Unlike before when the sound of crushing gravel and snapping twigs underfoot brought fear of the hunt, it now gave a sense of connectedness. Holding it like a hot potato, relief became power became dominance. Torn between relinquishing control and vanishing from the earth realm altogether and the triviality of holding dominion over gravel, I surrendered to my true feelings.
Light-footed and alert, I stepped onto the trail. Up ahead, an older man approached; his frozen face a sign of frail humanity. Saddened to see him locked away so deep within himself, I smiled to assure him that whatever he was up to was more than okay by me – as long as he left me alone. I used to be where he was, scared, yet excitedly unsure of what to expect around each bend. He returned a smile, but I chose not to let it take hold and walked away; simply happy in the fact that he didn’t want to kill me.
Not yet ready to face public scrutiny or the din of oncoming traffic, I dallied behind a large cedar tree that stood tall and proud near the entrance way. Mustering my courage, I took a deep breath and hurriedly crossed the road towards civilization. With no real destination in mind, I paused to check out the natural scenery of wind, sun, nature, ducks, swans and squirrels that stood in stark contrast to the dreary, black, white and grays of before. Feeling vindicated I found refuge in my sarcasm: ‘You have been found guilty of being human, Mr. Varma. You now have two choices, which one do you choose?’ ‘Er, this one your honor (meaning the immensity of nature).’ ‘Very well then, it’s yours. Now do the work.’
And with those words sentence was pronounced without apparent punishment. Of course, why hadn’t I thought of it before? No one could punish like I punished myself. No one knew how to get to me like I did. No, only I could take hatred, loathing and belittlement and expertly apply them like putty to the cracks off my ruined self. In a blazing revelation I saw how society had it all wrong. The torment of being an addict was punishment enough. But what then was the real crime?
On the overpass, a couple of swans glided by barely marking the water at all. Their graceful movements were so unlike the tidal waves of my approval and attention seeking. Why couldn’t my life be graceful like theirs? Maybe that was what my new-found freedom was all about? I didn’t know, but I wanted to know.
A deep breath of fresh-scented textured air sent me into a trance. Alert, yet at peace, I walked on grass so slowly and softly as if caressing Mother Nature herself. I let myself go and relished in the breathtaking visual feast the subtle hues of nature provided. A sea of green hues reached out to touch me in ecstasy. If this was the true healing function of nature, I liked it; I liked it a lot!
Feeling the need to move on, I cursed my inability to cherish the moment. Before me people, cars, paved roads, dogs and the outskirts of civilization forged senses into stinging uneasiness. Forcing the civilized polluting from my system, I readied myself for the alleys ahead.
The thick the noise of Denman Street seeped into my being, polluting mind and sending feelings swirling. A chill ran down my spine. I looked up to see a dark, sketchy cloud of black pollution covering the city. As if in a dream, the reality of the situation hit home: noise, pollution and my uneasiness were interconnected in a bio-feedback tapestry. I hung my head low, in sad recognition of the part I played in its manifestation just like everyone else.
Through the vertigo, I grasped onto a railing. Why had we let it happen? Why couldn’t we see what we were doing to ourselves, nature and the planet? As vehicles honked, mufflers roared, garbage trucks roared, dogs barked and people laughed, talked and screamed at one other to an ear-splitting crescendo, the answer became abundantly clear: we were not aware. ‘Forgive them Lord, they know not what they do’ was as relevant then as now. ‘Wake up! Wake up people,’ I mentally screamed, but quickly recoiled not wanting to add to the problem.
Yet something had changed! The noises were no longer in my head, but out there. Afraid I’d transferred my madness onto the rest of the world my heart split in two. All I’d ever wanted was to belong, but even with peace of mind, I couldn’t win. I gave up. What was the use in trying anymore?
A reprisal of slow murmuring voices startled me into the present, but I pretended not to hear them. On the inside, a frightened child ran for his life, but it didn’t hold the same terror as before. Amidst their fears, pain and anguish, I managed to maintain a sense of separateness and along with it a new understanding. I had an idea: if I could get the voices back, then the rest of the world would be left alone. They didn’t deserve to suffer because of my foolish mistakes. Maybe Spock was right when he said: ‘the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few or the one‘.
© Michael J. Varma, The Gong Show, 2011 –
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