I’m that Tired Guy, the one sitting in front of the computer screen wearing little more than boxer shorts and a white t-shirt. I’m that Tired Guy clinging to the one brain cell left in my cerebral cortex like a castaway upon a shard of wood in the midst of a turbulent sea.
My eye is the beholder.
So is yours.
What I see I know, I think, I feel, I ascribe, prescribe, analyze and criticize. Aristotleans will tell you to ignore your senses, seek the golden mean and pass the dutchie pon the left hand side. Foucault has his pendulum, Occam (well William) has his razor and Scooby has his Doo. Left is right and right is wrong, democrats feed republicans the beefsteak of economic calamity or the makings of a politically incorrect atomic bomb and Michael Stipe’s rally cry includes a birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean…BOOM!
Still, is there really a plan? Geddy says so…
All is for the best
Believe in what we’re told
Blind man in the market
Buying what we’re sold
Believe in what we’re told
Until our final breath
While our loving Watchmaker
Loves us all to death
(Well ok, not really. The musical outcry from RUSH pokes a fine hole or three through organized religion since we really are just mindless, blindfolded sheep anyway right?)
Who cares about a plan. Aren’t we all in it for the parting gifts anyway? Because it’s about what’s next, not what’s now.
In my eye I viewed death one way, and then quite suddenly, my life changed for both the worse…and then the much better. At that point I and my eye saw eye-to-eye, for once agreeing, but only after some serious stuff went down when I failed to see what was right before my eyes.
(The eyes do have it.)
Let’s get serious.
When my mother lost her battle with cancer in 1994 I obsessed about death day and night. I wondered when I would die, how it would happen, would I be remembered for being a good man, a bad husband, a horrible underwriter or just a creative fool with lots of talent and no focus. It frightened me so much I would wake up in the middle of the night bathed in a cold sweat imagining the shade of my mother was present in the room, eyes full of a deep sadness, of dreams unrealized and lost hopes.
My insides clenched, my mind whirled and while my peer group of twenty-somethings dreamed of becoming wealthier thirty-somethings I was wondering if the cancer would come calling earlier than most. Teeth grinding, shoulders hunched, head hanging low and confidence weak I sloughed through each day beneath a dark miasma of my own making.
I have a tale to tell
Sometimes it gets so hard to hide it well
I was not ready for the fall
Too blind to see the writing on the wall
I found some solace in the imaginative and creative. Back then I was an avid gamer, Dungeons and Dragons to be specific, and spent my Saturday evenings with a small knot of similar malcontents hacking, slashing, spouting and shouting pithy epithets that would make even the most Shakespearean soul proud…or at the very least imitate some poor man’s pulpy method acting.
But the specter of death was always present, hiding behind the curtain, ready to pounce.
Is full of surprises
This lasted for years. I tried to rationalize my fear, intellectually arguing the real issue was my mother had died far too young, but I still had plenty of time. My depression was insidious though and while I could hide from it for a time at work or in a role-playing game it wormed its way into my heart and mind so completely I almost believed it was my fate to fall down those stairs fairly soon.
Sadly my marriage to the first Mrs. Tired Guy didn’t help matters much. Something was always wrong between bitter arguments at home, or simply sullen silence. I lived alone in a house of two. She was going one way, I another and the twain never met again. Two strangers living under the same roof, spiraling away from one another, our so-called unshakable matrimonial bond unraveling inexorably, lost, lonely, loathsome and distinctly crushing. And how blind I was to it all, refusing to see the end until it hit me between the eyes that fateful February night when my world fell apart.
Afraid of feeling nothing
No bees or butterflies
My head is full of voices
And my house is full of lies
I’ve mentioned before in this space how I stared into that yawning abyss and contemplated the unthinkable. I cobbled together my fleeing sense of self and remembered there was more to me than just me, and stepped away in time. Thank goodness for boneless barbecue ribs and fried rice!
What I failed to mention was the other piece to that story, something just as integral to the life I’ve lived since, and the realization there was so much left to do.
My obsession with death wasn’t about my mother dying young at all.
It was about the impending death of my marriage.
My subconscious was clearly trying to show me what everyone else around me had clearly seen for years.
Back in February the first Mrs. Tired Guy had announced, “I’m not in love with you anymore. Our marriage is a lie.”
She was right, of course.
And while it took a few weeks for it to finally settle in, that awful truth crystallized, clarified and cauterized my wayward vision. Gone was the constant anxiety, the dizzying worry something bad was coming around the bend ready to wreck my world.
I could finally see clearly again.
The shade of my mom would finally find rest.
And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.