Like the Song Says, “Money, Money, Money!”

I’m watching, again tonight, as the chronic pain patients go nuts. Not that I blame them. But I have been monitoring things, and I’ve yet to see any of them identify the actual cause of all the chaos.


That is the driving problem behind what’s happening with the doctors, and with the government. Money. As yielded by the insurance companies, and the drug makers. Here. This is what I’m trying to say. And this is the tip of the iceberg.

Another example?

And, in the ongoing conflict with the chronic pain patients, and the medical community, this topic is somehow completely missing. I find that fascinating in a capitalistic society that follows the rules of supply and demand. Let’s be blunt here. Opioids, right now, cost oceans of money. It’s not that there’s no supply. It’s that there’s oceans of demand. It’s that demand is skyrocketing, far outstripping the ability to make it, and that drives the price up, like a rocket was tied to it.

I’m not against the chronic pain people. I’m not. I support them in their arguments. But, until they target the actual cause of this entire fiasco, nothing will change.

Money, money, money. When the cost becomes as visible as the opioid costs have become, that’s when all hell breaks loose.

Ford and GM are making money right now. The result? If they close down sedan manufacturing, and bump up trucks and SUVs, that makes more money. Yes, people get laid off. Yes, plants get closed. Yes, local economies take it in the shorts. But, none of that matters, because the money shows it’s the right thing to do. The money matters.

Further. Why do GM and Ford not have such a good track record on electric vehicles? Again. The money. The cost to become competitive in a new market is absurd. And. The new market size is a mystery right now. No one knows when the electric cars will take over. No one knows if Uber and Lyft, and others will result in the end of private vehicle ownership on a monstrous scale. No one knows if autonomous vehicles will take off, or when. And you literally can’t afford to invest in all of it, and pray you get your investments back.

That’s the free market thing again.

So, here we are with the “opioid crisis”. And no one’s talking about the driving force that is money. Businesses: Hi, I’m having people call out sick, ’cause they’re in no pain from abusing these drugs. Hospitals: Hi, we’re having people call out sick from abusing these drugs. The list goes on and on. It’s NOT pain patients that are the problem. It’s the money that’s the problem.

And the reason the money is a problem is because humans are not machines. And we live in a society where we have to be machines. And the number of people who find self medication methods to cope with the stress caused by such insanity is what’s driving the problem. And the problem’s grown large enough now that it’s become visible from a money perspective. And that’s where it all goes nuts.

So, the money is now taking actions to regain control of the spending, so the filthy rich can become more filthy rich. Or, as the old saying goes, “Money can be the root of all kinds of evil.” If you dig down to find the cause, sure enough, it’s humans doing what they have to do to preserve, and increase, the money they have.



Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/08/18

I stopped looking into mirrors ages ago. I use them only at tools now. To see to straighten my hair. To help with putting on the makeup this world demands I wear. But I don’t actually look into them. Because I know what I’ll see.

The last time I looked, I saw the chains. The chains that tie me here. In this house. In this image of who I am. Of how I am supposed to look, think, behave, act. Of what I can and can’t say.

That was the day I went to dinner with him. The day I saw the chains that bind him to his work, our house, our children, me, his parents, the people he works with, the people we go to church with. I saw all those chains.

I saw the chains that hold everyone. Each of us, bound in place. Free to roam about within the reach of the chains. But never free to leave. Free to sleep naked on the living room floor, in a spot of sunlight from the back yard. But not free to be seen by anyone. To be seen, the chains mean clothing. Appearances.

They were everywhere I looked. Everywhere I went. Attached to everyone.

I watched them yank him out of bed in the morning, drag him to the shower, to get him ready for work. I felt them drag me out of bed, and down the stairs to the kitchen, to fix him a breakfast, and a lunch he could eat at work. I watched the chains pull my children, my two sons, out of bed, out of their slumber, their peace, their dreams. And drag them through getting dressed, and cleaned up, their homework papers collected, their notebooks and textbooks packed in their backpacks. I saw the chains relax for a few moments, as they ate their breakfast. Then, the chains drug them along, through brushing their teeth, only to finally drag them outside, to the corner a few houses away, where the school bus picked them up.

The chains dragged me to the kitchen, made me wash the dishes, clean the sinks, clean the counters and the range. Then open the refrigerator, and make a list of what I had to buy at the grocery to get through the next few days. It wasn’t a decision. It wasn’t freedom. It was chains.

It was responsibility. Those things we each do to be functional in our society. Those things we have to do to even have a society. Mow the lawn. Wash the cars. Wash the laundry. Buy groceries.

The chains were everywhere I looked.

Except on the birds. Or the flowers. Or the spiders, or dragonflies, or rabbits. Those could come and go as they pleased. They could leave, if they wanted, go exploring, find a new place to live. A new place to sleep at night.

Since that day, I don’t look in the mirror anymore. And I take my pills each day. The ones I have to take so I can live with the knowledge that none of us are free. That everyone, every last one of us, lives in chains. And I wonder. Do we really know what we have done to ourselves? Or are we blind to the chains we have made?

Then, I felt the pull of the chains once more. It was time to make dinner, and have it ready for him when the chains returned him from his work. And the chains know what I must do to keep things working in our home. I try to see the chains exist for a reason. I know, without the chains, there would be chaos.

But many times, I wonder.

What would it be like to be free? And does anyone else know we are not?

663 words

This is written for Week 68 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/04/02

“Machines,” Tory muttered. “Don’t even know they are.” He shook his head, sighed. It was maddening, frustrating, infuriating, and the saddest, most awful thing at the same time. “Humans,” he crossed his arms on his desk, and rested his head on them. “Stupid, fucking humans. Don’t even know.”

There had been a time when he believed in other people. When he believed in the world. When the future looked good to him. He remembered it, burned into his memory forever, something he could never get rid of. Life would be much simpler if he could, which was most likely why he couldn’t. Life was never simple.

He sat back up and stared out the window, into the dark of night. “Normal people are asleep by now, you know that.” He always told himself such things. “Normal people actually can sleep at night.” Instead of having nightmares, and tossing and turning, and tearing the covers loose, and waking up coated in sweat, wondering why he felt like he’d run too far on a scalding hot day. And that dry, cardboard taste in his mouth. What was that all about. “Doesn’t happen to normal people.”

He knew why he couldn’t sleep. That’s when his brain cells were unrestrained. When all the rules, all the lines in the sand, all the social crap that kept him in check during the day, went away. And his brain thought what it wanted to, said what it wanted to, talked to him about all the crap that was life, all the shit people did because. Normal.

“Fucking robots.” Tory shook his head. “And don’t even know it.” He shook his head again, “And you can’t explain it to them. ‘Cause. Seeing things as they really are is against the rules.” He closed his eyes, and tried to smell the darkness of the night. “I wonder what time it is?” He was still up, because it was better than going to sleep, and letting his brain do whatever.

“Mow the yard every Saturday morning, neighbor.” His next door neighbor was outside, from late February to late December, every Saturday morning, with that damn noisy lawn mower, making certain every fucking blade of Kentucky Fescue 31 in his lawn was the exact same height. Then there was pulling everything that wasn’t exactly the same. Every blade of grass had to be the same kind. All trillion of them. And the sidewalk, driveway, and curb had to have razor sharp edges. Not one blade of grass could reach over concrete. That would be a sin. Same thing with the flower beds. “Idiot spends $300 or more on mulch every year.”

Tory knew. “It’s an investment. I take care of it so it grows in value.” He knew why the neighbor wasted every Saturday. Just like why every car in the neighborhood was spotless. No dust. No dirt. No mud. No pollen. No scratches in the paint. “Shiney!” And his brain cells said, “That’s a $55,000 investment in my driveway.” An SUV with no dents, dings, or scratches, that never went off road, that slowed down for every bump, that almost stopped before making turns, and did stop for speed bumps. “I can’t hurt my baby!”

Fucking robots. That’s what people were. Nothing but robots. Programmed to want the same things. To want the same lives. To want more, and more, and more. And Tory wasn’t. Tory saw them for what they were. Saw the lie they lived. The lack of depth to their lives. Take the neighbor’s car, and house away, and he became nothing. “A failure,” that’s what they said. “A failure. Like Tory.”

Yeah, he knew. He knew what they thought, when they saw his yard, with dead leaves and weeds all over it. His car, with the chipped paint, and door dings, and in spring, the pine pollen shell that coated it. “Get with the program!”

That’s what it was. A program. A script. “A successful human is defined as follows.” Tory knew all the rules, all the supposed to do things. All the definitions of success. Of being a real person. And he knew it was all a lie.

Every last bit of it.

A lie.

“Stupid, fucking machines.”

Tory wondered when he’d finally wander off to try to sleep.

712 words

Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s fourth week. You can read about the challenge here. I’ve enjoyed writing for it every week so far. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.

#FlashMobWrites Week 1×33 : I’m Not An Angel In Disguise

I’m not an angel in disguise,
And the devil never made me do a thing,
Or told me what to say.
I’m just an angry, mortal man,
Made by our society’s hand,
And its ruthless,
Uncaring ways.

I’ll stalk the words others write,
The songs they sing,
The stories they tell,
The games the play.
And take each detail apart,
Analyze each word,
Each action,
Every note, motion, and way.
I’ll study each nuance of your ways,
Until I master the unique language
Only you speak.

The one you don’t even know is there.

Once I have that key to you,
Who you are,
How you think,
What you feel.
It won’t be long until I know what’s missing
In your world.

Then I’ll say the words I know
You want someone to say.
The words you’ve been waiting,
Someone would say.
Words to sweep you off your feet,
And carry you away.
Words you dream of in your sleep.

And you’ll let me in.

I’ll be your friend at first,
But gradually, with time, and effort,
Using what I’ve learned of you,
I’ll do the things you want me to.
And slowly, things will grow.

One day, you’ll start to talk to me.
Start to let me in.
I’ll become your confidant,
That someone whom you trust.
I won’t take advantage,
Or rush things along.
I have time.
I’ll wait for things to happen
On their own.

One day you’ll sit next to me,
As if you always had.
One day you will hold my hand,
And walk with me,
And talk with me,
So you won’t be alone.
I’ll learn the holidays that matter.
When your birthday is.
When to buy you a card,
Or flowers.
And step by step,
Day by day,
I’ll work my way into your world.
By being everything you want,
And everything you need.

I’ll be the one you dream of when you sleep.
The one you always wanted,
The one hold in his arms,
Where you feel safe from harm.

All it takes is patience on my part,
And you’ll let me in,
And give me everything I want.

Someday you might kiss me,
Then take me to your home.
I won’t have to ask,
You’ll guide me there
On your own.

Someday you might even
Take off all your clothes,
And pull me into bed with you.

And I’ll enjoy anything,
And everything,
You decide to do.

But if I ever hear you say
“I love you,” to me,
I’ll be gone with the rising sun.
And you’ll be on your own.

Isn’t that the way this life is?
Aren’t we meant to shred
The hearts and souls around us
Until every heart becomes
Colder than the coldest ice,
Harder than the hardest stone?

I’m not an angel in disguise,
And the devil never made me do a thing.
I’m just an angry, wounded soul
Whose heart died long ago.

491 Words

This is my entry into #FlashMobWrites 1×33, hosted by Ruth Long and Cara Michaels. Please, go read all the stories in for #FlashMobWrites 1×33. You might find something you like. But if you don’t read them, how will you ever know?


They keep me in this room, with no windows, black walls, floor, ceiling, and door., under fluorescent lights that never turn off. I don’t know how long I’ve been here. Here, there is no time.

There is an endless voice that always speaks of the good of the society, the body of humanity. Of how we are parts of that body, each part filling a need of the body. I know there was a time I didn’t believe. Now, I know someday I’ll believe every word.

I write with invisible ink, from an invisible pen, on invisible paper. I’m writing a book on the death of the individual, the rise of society, and the macro-organism humanity has become. I start over each time I write, for I can’t remember where I left off.

“There is no I. There is only we. There is no me. There is only us.” The voice goes on, endlessly. I stand in the middle of the room, hold my invisible conductor’s baton, tap it against my invisible podium, and conduct an invisible orchestra as they play Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. Or at least the small bits I can remember of it. I make up the parts I can’t remember as I go.

“Work for the good of all. Play for the good of all. Help all. Care for all.” Once I screamed for the voice to shut up. I put my hands over my ears, and sang songs to drown it out. I tried to tear my ears from my head so I couldn’t hear it anymore.

They tied my hands down. And the voice droned on. “The only joy is service. The only love is service. The only life is service.” I screamed. I kicked. I stopped eating, drinking, sleeping. I prayed for death. For release. For an end to the voice, the lights, the black everything. I prayed for freedom.

Until exhaustion captured me. Until it handed me to sleep.

Eventually, I stopped praying. I began to eat, and drink. I learned there was no escape. They freed my hands. And the voice droned on, “Like a body has cells, society has cells. We are those cells. Each with a different purpose. All working together for the good of the body. The good of the whole. For what benefits the whole benefits each part.”

I try sometimes, to remember the sounds of birds. The colors of flowers. The smell of a good meal. What it was like to walk beside the ocean. I always fail.

Someday, I will understand that voice. Someday that voice will take away everything I am. Everything I could have been. And I will become another cell in the body of humanity. Part of me sometimes wants to cry at that thought, as if something has been lost, though I can’t imagine what.

And all the while, that voice goes on.

480 Words

It’s April 10th, the 9th day of the 2015 A to Z Challenge. This is the 9th of 26 pieces I’m writing in April. Today, the letter I. Tomorrow, the letter J. I have no idea what I’ll write tomorrow.

This is also my entry into #FlashMobWrites 1×07, hosted by Ruth Long and Cara Michaels. Please, go read all the stories in this week’s challenge.

Happy [Expletive Deleted] Easter…

Welcome to Easter. One of those days classified as a holiday. One of those days filled with confusion, and chaos for me. Where I wonder if everyone ate an entire container of Nutella, and washed it down with a liter of white whiskey. Where I wonder, “What the fuck happened to everyone?”

Easter, where everyone dresses up funny, and goes to church. Even people who don’t go to church any other day of the year. Even people who don’t ever dress up, for any reason. And suddenly, every church parking lot overflows with cars, and church goers are show off new dresses, new suits, new shoes, and new haircuts.

Easter, where suddenly everyone starts saying, “Have a Happy Easter!”

And I end up hiding in my house, waiting for the insanity to end, wondering why people think I’m nuts when I don’t become someone I’m not on Easter Sunday. When I wonder if the guy who said, “Happy Easter!” to my trans woman friend means it, or is just being nice. When I wonder how he’s so kind to her one day a year, when the rest of the year he wishes she didn’t exist, and wonders how I can talk with her at all.

Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection, and how his blood washed away their sins. Then turn around on Monday, and declare, “Fag! I’m not selling you anything in my store! You people make me sick!”

Easter Sunday, where everyone does egg hunts, or does a gift exchange thing involving oceans of chocolate, and cards, and makes more of those things called good memories, as if they can’t make good memories on other days.

Easter Sunday, where countless stores that would be open for business on any other Sunday, aren’t open, and pretend it’s for the good of their employees. “We’re letting them have quality time with their families.” At least, that’s the politically correct statement businesses make. Except the ones that declare their Christian values, “Closed for Easter Sunday, because you need to go to church!”

Easter Sunday, when I wish God would protect me, because I don’t dare let anyone know I’m not having a good time. “Well, go somewhere and die, then! Don’t spoil my holiday!” And I get told, endlessly, directly, or indirectly, how I can’t be unhappy on Easter Sunday, of all days. “No matter how you feel, this is the day we celebrate being saved! Buck up, buddy boy, and get with the program!”

And my autistic self says, “What the fuck is going on with humans today? Did they all get brain transplants last night while they slept?” And I hide from life, praying for sanity to return. For normalcy to return. So people become themselves once more.

Easter Sunday. One day in a 365 day year. Just like any other day. Another Sunday, which always comes between a Saturday and a Monday.

What makes it different?

It’s a social thing, isn’t it. One of those social activities I don’t understand. Like Christmas, Labor Day, New Year’s Day, and all the rest. An event in the social calendar of the society I find myself living in.

And yes. I hear the words, every time I speak of the society I live within. “If you don’t like it, find another society, and get the fuck out of ours! We don’t need you!” But, the simple math states I would have the same problem in any given society. That’s what autism is.

So, I grit my teeth, and carry on, on a Sunday unlike all the rest, as best I can. And wait for Monday to arrive. Because I know on Monday, people will begin to behave once more, like they do every day, except on Easter Sunday, or the other holidays. Because I know, on Monday, people will be themselves once more. And I won’t have to hide inside, and wonder what the fuck happened to everyone.

Robin Williams Has Gone Home.

Things started off normal enough. CNN had a banner headline across the bottom of it’s feed that announced the breaking news was Robin Williams was dead at 63.

We were in the Jersey Mike’s Sub Shop. I couldn’t hear the news, the volume was off. All I got was the headlines, and any text on the screen. But that was enough. I knew, reading the words on the screen, all hell was about to break loose.

See. I knew how people would react to the news.

Just like I knew, in a few days, or maybe a week or two, the thing would blow over, and nothing would change. That’s how life is. That’s how people are. Things don’t change until there’s a reason for them to change.

Let me say that another way. If it was your spouse or lover that had ended their life, you’d change. But, because it was someone you only knew from a movie screen, or a TV screen, that wouldn’t change a thing. You’d say, “That’s too bad.” Then, “People should get the help they need. It’s there. They just have to ask.” Then, you wouldn’t say a thing, ‘cause it wouldn’t matter anymore.

Just like donating platelets or blood. If you best friend gets cancer, you’ll consider it. But only while they’re in Chemotherapy.

Did I mention I hate people?

I hate people.

I hate more, knowing that nothing will change. That time will pass, and another big name will commit suicide, and we’ll all go through these same motions again. And again. And again. And nothing will change.

It never has.

History’s littered with suicides of depressed, different people. Big names. Freddy Prinze. Curt Cobain. Robin Williams. Jimmy Hendrix (yes, a drug overdose is the same thing). You can name them yourself.

The first person that tells me how selfish those people were to kill themselves, or that they took the easy way out, I’m going to push all their teeth down their throat in one brutal move. All that shows is you’re stupid, and don’t understand a God damned thing, and don’t want to. You’re just being “social” and behaving according to some mythical rule set that we’re all supposed to follow.

See. I’m autistic.

That fucking rule set you can’t live without doesn’t exist to me. And I see stupid behavior everywhere I look. Every day. That’s why I’m in therapy. Not because I’m fucked up. But because the world’s fucked up, and I have to live in it.

I particularly love the commentary along the lines of, “If you’re contemplating suicide, get help! Talk to someone!” Helpful words. Like saying, “Here’s a cup of water. Hope you can put out the fire with it.”

Yes, if you haven’t noticed, I’m rather emotional on this topic.

Robin Williams escaped the hell he was in. And the first person that tells me it’s too bad he took his own life, and so he’s going to hell, I’m going to send that person straight to hell myself. Because you understand nothing. Nothing at all. Except what you WANT to understand.

Robin Williams escaped the hell he was in. A hell he never made. Do you think he caused his depression? Do you think he elected to be depressed? Do you think he elected to have no one to talk to? Do you think he elected to live where he lived, alone, or nearly so? Do you think he didn’t talk to anyone? That he didn’t seek help?

He did all those things. That you can’t understand why he ended his pain, and misery, and turned from the nightmare he saw everywhere, everyday, isn’t his fault. That you wonder why he ended his life indicates you’re part of the problem. Part of the reason 38,000+ people end their lives every year.

Find someone to talk to. OK. I did. I found a handful of people to talk to. Then, on October 11th, 2010, they told me I was not allowed in the same workplace as them. Then, on October 25th, 2010, they told me I was to not talk with any of them, even through smoke signals. No contact.

The people I needed. The ones I’d found to help me through my depression. Turned and walked away.

So shut the fuck up about this shit of, “Fiind someone to talk to.” Be honest about what the fuck you’re saying. You’re not saying find someone to talk to. You’re saying, “Send yourself to a psych ward, and talk to a bunch of clinical analysts, and other freakazoids like yourself, and when you’re normal, like us, maybe we’ll talk with you. But don’t bet on it.”

Think about that a while. Because that’s what your world tried to do to me.

What does it mean, what does it say, about the world, when the world says, “Find someone to talk to,” and doesn’t say, “So long as it’s not me. Leave me out of your disturbing shit. I don’t want to get involved. And quit disrupting my harmony! Go the fuck away!”

Because, let’s be honest here, that’s what our social system actually says. What it actually does. It’s like the prayer game. You know. Where everyone says, “I’ll pray for you,” and that’s all they do for you when you need help. “I’ll pray for you, and beyond that, go jump off a fucking cliff, ‘cause I’m not getting involved!”

Did I mention I hate people?

I hate people.

You want to know why Robin Williams killed himself? Because he saw things as they really, truly are. He saw past the lies our social system tells. He saw the misery our social system inflicts on people, especially people who are different.

See. Different equals disruptive. Knowledge equals disruptive. Independence equals disruptive. And we’ll remove anything disruptive from our social system, so it won’t gum up the works. As the song says, “Girls will be boys, and boys will be girls, it’s a mixed up, shook up, fucked up world. Except for Lola.”

You close your eyes. You pretend the world is OK. You imagine our society is functional. You pretend it’s sad when someone decided they’ve had enough, and leave. You get pissed off when they leave.

You get pissed off because you can’t. You’re still here. In a world you never made.

Shut the fuck up about all this. Nothing’s going to change. Don’t pretend it will. And if you pretend it will, then don’t get pissed off at me for recognizing it won’t. And look back, in a year or two, and see how things have changed because of this.

And yes. In case you’re wondering. I’ve donated platelets over 70 times now. And there will be more donations in my future. And Gina A Baker is long past her chemo therapy. Of course, for all I know, she could be dead. She’s one of the few friends I had that ordered me to go away on 10/25/2010. And I haven’t heard from her since.


I was disruptive.

And you know. We can’t have that shit in the working world. We can’t have that shit at all.


I Never Told Anyone

Today, at psychotherapy, I finally said something I’ve never said. And it’s something I need to get into the open. So, I’m going to put it here. My doctor said this is one of those things that older far beyond my years, and certainly was beyond my years when I said it the first time.

I can’t remember if I was in 6th or 7th grade. Yeah. That long ago. Dad had just finished a big project at his work, and I got to see the finished document he’d written. It was a stack of paper, notebook sized, a good inch and a half thick, maybe two. He was proud of it, and I knew to write something that size took a lot of time and effort.

But I heard my thoughts back then. It was years before I finished burying them. Back then, I’d just started burying things. And that day, I heard my terrified thoughts. The work he’d shared didn’t terrify me. Neither did his pride in having completed that work. No. What terrified me was what I saw in him, and the people he worked with.

They were all practically dead. In lives that didn’t change. On career paths. However you wish to define it. Every aspect of their lives matched a plan each of them had made years, perhaps decades, earlier. Many of them were in their 30s. As I watched them, I knew they would never really change. Never really do anything other than what they were already doing.

They’d stopped growing. Stopped changing. Stopped learning. Stopped exploring. They’d grown up, and there was no room in their lives for such childish pursuits. They had responsibilities.

If someone was a Marine, he’d stay a Marine. If Navy, they’d stay Navy. If civilian contractor, or civil servant, they’d always be that. If someone was an administrative assistant, they’d always be assisting someone.

It was the first time I understood how life in our social system worked. That’s what terrified me. And I heard my mind, screaming, “I’m not going to be dead at 30! I’m not going to be like them!”

Of course, I can say this all I want. I can share it. I can talk about it. But sharing it is useless, because, as I’ve said before, no one will understand. Oh, there will be some that understand. There always are, always have been, always will be. But many people will never understand what I saw that day, or how I felt about it.

My doctor and I talked about many things today, centered around that thought.

I told him if you ever want to see the true nature of someone, murder their smart phone. Break it, and watch what happens to them. Watch as they go crazy. “Do you know, there are guys out there, if their phone shuts off, and they can’t turn it on, I wouldn’t be surprised if they throw that sucker through the drywall.” Yeah. I said that.

“Same with their computers. Or their video games. Or NetFlix. Or the Internet.”

I reminded him of the study I’d talked about a couple of weeks ago. The one about 67% of men in the study electing to endure a painful electric shock to get out of sitting still, in a room, by themselves, for 15 minutes, with no electronic devices. Yeah. That’s right. Put a guy in a room with nothing but a chair, and a button that administers an electric shock to himself, and tell him he can leave after 15 minutes, or he can shock the shit out of himself, and he’ll shock the shit out of himself.

And that’s when the lightbulb turned on over my head, and I said, “Holy crap!”

My doctor knows exactly what I mean when I say, “Holy crap!” I’d just had an epiphany. I’d just realized something. Or, as I like to express it, another piece of the puzzle of life finally fit into the puzzle.

“They’re escaping, aren’t they.” It wasn’t a question. It was a statement. I was reciting a fact. “They’re escaping from their lives. That’s why they go crazy when their phones die. Why they spend hours glued to NetFlix, watching streaming media. Why they bury themselves in video games. They’re escaping the misery they live in. And when they can’t escape, and have to sit silently for a while, they can’t. They’ll shock themselves to escape. So they don’t have to deal with who they are. What their lives have become. The truth that they’re all walking dead.”

My doctor and I spent a lot of time talking about that today. About how people try to escape.

I know. I hear the voices screaming, “It takes one to know one!” and “Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!” Yeah. Most people will never understand, I know. I’m flawed. I’m guilty. I’m not perfect.

On my drive home, I listened to my music, playing through the car stereo. I turn it to 24 on the power meter when I’m in the car alone. I can feel the door panels shake in time with the music. I can see the rear view mirror vibrate as the sound waves move it around just a touch. I can feel the music through every cubic inch of me.

It’s my escape. From the misery. My own personal misery. Of dealing with a world I don’t understand, and never made.

But, what happens when that music goes away. In May, 2012, it did. I got dunked in some rapids leading to a waterfall. The camera I owned at the time drowned. It never worked again. The MP3 music player I owned also drowned, and never played another note from any music. It never turned on again. My cell phone took days (at least 3) to dry out. I was without any of those devices for days.

This happened on day two of a five-day camping trip. We had no TV. No Internet. No electricity. And pretty much no cell phone service. It would have wrecked many of the people I know, and have known in life.

I did OK. I was happy to get a new player, a few days after we got home. I was happy when my phone started working, also a day or two after we got home. I was happy when we replaced my dead camera in July of 2012.

I survived without them. And I can survive without them now.

I know people who would shrivel up like grapes turning into raisins if they had to endure such an ordeal. I know people who can’t live without being on their cell phone, on Facebook, or Twitter, or being able to watch another movie on their phone, to kill the time.

Time they can’t face on their own.

Because, if they had to face it, they’d have to face their lives. They’d have to face themselves. They’d have to deal with who they are.

And I see people like them every day. People who will do anything to escape themselves.

“I don’t want to be dead at 30! I won’t be like them!”

I never told anyone.

Until today.

Here’s a link to the study I mentioned.

Study: People Would Rather Suffer Electric Shock Than Sit Silently

#ThursThreads Week 86 : So You Will Resist

“I’m too awake. I can’t go back.”

Penny shook her head, “But you have to. You can’t stay this way.” I heard her speak, but understood her to say, “You have to fit into society. Everyone has to fit in.” She didn’t have to speak for me to hear her say, “So you will resist. As you always have. And our society will beat you into your place.”

I understood her perspective. To her, I’d lost everything. My career. My salary. The respect of those around me. The trust of everyone. To her, I’d crashed and burned. And then I’d stayed broken, staring at the ashes of the life I’d had. I knew that disturbed her.

She gave me that pleading look that says, “Please, explain this to me! I want to understand.” I’d seen that look on her a thousand times. And any time I’d tried to explain, she always tried to convert me to her way of thinking, her view of the world.

“I know.” I took her hand. “You believe I’m still angry about what happened.” I wished I could explain everything. I knew the words. I also knew she would not understand them. I could not return to the life I’d had. That artificial creation that made me normal. That made me fit in to our society.

Penny withdrew her hand. I wished, as she walked away, she would wake up someday. My heart ached, for I knew she never would.

245 Words

I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 83. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.