“Hi, er… what does a home mean?” ‘What? What d’ya mean?’ “Well, I don’t have a home right now and, somehow, I can’t seem to figure out why I need one. Do I?” ‘What! Everybody needs one … I guess.’ “Yes, but why?”
Some dismissed me outright like I had the plague. Others thought I was playing mind games. Yet most, once they’d processed their disbelief, could see how sincerely lost I really was. It didn’t surprise me though, I knew we weren’t supposed to talk about our problems or look weak in front of others, especially strangers. Somehow we were supposed to know everything, be perfect or like Johnny said ‘a model citizen in every way’. Well, I wasn’t and didn’t have time for damage control either. We weren’t born knowing everything and, as far as I could tell, we weren’t supposed to. I didn’t understand why knowing more or less had to make me better than someone else? Maybe I was an old bundle of special needs like my old roommate said.
One stranger refused to tell me anything; insisting I needed to find out for myself through direct experience, so that it would sink in for good. Anything else was just head knowledge, which he believed I already had. Others were uncomfortable with his bluntness, but he was right. I bowed my head and thanked him for having the courage to tell me the truth.
It was interesting to note that regardless of how foolish I felt asking, people perked up like a wilted plant after a watering. It was as if they’d been waiting their whole lives to be of assistance, and all it took was a desperate soul like me to give them that opportunity. I didn’t know if being of service to others was the way the universe really worked or not, but I wanted to know – and that was a refreshing change for once.
When it became obvious the data wasn’t as black and white as initially thought, I came up with the crazy idea of building an office space in my head to analyze it all. While it sounded crazy, on the bright side it gave my mind something to do besides accumulate worries. From past work experience I furnished it with standard accessories like filing cabinets, desks, paper and folders and even a fake plant in the corner to make it homier. And to complete the fabrication, I declined the role of CEO (I couldn’t handle that level of responsibility) preferring the lesser, yet crucial, role of secretary instead.
It felt good to be actively involved in my life again. True, I’d done it to some extent after high school, but it felt like I hadn’t lived up to my full potential – whatever that was! I hated acting; it felt too fake like living a lie, but I didn’t know how to merge my life experiences with paying the bills?
Following my own advice, I took a time out to analyze the data as best I could. From this an interesting pattern emerged: those that were the most attractive and made the most sense already had homes and were both logically and spiritually minded. Their unattractive counterparts turned out to be either emotionally cold fish and insensitive to the needs of others, or flighty airheads too emotionally involved at the expense of themselves whether they had homes or not. The druggies and the like conformed to predictable rebellion regardless of outcome. I prided myself on being highly spiritual and wouldn’t discount it no matter what, but did it mean I had to be homeless too? I hoped not. As the truth of honoring my physical world needs hit home, it was no wonder I couldn’t see it – I hadn’t wanted to! It was something I’d been avoiding for decades. With a shudder climbing my spine, I pulled up my proverbial socks and donned the role of scientist.
‘Now Dr. Varma what shall we do with all this data?’ “I think we should analyze it and see where the mop flops,” laughing sarcastically at my lax scientific terminology. “But there’s so much of it!” ‘Well then get some help.’ “Yes, but where?” ‘Ask some friends you can trust.’ I thought about it, but going to close friends with such a no-brainer sounded too humiliating and potentially counterproductive. “Is there another way?” ‘Well, do it yourself.’ “I am.” ‘I mean, divvy up the work.’ “To who?” ‘To yourself.’ “How?” As if on cue another idea popped into my head to divide half my brainpower to assessing the ‘Yes, I needed a home’ side, and the other half to the ‘No, I didn’t need a home’ side. The rest of the ambivalent data I could leave in a separate pile and inspect later if need be.
Feeling good for being so ingenious was always the kiss of death for me. It meant I’d slid to one extreme of the emotional seesaw and, as always, the slide back would be through the thorns and thistles of arrogance and pride. It was always a rush though – especially if I survived.
With my new brainpower team working happily away, I fell in love with the efficient control I felt over my life. But I wanted more. If the process went faster then maybe nobody would even have to know I’d been homeless. Despite my misgivings, the payoff was just too great to not at least try. So I swallowed the bait and chose to increase efficiency by smoking more dope. Suddenly a shadow loomed overhead, forming a bridge between the two cities I instinctively felt were More and Efficiency. Yet did more always mean efficient and what about its impact on society? People were hurt all the time in the name of both – me included. In a world priding itself on the scientific approach, was there any statistical evidence related to the impact of putting off for tomorrow versus living for today? What if feeling hurt was simply a byproduct of not getting present day needs met?
My vision shifted and I found myself afloat on a wooden boat in a harbor littered with Grecian-style buildings. In my eagerness to be returning home and the safety of terra firma after a long stint at sea, the boat to rock from side to side. In a moment of stop, I peered into deep dark waters that held unknown perils. The boat stabilized. Everything became crystal clear. I was being shown something important. On the body of water I instinctively knew as ‘Never Satisfied’, the sun’s golden essence reflected off the meandering tributaries of ‘More’ and ‘Efficiency’. Stranded with my fears of the unknown, I sat down and sulked. Out of nowhere a loud audible chuckle almost made my predicament appear funny. With my pride wounded, my predicament became clearer. In looking for a final destination I was losing sight of the journey. Maybe the journey never stopped whether on land or at sea? I didn’t know, but I wanted to know. Armed with this realization, I stood up at the helm of my vessel and sailed on.
© Michael J. Varma, The Gong Show, 2011 –
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