Weighing the pros and cons of life and death wasn’t easy. Actually it seemed paradoxical that to end life required so much energy and willpower. I thought the opposite was true. But I guess there was a delicate balance or else it’d never happen. Too much: the energy could be put to use in other redeeming ways, while too little: I’d simply be too apathetic to even try. And if all I was doing was projecting then chances were the outcome would be different than the intended goal anyway. Lost and unwilling to venture down that, or any other, rabbit hole any further, I reached into my backpack and retrieved a small pocket-knife. Another paradox: the tool intended for survival was going to be used for my death. It didn’t make sense unless something else survived like a meme for example. Either way, I felt absolutely exasperated.
I unfolded it, careful not to cut myself in the process. The feeling that something else was going on resonated in the depths.
Tears burst forth, thick, salty and laden with lifetimes of regret from the depths of my tormented soul. Contemptuous thoughts percolated to the surface. Thought: my mother would have to live with it plain and simple. Heart: “I’m sorry mom. I’m sorry. I never meant for any of this to happen. I’m a good kid, but something seems to be wrong that I can’t fix – nobody can. I love you mom. We’ll meet again, you know, in heaven, in another lifetime or wherever we end up. I’ll make sure of that. I love you, I love you….”
With the knife pointed at my heart, I cried apologies to friends and family alike who I’d shut out of my life because I wanted to protect them from seeing me in such a decrepit state. Now nothing but memories of an addicted, homeless and shame-filled person unable to find his place in the grand scheme of things would remain. Yet time healed all wounds. As for the street kids, someone else would have to look after them now. I’d tried my best to befriend and defend them in spite of my madness and sexually inappropriate ways. What more could anyone ask for? If things could’ve been different, I would’ve stuck around and helped them even more, but now it didn’t matter. I’d hardly had the chance to get to know them, but even yet that’d work in their favor: being a statistic among statistics I’d be hardly missed. Finally, Tom would have to find his teachings elsewhere. If anything, in the short time we’d spent together, I’d taught him what not to do. Yes, even my death would be an example: take my life and do anything but follow it and success was almost a guarantee. Sarcastic to the bitter end.
Slipping away; voices murmured their discontent in the far recesses of my mind. ‘Is he going to do it?’ ‘No, he’s too much of a coward.’ ‘Shut up, I think he means it this time.’ ‘I don’t want to die!’ ‘Mike what about life?’ ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it….’
How strange that in my moment of death, those that barked the loudest whimpered the most. “Where were you when I needed you”, I questioned eyes aflame, but no answer was forthcoming. Cowards, that’s all they’d been, and I’d been gullible enough to listen to them all along. But no more! I shook my head in disgust.
Scared, I gently pushed the knife into my clothing little by little in a dress rehearsal of what to expect. Tears numbed the sharp pain that dissipated over the area of clothing. Even death followed the laws of physics: pressure inversely proportional to the area. Why couldn’t I just do it and get it over with? What if I didn’t do it right, what then? It wasn’t like I had a track record of doing things right! I pushed again and again, dull knife against outer fabric against inner fabric and seemingly into skin. But something was missing. Oh yes, the proverbial cigarette: a fitting end to a life ruled by TV and Hollywood scripts. But now my show had been cancelled.
I took out a cigarette, lit it and savored it with forgotten enthusiasm.
The sun immediately brightened. Bedazzled by golden hues, a palette of living earth tones rejuvenated vision to a symphony of natural orchestrations. Inhaling, air rich and alive with intoxicating flavor forced me to cough and splutter. Inhalation after inhalation, I drank to near inebriation from nature’s sweet bouquet. So this was the poetic reference to nature being like wine. How divine, how wonderful, how timely.
The funny thing was the here and now was exactly where it was supposed to be: here and now! It had always been here – multiple dimensions occupying the same point in space! I couldn’t see it – not because it was invisible, but because I didn’t know how or what to look for and didn’t believe it really existed.
A flood of emotions and memories surged as I floated back to me, knife in hand. Unsure of where it had come from, soft voices asked me how I felt. “Wonderful, wonderful,” I replied. ‘Eat, drink, taste, smell and feel again. It’s all yours.’ My eyes streamed tears of joy. Was it really all mine? Really? Somewhere, somehow, I felt accepted, loved and at peace like I’d finally arrived home to family who actually wanted me. Guilt still nipped at me for not following through, but it wasn’t able to pierce the membrane of good memories that had always been there. I’d either chosen not to see it or had covered it with so much garbage that it couldn’t be seen.
Through a contented sigh, a slight nudge brought me into the present. Cigarette in hand, I turned to see the other hand with the knife against my chest. I crash-landed with the stark realization of what I’d been trying to do.
My life flashed before my eyes. Yet instead of all bad stuff, now good things appeared. Things I’d forgotten, never paid attention to or never registered as having any significance. Rekindled by warm feelings I wasn’t so bad after all! And for better or worse no one else needed to know. My life and my fate were in my own hands, between me and the Universe.
I shook my head at my pitiful games centered on approval seeking and the need to impress others. Would ‘they’ approve of my death? Would ‘they’ be impressed by my death? Some would, some wouldn’t, some would be indifferent. But now nothing anyone else thought or felt about my life mattered – it never had. How could I have let a thing like addiction and a mere substance beat me when I had God on my side and access to power unimaginable? Now I had a choice of whether to be deceived and potentially risk doing the same things over again in another lifetime or face up to the here and now and finish them in this one. Even if I couldn’t finish them, I could at least lessen the blows to come. I sat alone, humbled.
The cigarette burnt down to the filter. I threw it to the ground and stamped it out. Then the midday horn sounded.
Being a curious cat, I turned to the energies to decipher the message hidden within the synchronicity of the cigarette ending and the horn blowing. Something had changed. Now the ground, trees, grass, logs and even the air were alive with expression and presence – even consciousness.
I sat in awe.
In the background, something profoundly loud drowned out all other sounds. Thinking I’d gone deaf, I focused all my energy into that one sense until a comforter of warmth wrapped itself around me. The deafening sound rose to awareness as the sound of silence!
Trust didn’t come easy to a mind consumed in a whirlwind state of tormenting voices for over three months. But with the lure too great I became a willing fish to its bait. I used to love silence; I still loved it. It had a tone and beauty unto that no noise could ever mimic. With only the natural sounds of the park audible, everything came to life. I felt alive! The inner peace of the forest brought life into every fiber and cell of my being. Paradoxically there was no struggle, only being.
Trick of the devil or not, I wanted to find out for myself whether I’d been handed a reprieve or not. I put the knife back in my pocket and wiped my eyes.
© Michael J. Varma, The Gong Show, 2011 –
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