Midsummer Nightmares

Once upon a time,

A boy looked for happiness and security everywhere but within himself. He was persistent, and he was disciplined. Everything the boy tried he succeeded at, and not just succeeded, but was an outlier from his peers. The fierce competitiveness, the inherent physical ability, the enviable mental fortitude of the boy was none more than a masquerade, because little did anyone know the boy actually loathed himself. No matter how fast he ran; no matter what the results showed; the boy always felt he was not good enough, not thin enough, his nose too pointy, his cheeks too rosy, his clothes too common, and his status all too nonexistent. On the pinnacle of greatness, of achievement equal to the American dream the boy collapsed under the pressure of self-doubt and spiraled into a shadow so insidious that he turned to every masochistic practice you could imagine–most entering his system in the form of substance, so that for, if just a little while, the boy could relax and feel at home and comfortable within his own mind and body. The boy mocked the establishment; he scoffed at the grand plan the world had told him was essential to a functional happy life. The boy was right, but for the wrong reasons, and for that he was a prisoner.
The decade following the great descent of this bright young lad left a wake of destruction as he cascaded onward on his vessel of deceit. He tried it all. He filled the hole inside himself with money, sex, drugs, alcohol, car accidents, crime sprees, and death–yes… even death, both physical and metaphysical.

On one dark night, say about 12 years back, the boy stood upon the railing of a great bridge crossing the San Diego Bay from Logan Heights to Coronado. That may have been the first time he realized what he was, or what he’d become, or what he was to become if he didn’t make the plunge then. Not many folks know this, but that bridge shakes–it rocks and creeks like an unstable branch in the wind. Not a soul crossed the bridge in those few minutes that he stood on the k-rail looking down at the black glass surface of the bay just beyond his feet–the dizzying feeling was intoxicating, like a demon in a fever dream whispering in the most persuasive, or maybe pervasive, manner, “Jump,” it says with a hiss between the J and the U. But that night the wind felt differently about this young boy’s future, and with a great big inhale it blew out a large gust knocking the naive fool flat on his ass in the middle of the lane in front of the parked car he’d driven up in. He tasted the salt in the air, and felt the dank sea wrapping around his clammy emaciated body. He got back in his car and drove away.

Eleven years later, almost to the day, the man stood against a rail at the Broadway pier watching the sun melt into a giant pot of gold, taking the place of the sea, and all manner of coherent thought melted with it. The beads of sweat evaporated in the heat of the magnificent sight before his very eyes. In the decade following his revelation on the bridge the boy had dared to dream, and dared to love, and dared to have his heart broken, and dared to love again. He had jobs, and careers, and college education, and travelled all over the country pursuing his dreams. He’d lived in accordance with the rules of society, and he’d had bouts of faith, followed by even stricter bouts of doubt. He’d given up the magnificent hedonistic freedom of drug addiction for the unparalleled disciplined freedom of being a functional productive member of society–for a while. Eventually, that disciplined functional productive freedom began to feel more like a coy formality. As he grew up he started to trust his judgments. He studied existential philosophy searching for a truth, for a meaning, and for a why. And one day he came to the conclusion that he was lost, and that “the greatest distance in the world lies between how it is and how we thought it was going to be.” He felt cheated.

And so here he stood, on the brink of insanity overlooking the bay, laughing maniacally at the gravity he lent to the status-quo. Cackling at his terror of being judged, terrified enough that he’d turn in his dreams for a cubicle in a rat race. Which, I might add, there is nothing wrong with. But for the man before us, that was the answer to a question that he never asked. It was the answer to someone else’s question. At that moment something snapped inside his brain. It was as if he’d experienced the formation of a black hole within himself. The magnificence.

Published by saftythird

Defying convention

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