Friday, September 18, 2009
I perform my own stunts. Trust me, through large parts of my life I would have loved to employ a stunt double and perhaps someday I will. Take my depressions - please. It was around the time I was in seventh grade that I had a profound sense that I wanted to return to the planet that I was born on, any planet but this one. I was small and skinny with glasses and had a nerdy personality.
A nerd is an individual not smart enough to be a geek.
Every morning, I had to steel myself to get on that bus to school. Ours was the second to last stop, which meant I wound up standing in the aisle, fair game for young sociopaths in the making, the type of people who grow up to become Charles Manson or talk radio hosts (it's hard to tell the difference). Then, again, for all I know, they are now working for Habitat for Humanity.
My inner immune system invented its own respite from the terror of school and the outside world. Just when I knew I could not ever possibly board that bus one more time, my body would give out on me. My throat would constrict and flare up, my nose would heave up great gobs of green bloody snots, and I would cough the cough of the dead.
Then the healing would start. There in bed, or on the couch under a million blankets shivering in a sweat-induced micro-climate of Vicks Vapo-rub fumes, my strength would come back. Slowly. Over several days, a week, more. Then one day I would get out of bed and get dressed, too far behind in my school work to ever really catch up, but nevertheless ready to take what the day offered, one day at a time.
That 12-year-old me gave rise to the 13-year-old me, which eventually gave rise to the adult me. So ...
What if the present me could go back to that 12-year-old? Imagine how different my life would have turned out. Say I had one minute - 60 seconds - to spend with with that confused kid? Would would I say?
No time for a candid heart-to-heart. My message would have to be cryptic, like a Zen koan, something that made no sense, but would lead to an earth-shaking revelation upon further consideration. So imagine if the 12-year-old me had the benefit of the wise counsel of the present me, and I appeared to him in his moment of need, like the disembodied Obe Wan Kinobe to Luke Skywalker.
“John,” I would say, in a voice brimming with compassion. “Remember - Hannibal never won a battle with his elephants.”
Therein lies the key to healing.
Wait! Hold on. ... A buried memory is coming up. Holy crap! Now I remember! The present me really did visit the 12-year-old me, and this is what he actually said:
“John. Remember - Hannibal never won a battle with his elephants.”
Son of a bitch! What kind of idiot thing is that to tell a 12-year-old?