A New Student
In treatment I told my counselor about seeing a number ‘pasted’ onto clients I believed was the age when the trauma and addictive behaviors began. With Tom I saw the number four. It’d be several years before learning how tall children are mistaken for being older and expected to behave more maturely than they actually could. With so many emotional chasms to cross, I didn’t have a clue what my number was, but whatever it was I knew it had something to do with the scar on my chest.
Surrounded by a captive audience, arms a-flailing, mouth a-talking and a-selling, he grinned from ear to ear at all the attention he received. And why not? He was a success. Yet through it all he still took the time to speak to me and make me feel special. Intrigued by a mind that flitted from conversations to conversation with the agility of a dragonfly, everything brightened. I left my body to behold a new way of being. Yet through it all I saw a scared little boy being eaten alive with the need to impress. I couldn’t believe it. He was a younger version of me! I asked the Universe what it thought about me taking on another “student.” Surprised at how natural it felt to converse with the Universe, genderless voices spoke in loving gentle tones said: ‘look after yourself’, ‘it’s up to you’, ‘ consider you intentions’. Others, less melodic, warned me: ‘he doesn’t deserve it’, ‘you have your health and finances to worry about’ and ‘you don’t even know him’. Yet when all was said and done, I made a pact to make Tom my last ‘student.’
I’d had three ‘students’ before and each one had left me worse off and nearly dead each time. Not because of the drugs, them being bad students or me being a bad teacher, but because I never realized they were teaching me too. My situation was different now: I was both teacher and student. Surely that had to count for something. While I’d never been so down and out, I felt more real than I’d ever been in my entire life. For once in my life I felt like I had nothing to lose and everything to gain! It felt wrong even manipulative, but then again anything new always did. This time though, I loved him, not in sexual way, but as a human being. Maybe that was the difference. Needless to say, this time I promised to pay more attention, be more alert and more serious especially to the good stuff anyway. And, if I was going to die, what better way than to go out with a bang? In the meantime, I could pass on whatever I’d learned as a parting gift.
Although told paying back my ‘crimes against humanity’ was too great a burden to bear, I trusted the Universe to let me know when I’d paid back my debt.
Apart from a short temper, Tom was the freest spirit I’d ever seen. Jumping into bins without the slightest worry, he meticulously opened each and every bag like a mad man on a treasure hunt. Oblivious to the condemnation and ‘gong shows’ of others, he knew what, how and when to say it. I wanted to be like him and not worry about what others thought of me. Although his single goal of making money for drugs was a simple code of escapist existence, I didn’t have the right to fix what wasn’t broken for him. Yet I had to sleep, eat and relax to recharge my batteries to be of continued use. Shielded behind his protective charismatic charm, I preferred invisibility over exposure – albeit enviously.
Where there had been the search for one truth, now stood many and it was okay to not know which one was right. Together our child-like innocence, thoughts, mannerisms and behaviors deepened and strengthened our friendship. The more he opened up, the more his wit and creativity formed patterns of particle-smashing majesty bringing much needed fresh air to a mind straight-jacketed with needing to be right.
Every ‘random’ number depended on a ‘random’ seed, but it also gave it purpose, direction and meaning. How could I not appreciate such a gift from God for helping me rejoin the karmic dance of life?
© Michael J. Varma, The Gong Show, 2011 –
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