe I was stopping others from evolving by not accepting their help. But then what?
Accepting my role as helpee, I seized the bull by the horns and confronted anyone I thought there to help me face to face. Some left, bewildered and shocked. Others sat and talked about their experiences reminding me of days long past. Daring to face my own fears made it easier for me to talk with others whether there to help one another or not. On the brighter side, I was at least talking to people from different walks of life.
Trying to keep the momentum alive, I called my ex’s sister who’d taken care of me after a car accident. She’d seen me naked: my shame, wounds, hurts, pains and sufferings, but still took care and nurtured me. I’d been appreciative in my own way. Now I pleaded my case before her and the Universe one more time, trusting in her stable Aquarian nature. “Maybe being a dreamer in a world gone mad isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe I’m not such a bad person. Maybe I’m needed to let people know they don’t have to be perfect to have dreams, hopes and desires? Maybe the world needed a dreamer right now if it’s ever going to survive. Maybe I was born to let people know they can believe even if they don’t know!”
Then I saw what I was doing: I was giving myself permission to be me. The floodgates of emotionality opened. “I’m so tired of being told what to do. I have the right to look and learn for myself to find what’s real. Nobody has the right to take that away from me, nobody!” Trusting she was strong enough to take care of herself, I burst into tears. “I know I sound desperate, but … but I am!”
Ever-vigilant of not polluting her with my problems, I trusted she could show me how to take care of myself through leading by example. She didn’t disappoint. Hearing her tell me it was okay to be me was like an angel singing softly in my ears. Even better, she was an Earth-angel, something I could hear and feel with my own senses for once. I thanked her and hung up the phone.
Then I called my mom and told her roughly the same. Her response: ‘you were all good kids growing up and I’m proud of all of you.’ “Mom, why didn’t you tell me that before?” But I knew why. I wouldn’t have listened with the same sense of gratitude I now had. “Mom, I thought I was a rotten kid for doing so many bad things. That was what my addiction, homelessness, madness and sexuality was all about: punishing myself for not being good!” ‘All kids go through the same stuff. I wasn’t so different.’ Her words were so direct and so out of character that they hurt, but I knew she meant well.
In a social setting, with my social anxiety blazing, I found the courage to ask her one simple question: “what is one plus one?” Others snickered as if I was nuts, but I held on and tied my energy around the core of Mother Earth. “Please. I just need to know this one thing so that everything else makes sense.” She looked at me, then into me. I blushed a little then took the plunge and let her in. ‘Two,’ she said, ‘and there’s also medication for what you’re going through.’ ‘What am I going through?’ I asked defensively. But I knew what she meant. ‘Paranoia,’ she said, ‘You can see a doctor to get help for it.’ Pride resurfaced, but I held it in place.
Had I forgotten or assumed it was okay to be paranoid or too scared and proud to get help? Either way, I wasn’t. Did she know what to do because she knew? I smiled lovingly and never forgot what she’d done even after she passed away. God rest her loving soul. Yet that wasn’t the only thing bared. I was not only scared of being wrong, but of being right as well! Instead I tried to make others responsible for me, but then despised them and myself for being such a coward.
With awareness on the rise, I pleaded my case before my ex-boss. Trusting his Iranian humility would outweigh his Scorpio directness, I asked him for the truth. He looked into me and I bared my soul. Then he said getting an apartment, a golden couch or anything would mean absolutely nothing if I didn’t fix myself inside first. He was right, but so was I. I just needed his validation that I was on the right track. So, the old cliché was true after all: home was where the heart was! My true home was within me. The external world was just there to help me find it.
Feeling more centered, I moved in to my new unfurnished basement suite on January 1st, 2003. It wasn’t the best, but like I told my friend: I had to start somewhere. While it was dark and moldy, it didn’t have bedbugs like those places ‘so-called’ professionals prescribed for job security. It was quiet, away from the madness and a much-needed step in the right direction.
I tried to get tom to move in, but he made it look like I was asking him to leave town. Sure I had no furniture, but saying he could get better treatment in jail hurt. Sure he was an ungrateful bastard, but I also knew he could set his sights higher or end up in jail for good. At least my apartment was mine and not shared with someone named ‘Bubba’. And I could come and go whenever I wanted as long as I paid the rent. I could even sleep on the streets if I wanted. He didn’t like that, but then again ingratitude wasn’t supposed to like anything. He left the next morning as ungrateful as ever.
Scared he’d tell others untruths about me; I panicked and went into damage control mode. Yet, paradoxically, the more people I talked to revealed everything I feared he was going to do to me came from my own mind. They were things I was capable of doing! I rode pride like a mechanical bull. How many other times had I blamed him for things I was capable of doing? I didn’t know. So not to hurt him anymore, I made one of the most difficult decisions of my life: to let him go; to let them all go.
The deep bonds I’d worked so hard at making tore at my heart. Was I quitting or naturally evolving? Would anyone even notice me or even care if I stayed? Like a swimmer who takes into account a stream’s current, I relied to jeers of being a quitter. “I’m not quitting. I’m just carrying on with my journey. If I don’t go, I’ll just be treading water and going nowhere. The streets will always be there. It’s like a TV channel I can watch, switch or turn off if I want to. Right now I want to watch something different. And I even have a remote control: it’s me!”
I was still scared to go it alone and tried desperately to bring Tom along, but it was like taking a horse to water and watching it not drink. Although too proud to admit it, he was still ruled by what other people thought and said. Worse he reject me and the teachings I passed onto him. Fed up with his violent behavior, lying, games and playing Superman to endless Damsel In Distress shenanigans, the truth became clear. He liked what I could for him more than me.
Seeing him actively gonging me after all I’d done for him was the last straw. Utterly rejected, I lashed back like a hurt child, but in doing so didn’t like who I was becoming. And like Elvis sang in his hit song, Hurt, ‘even though you hurt me like nobody else could ever do, I would never ever hurt you.‘ – at least not consciously anyway. I tried with all my heart to remember he wasn’t the enemy. If anybody was, it was me. And even when he got girlfriends and other friends, I still kept a watchful eye. Yet eventually, I had to leave him to play ‘Last Soldier on the Battlefield’ on his own.
It hurt to see him with others and not me, even if it was for my own good. Maybe we were more alike than I cared to believe. We both wanted love and attention, but denied its opportunity if it wasn’t on our terms. If opposites attracted and similar charges repelled one another, did the same hold true for us or was there some other reason people got together that I wasn’t privy to? If so, no wonder chemistry was so important in relationships.
Unable to let him go, I turned to one of his mentors: Eminem. Watching him put himself down to disarm an opponent in 8 Mile gave me what I was looking for.
Walking beneath the Burrard Street Bridge, I smoked a bowl and offered myself to the Universe in true madman style. Going through the entire zodiac sign by sign, I spoke aloud their archetypal key-phrases according to Joanna Watters: “I, Michael Varma am and am not (Aries), I possess and do not (Taurus), I think and do not think (Gemini); I nurture and take (Cancer); I am proud yet lack courage (Leo); I serve others and myself (Virgo); I decide yet am indecisive (Libra); I desire yet do not (Scorpio); I seek higher truth and wisdom, and do not want to (Sagittarius); I achieve, yet do not succeed (Capricorn); I know yet know nothing (Aquarius); I believe and disbelieve (Pisces). I am these, none and everything in between.” Finished holy-watering my connection to the Universe, I bowed my head and left.
© Michael J. Varma, The Gong Show, 2011 –
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