In my life, I have lost my sanity a few times:
- at age five, when I realised I was alone in the universe and had to create my own version of something to make sense of the cluelessness around me
- at age ten, when my best friend/girlfriend died, leaving me more alone than ever
- twice in high school, when my girlfriend broke up with me and, more significantly, after I suffered a head concussion in a car wreck
- at age 23, when I, against all the teachings of my youth (especially the one about coveting a married woman), made love to a married woman
- at age 27, when I cracked under the pressure of having to appear on television to promote a community project I created, sensing a number of contradictions within my personality that was perceptible on live TV and out of my control once it was broadcast to whomever was watching
- at age 44, when my brother in-law died
I return to a familiar place on this path through life — a crossroads that branches off to unknown destinations.
I feel like I am being ripped apart, with tendrils/roots from my past pulling on me to give people I’ve known the affirmation that the lives we shared contained and shall continue to create happy times.
I’m always looking for an easy escape route from every moment I spend with other people, knowing that eventually the internal insanity that has defined me since I can remember will show itself — the disjointed, at-odds-with-itself set of thoughts that have kept me alive and in touch with people who, God help them (I’ll get back to that last phrase in a moment), are probably just as fucked up as I am but I sure as hell don’t want to know, allowing myself the illusion that other people have it together.
One girlfriend said knowing me was like peeling back layers of an onion and she was never sure what she’d find next, as protective I was in controlling people’s access to the “real” Rick.
Do I always know what I’m doing? Rarely. But I know where I want to be and have plans to get there.
Otherwise, the “real” me is an illusion, changing moment by moment to passively accommodate people’s perceptions of me so I can reach my goal while giving them whatever makes them happy.
What if giving them whatever makes them happy contradicts certain parts of me that are partially set in stone?
I know I am insane to think I am alone in this universe which, God help me (okay, time to address that last phrase — if I alone in the universe, then, by extension, there is no deity other than myself for myself, leaving others to find the deity belief sets in them that satisfy their needs for self affirmation?), leaves me with zero friends because if friends are merely sets of states of energy to bounce against like pinballs to get us moving again, well…
I am caught between seeing that I am a nice-enough looking guy who makes many people feel comfortable in my presence and thus able to believe I will help them affirm their beliefs, and seeing that what I want may not make many people happy.
One girlfriend, when I finally was able to share with her the dystopian visions that haunt me and chase me constantly, wondered why I was such a joyful guy on the outside but such a hard-nosed, scared-to-death conservative type on the inside. We discussed the whole fight-vs-flight concept and, despite my best (worst?) efforts to want to control the conversation, I let the girlfriend dissect my view against my deepest desires not to hear what she saw in me. She finally agreed that I was more fucked up than she was, taking strange theories, mixing them up in a cosmic comic worldview and applying them to my own fears and aspirations without concern that they made no sense in the real world.
It didn’t stop her from wondering what having a child with me would be like, able to compare the two kids she already had against one we could have. A couple of days after we agreed to stop seeing each other (after all, I was banging her best friend, too (the aforesaid married woman), which made the both of us feel a little guilty (okay, maybe not too much; more like we should do the decent thing and call it off before her best friend found out)), she had sex with a guy she’d just met and ended up pregnant. Because the guy professed his love for her without question and he was one of the heirs to a bread company fortune, she told me that even if the baby was mine, she was going to call it his; I happily agreed because it was sure going to be an affirmation of my worldview that nature-vs-nurture is a false dichotomous construct about childrearing and I didn’t have to worry about paying child support (I was a broke college student at the time).
As an opportunist looking for escape routes living in my thoughts, I recently plotted out a course of action whereby the possibilities of hitting the eject button on my current marriage might be facilitated by solidifying relationships with a dance partner; thus, I saw the person I liked laughing and dancing with the most, heard her say that her beau was looking for someone to join a fraternal organisation with and told myself, well, if it makes him happy that I join the organisation with him then I might get more time to dance with her and from there, who knows.
Damn it if the fraternal organisation’s requirements, including a main one about hosting a belief in a deity hasn’t put a burr in my side and, in the process, turned me into my father and his more conservative/religious views.
I know that portions of my personality were formed from contact with my father and I have fought tooth-and-nail internally to reject those portions because of the compromises I had to make to protect myself from his passive-aggressive treatment of my mother, sister and me, hearing from his colleagues, friends and family, however much I don’t want to, how kind and considerate but opinionated my father was and how so many people from my past want to welcome me into the fold now that I, as a legacy, have joined my father’s fraternal organisation and cemented my place in that subculture.
I am a mixed-up dude and I know it.
I’ve never been forced by a child of mine in my household to construct a consistent view of the universe in an effort to give that child the best opportunities for success with an easily-repeatable narrative about how/why life is.
I have been able, instead, to successfully slide through life, hopping from one better-paying job to another, accumulating wealth along the way without giving the shirt off my back, to arrive here in this comfortable middle-class hovel in the woods, always having an escape plan at the ready should something I had imagined happen (for the unexpected, I am probably completely unprepared).
I don’t know what my very next step will be, except to take the bathmat out of the clothes washer that the cat had pooped on and hang it up to dry (the bathmat, not the cat (or the poop)).
I still want to get to the Moon and then on to Mars and dance in low-gravity conditions with my literary characters Guin and Bai.
Whether I join reality or whether reality gets in the way, I cannot say.
If I don’t even know if sanity is an illusion, how can I know if reality is real?