Running on Empty
If I could make it to Stanley Park alive, I’d be able to call on the energies of Mother Earth to help me deal with the pursuing dark forces – or at least die trying. Escape had become so instinctual, so normal it was an art form. While a valuable tool in its own right, it was used at the expense of others.
In spite of this, it was with a finger-licking delight I teased and manipulated ‘them’ with the only thing I believed they were really after, namely my soul. Unlike before, I now had an actual destination to go. Goading ‘them’ on, I twisted and turned corners, whistled and sang down alleyways, crept through parking lots and skirted gardens with the stealth of a cougar – at least in my mind anyway. Harmonizing my senses; eyes, ears, nose and body unified into a new level of sensory perception that so-called ‘normal’ life had all but flat-lined. The thought I wasn’t being hunted whispered in the mind, but self-worth and identity were too entrenched in being disliked.
Disappointment reared its ugly head: what was the use of running and being ready to fight without an enemy? To a pounding heart perception pulsed out a haunting truth: did I want to know, did I want to know, did I want to know? I wanted to stop running and see if I really was being chased, but the risks were just too great. Eyes leered at a man carrying shopping bags. Unable to decipher ploy from pretense, lack of attention made me feel insignificant. As my stare provoked his aura, he turned gracefully in my direction then smiled. Struggling to interpret it as love or uncaring, I made peace with the fact I was at least worthy of being seen. My heart cracked open; the playing field of life leveled. Before me was a simple man with his own struggles and cross to bear.
Silence permeated the senses. Was I both witch and hunter in my own witch hunt? Nor knowing why I’d do that to myself, my anti-climactic escape to the park forced me to readjust my self-fulfilling prophecy: ‘they’ were marshaling forces to ambush me in one last big battle in the depths of the woods. Laughing at the epic nature of my dramas, I kept to the open trails, head hung low before slipping unnoticed into the bush. Weary, yet alert, a log provided cover from all but the most prying of eyes. I slowly passed out from mental exhaustion.
Awoken by the need to pee, I rethought going in my pants by blaming God for creating something so stupid as the act of elimination. If I were God no one would have to pee. If I were God no one would have any discomfort, any shame, any thing! But I wasn’t – thank God! Suddenly, the distinct sound of grinding gravel conjured up images of cars and tanks. Daring to look, two bikes went by side by side. Struggling to discern if they were innocent riders or plain-clothed scouts patrolling the area, I ducked down with a gasp. Not knowing how to trust a mind out of sync with feelings, I laid back down and passed out again.
Awaking with my teeth literally on the verge of floating, I pushed anxiety aside and made a run for it. Although someone was in the distance – someone was always in the distance – so I threw caution to the wind and made a stand by relieving myself right there on the spot. “This has to end,” I emphatically stated, seeing the inevitable futility of running endlessly. As relief came to an end, the sound of branches snapping underfoot sent me scurrying through any opening that would accommodate me. A few minutes later, I slowed down, tired from the misery, shame and cowardice of mindless running.
There’d always be people, things and noises from people and things, so what was the use in running period? And why was I always running away from and never towards? In a vision I saw a child running out of fear, desperation, loneliness and aloneness. My heart groaned to a halt and exploded at seeing I felt no love in my life.
As day became night and sun turned to moon, I turned a bend in the road. I thought I heard voices. Unsure if they were out to get me, I ran, tripped then collapsed and awaited my punishment, my death. It didn’t come.
Exhausted, I dragged my heels to a bench and turned myself over to fate. A man sat down, but I refused to budge. Then I told him what was going on with me as best I could. To my surprise he told me Kurt had a part to play in whatever was going on – that it wasn’t all my responsibility. Thankful and humbled, I scribbled my forgiveness on a scrap piece of paper and handed it to someone who looked like Kurt, yet didn’t. But I couldn’t turn back now. Either way, the Universe would appreciate the effort – any effort – even if he couldn’t.
Seated on a warm moss-covered log, sunbeams fell from the heavens lighting the forest below in religious symbolism. Air currents and birdsong added depth to an otherwise dimensionless, monotone photograph called my lonely addicted life. Inhaling as if drawing my last cigarette, I thanked the Universe for allowing me one last moment in time to experience such splendor. Light-hearted and battle-weary, nature’s simplistic beauty was so lovely I wanted it to last a lifetime. I longed for life.
© Michael J. Varma, The Gong Show, 2011 –
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