I paced the sidewalk outside Davie street office nervous as all hell. My mind pushed and pulled, conjuring up unknown horrors from behind post, tree and bush. With a deep breath, I climbed the stairs of an institution I’d been to countless times. Yet now I felt they were out to strip me of my identity and individuality more than ever. But maybe that was better than clinging to the ones I had. I just needed to get inside, where I could handle whatever was thrown at me. Yet this time was different: I really needed them. Now it was on their terms not mine.
I crept in virtually unnoticed with a celebrity smile that would’ve won the academy award for pleasing. I walked up to the Plexiglas partition, slipped the intent-to-rent form underneath and let out a huge sigh of relief thankful my ordeal was nearly over. Heads turned, but for once I didn’t care. The worker took the form, looked at it and within seconds handed it straight back to me. His mouth formed words in a strange dialect. Priding myself on above average communication skills, he appeared to be speaking spoke in a dialect of English I hadn’t heard before. Knowing the language couldn’t have evolved that quickly, I strained to listen. I recognized a few words, but it was as if my brain couldn’t translate properly anymore. Then I realized what he was saying was not what I wanted to hear. It’d happened before when a friend scared the hell out of me by wearing a giant insect mask instead of the gorilla one I was expecting. Now I was being told my office was at Renfrew and Broadway – something I neither expected nor wanted to hear.
My energy changed so fast that he visibly shook, which didn’t make me feel any better either. Normally I dealt with the stupidity and inefficiencies of others by pointing out the error of their ways, especially when it served my purposes. This time, however, I needed him so I played the clown and acted like it was all a big joke. His lack of response only reaffirmed they didn’t play those kind of games there – at least not in the public eye. Like a deer caught in headlights my breath stopped. Involuntary laughter did little to hide the nervousness of my life flashing before my eyes. He moved away pointing to a district map that showed my office was in one of those political fingers cooked up years ago by self-serving politicians. Although I admired his conflict resolution skills in providing me with such polite attention, my feelings were hurt. I was not getting my way. Mentally projecting a finger of my own, I knew when I was beat. Apparently no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get a break.
Heaving the dead weight known as me-and-my-frustrations aside, I looked at the problem again. The bottom line was they were there to help me and since I was already on disability they couldn’t refuse me. With my ass-kissing skills in short supply I had every reason to feel scared., but I just had to keep my cool and play the game like my friend said. So, I took a deep breath, regained some sense of self-composure and asked if they could fax the form over to my new office. After all, it’d be more resourceful and efficient. But it didn’t matter if I was sick, HIV, dying or I’d already done it before, they couldn’t do it because they had ‘different’ forms in that office. I looked around for the hidden camera filming Candid Camera to explain my frustrations.
Resisting the urge to jump over the counter and kill the bastard, I kept my cool and saw the benefits of the justice system: not only did laws keep people like me out of jail, but him out of the grave as well. Defeated, I looked up at the universe and shrugged my shoulders in a mock display of giving up. I motioned to leave, but the temptation to push the envelope was just too great. In mock defiance of authority, I looked him straight in the eye and asked if having a different form for the same thing for the same offices wasn’t terribly inefficient? The look on his face was priceless. His ego cracked and his co-workers moved instinctively closer like ducks pooling together from a too curious cat. I smiled from ear to ear at their predictable and primal behavior. I’d dared question the powers that be and that in itself was worth all the bother. I left with my head held high.
Outside, the world became dreamlike and surreal yet, surprisingly, more manageable. Petals of space and time opened permeating the senses with an intoxicating scent of truth. I laughed almost maniacally, yet non-maliciously. Everything became so clear. Rather than play a game I couldn’t win, all I had to do was give up and refuse to play to not have those problems anymore. Nothing was stopping me. Without an opponent there’d be no game and no fuss from anyone whatsoever – not even from God. I cowered hoping He hadn’t heard me, yet secretly wishing He had. At least then I would’ve known if He was there or not. Sure there’d be new problems, but they couldn’t be any worse than the old ones.
Temptation aside, giving up control of my power to feel good didn’t make sense. Playing it out to its logical end, I stood before a black hole, a cosmic manifestation so powerful even light couldn’t escape. It got closer and closer before engulfing me in its turning mass. I stood at its core feeding on light itself! I longed to be able to emit my own light, but couldn’t while trapped. Storm clouds formed in the sky of mind. A ray of light shone through revealing a ‘universal’ remote control and a recliner with which I could sit back and make things happen with the click of a button. It, I, was laziness personified.
A spiritual tug of war ravaged my energy field. The sickening levels of decadence, laziness and sloth percolated deep within. I heaved, but nothing spilled from the hollow shell of a man I’d become. I cried to the universe and begged for forgiveness. Yes, I’d wanted it easy, but not at the expense of my soul and power, but I didn’t know what else to do. Yet even that was a lie. A real man would stand up and face his problems head held high and not run like a frightened child every time something went wrong. ‘Today is a good day to die’ went the Klingon battle cry and to die with honour was a good thing, Klingon or not.
A memory touched a feeling awakening an ancient part from a coma. It stretched and reached out from Source, the ground of existence, through the ages, through the very foundations of the Earth itself, through my body and into me. It was my connection to the Universe spanning the depths of time and my past lives to my current weak and transparent self. Intense shame and remorse erupted for spending an entire life defiling and diluting my connection to God. In spite of being an outspoken champion for other people’s dignity and rights, I felt like coward for not being able to open my mouth to save my own life.
Energy surged through veins casting light on doubts lingering in the shadows. I saw what I’d allowed myself to become: living proof of how low a human being could go. So what if I made it to the office or not! I’d be laughed at, made an example of and thrown out with the rest of the trash. I could hear them telling me: ‘why even bother? Do us all a favor and end it, just end it. We can’t afford to waste any more money on people like you. Don’t you get it? Other people need it more than you. We don’t invest in sinking ships. Sorry, we’re just not equipped to deal with your level of lowliness.’ My energy bio-feedbacked and I shook in an electrotherapeutic frenzy. I racked my brain until the words of an old friend came to mind: just because I was a mess didn’t mean I had to dress the part and let the whole world know. While I thanked him for those words of wisdom, I couldn’t quite get past how it wasn’t lying. I was a mess; I really was, so to not tell the truth was lying, wasn’t it? Didn’t I have to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God? A bright light shone reminding me I had a bus to catch.
On the bright side, it’d be a simple ride if I didn’t look or talk to anyone. I just had to mind my own business and everything would be fine. I’d done it before. Nothing would go wrong if I didn’t want it to. I just had to believe – but there was still the gnawing question of how badly I wanted the place. I did, but not wholeheartedly – I could feel it. I lowered my head and sank within myself. Why couldn’t I want something one hundred percent and not be so wishy-washy about everything? But what if it was one of those missing jigsaw pieces that was preventing me from moving forward!?
In a wild move, I surrendered to the chaos as a truth so devastating hit me like a ton of bricks. I was ashamed of being like ‘them’! In the vacuum create by spitting out those venomous thoughts, guilt and shame rushed me like a home invasion. I fell to the ground and took the pummeling. I didn’t want to be like ‘them’, but I was. I’d only been pretending to be better and more perfect. I fell into my heart and cried. I knew it was wrong to judge others, but … I really didn’t want to be like ‘them’! I didn’t.
Cocooned within a dense suffocating bubble of energy, I sat on the grass in Victory Square looking at ‘them’ and the so-called regular people, the other nobody’s, failures, wannabe’s and forgotten ones who walked around aimlessly pretending they actually had something better to do besides dying. I couldn’t be like ‘them’ either, I just couldn’t… “Why not?’ asked a gentle loving voice. Why not indeed?
My heart melted and I saw how evil I’d become. I hadn’t amounted to much, but I knew I was better than that. Now it was time to prove it before I did end up in hell. I ventured inside to take a good look at myself, but a huge shadowy entity blocked the way refusing to move. Thinking I’d reached as far as I was going to go in this life, I cursed myself for being such a coward and vowed with whatever little time I had left to find out what was going on. So, I sat defiantly with my feelings until an answer came: it was false pride. But what did that have to do with other people? It was my pride not theirs, false or not.
I looked at them curiously and innocently, all of them, racking my brains trying to find a clue as to what I was even looking for. There wasn’t anything there, at least nothing I could see. Against my better judgment I looked into their eyes: a little deeper, a little longer. But I still couldn’t see anything. Exasperated, I grabbed my hair and shook my head. Why was everything always so fucking confusing? Then it hit me. I couldn’t see anything because there wasn’t anything to see – nothing out of the ordinary anyway. There was no difference between ‘them’ and me!
Stunned into silence, I sat there like a dummy staring into space. It didn’t feel as bad as I thought it should’ve, but how could I believe anything I thought anymore? Nothing had changed, yet everything had. I could feel it.
I tuned in to their energy, but it was too powerful for my sensitive nature so I shied away. From a safer distance, I peeked out cautiously from behind my inner fortress to listen and sense their power, our power and creative force. It was alive and intelligent as if it knew what it was doing. Yet why were people prone to unpredictable acts of violence that made me cower in the shadows at the merest feeling of it, keep silent so as to not cause trouble and please to prove I didn’t deserve to be beaten? It didn’t make sense. Any intelligent life form would die out due to natural selection if it resorted solely to violence. While it had its place in the natural order of things, bullies seldom maintained their ‘stardom’ for long. That much made sense. For probably the first time in my life I didn’t feel like everyone was out to get me.
My heart softened and my sight grew clearer. What had been the rejects, failures and dregs of society now became an ordinary bunch of people who’d gone through some of the same things I was going through – but they just hadn’t made it. A force gripped me so strongly leaving no doubt I’d judged them wrongly yet again. So how was I different from them? A mind-blowing awareness stopped me dead in my tracks. For thirty-nine years I’d been trying to make it without ever knowing what it was. For some unknown reason, it was some marker of distinction that separated the men from the apes, but what if it didn’t exist? What if everything I’d been doing or told to do was wrong? I gasped as the shadowy entity moved aside to reveal the light of the sun. Its rays warmed the cold, shadowy caverns of my mind. It wasn’t about them, the Hastings Street people, or any other people for that matter. It was all about me: my false pride, failed expectations, judgments, resentments, reactions, yada, yada, yada. I didn’t want to be like them because then they’d be like me and I wouldn’t be special anymore. Sure I prided myself on my individuality (who didn’t?), but now it seemed to be working against me. I resented them for knowing, recognizing and making me question myself and my standards. I didn’t want to be found by ‘them’. I wanted to be found by…. I didn’t know what.
Huge tears fell from my eyes with little resistance. Incredible self-loathing and self-disgust at what I was doing hit home. Of all the things to cry about, I was crying about not liking where I was in the pecking order of things. People were dying in the world, being raped, murdered, beaten and tortured and I couldn’t handle being less than what I thought I should’ve been. How much more time and energy could this coward waste on such useless fucking thoughts? If I had any balls at all I’d have got up and screamed, made a scene, anything. But I hadn’t and I didn’t.
So, they hadn’t really been doing anything to me at all. They were just there, God’s emissaries recording failed expectations and wounded pride amongst things. They were just … just more real than me. My mind raged. Real didn’t get me places, buy me things or get me known! The cosmic mirror turned and in it I saw how a path to nowhere led nowhere. Whimpering, I wrapped my arms around me. Hoping to salvage a more preferable outcome, an incredible idea came to mind. What if I could find out what made them real, then, perhaps, they’d accept me or at least tolerate me for some length of time. Sure I’d have to get to know them, but how bad could it possibly get? It smelled of manipulation, but I hoped they’d be wise enough to handle whatever I thought I was getting away with if I couldn’t.
© Michael J. Varma, The Gong Show, 2011 –
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