Faith is believing what you know ain't so.
Each time I manage to drag my withering remains out of the proverbial crypt and muster the courage to face the looking glass head on, I get a little confused. Being that these primordial moments fall into the precaffinated grey zone I curse by the name morning, there is the possibility of a logical explanation for the phenomenon. Then again, I have a marked tendency to take the sometimes more interesting and usually more entertaining philosophical bent whenever possible.
Regardless of origin, this bout of uncertainty I suffer from
each day comes from not being able to find the innocent, exuberant
child I'm almost positive I was at one point. Instead, there's this
Somewhere along the way, Peter and Wendy be damned, I grew up.
It's not so much the classic, "I'm getting older, and certainly
going to Charleston off this mortal coil one of these days,"
feeling that's got me so bent out of shape. I'm sure that bit of
angst is scheduled for a few decades down the line. Rather, it's
the disheartening sensation of coming to grips with the fact that I
failed in one of my great hopes in life; since the tender age of
seven I was staunchly determined not to transmogrify into an icky
If me, seeing me, seeing too much wasn't enough, I've also got that whole "I look at everything differently these days" problem to further screw up my manchild status. Take the idea of personal heroes for an excellent example. Back in the Underoos era, I was comforted by knowing that Superman would be there to save the day, Mr. Sandman would dream me a dream and Good Ol' Santa, like some obese postal worker on LSD, would be dropping coal in the stocking of every kid like me all over the world come snow or rain or gloom of night. It wasn't much, but that was kind of the point.
Back in the days when my biggest worry was whether or not to eat
the yellow snow, I didn't live in a universe so bent on
It gets worse, of course. I don't believe in Santa any more, and
I found out the fat bastard only wore that damned crimson getup
because he sold out to Coca Cola back in 1931. If it had happened
today, the Saint formerly known as Nicholas would probably be
wearing Nike's and pimping sleigh insurance at us like a chubby
Marlin Perkins. I look around and it seems like somewhere along the
line hypocrisy became hip, and the Disneyfication of all that's
good and holy reached a virtually unstoppable pace. When I watched
Kaldi's in New Orleans get steamrollered in the name of yet another
Starbucks, only the knowledge that Anne Rice will be forced to live
out that last of her gothier-
I'm sure my childhood therapist is pleased as both Punch and
Judy to find out just how badly I learned to play with others. In
point of fact, the only childhood relationship I've seemed to
maintain through the accident of my post-
I'm convinced that it's all those sleepless nights that made me miss out on my eternal childhood. It's more than likely that during those ugly hours, between two in the morning and sunrise, aging actually occurs. Sure, I suppose it's possible that the human body grows up and old at a constant rate, but I'm fairly certain that the mind and spirit only mature during those endless moments before dawn.
It's during these agonizing hours, which always seem just an eyeblink behind the daylight, that everything sinks in. All of the wonderfully wicked things happening in this brave new world start to worm their way into my consciousness, forcing me to deal with all of the things I've been desperately trying to avoid. Like some creeping sickness, everything I'm frantic not to see, think or know find places to settle irrevocably into my psyche, and, just a little bit at a time, I change forever.
Finding out, as a young adult, that the world didn't work the
way I thought it did, or more importantly the way I was
told it did, was the very thing that made the icy slide
into anger, bitterness and disillusionment so terrifyingly easy.
While there is, even in the Twilight of the Soul, still a need for
heroes, the requirements I put upon my personal champions changed
drastically once my own shadows began to overtake me. Caped
Of the trappings associated with the end of my young, and
admittedly somewhat nihilistic, adulthood, I miss the
I'm still just as hair-
When the last ember of it died, a horrifying creature took its place. A grumpy old beast which looked exactly like the nasty man in the looking glass. One look in it's burning, all knowing eyes told me that it had seen far more than I could ever hope to comprehend, and as it opened it's maw to speak, I knew that the wisdom of the ages was about to be imparted upon me. It said one word:
The grin on it's face told me two things that put it all into perspective. One was that the reason it was gray was not so much due to age, as it was just the color of the world it lived in. The other thing I gleaned from it's sarcastic leer was that Mark Twain was right, the only sight sadder than an young pessimist was an old optimist.
You see, I had it all wrong. Just because the monster in the
mirror looked old and tired, it didn't mean that he had stopped
fighting battles. On the contrary, more than likely he was fighting
battles that were more personally critical to him than all of my
chest thumping and raging had ever meant to me. A black and white
world full of monsters had led me to replace my childhood
protectors with furious antiheroes, and living in a chaotic moral
morass, comprised of more shades of grey than Citizen Kane, forced
the older me to retire the testosterone-
In a world where stable ground only exists when you put your foot down, the old beast chose these new heroes with the utmost care. They had to carry him not through the pretty trials of the world, as he had long since learned how to get through a day without crying for Superman to save him. Rather, this new pantheon of small gods had to lend him their powers for the greatest battles a man can ever know; the wars of his own choosing.
Of all the names he invoked, like some neo-
It was the same errant knight Cervantes chose back in the early 1600's, Don Quixote. Lost in his fantasies of protecting his beloved Dulcinea, this crone of a hero makes little sense in the world of my past. However, in the world in which I increasingly find myself awakening, the Lord of La Mancha's willingness to fight the unbeatable foe, even if all around decry the enemy's very existence, is something to respect. The more the monster in the mirror and I become the same, the more I find myself challenging people to accept the possibility that the windmills might in fact be giants, and that if they do not have the bravery to pick up a lance themselves, to at least consider acting the role of an honorable Sancho and respecting those who do.
It's funny when you think about it. I started out believing in fairy tales and superheroes, put them aside when they no longer suited the rapidly darkening world I was forced to live in, and ultimately returned to them in my hour of need. The difference, of course, being that now I'm old enough to know the difference between a childhood dream and harsh reality, but smart enough not to care.
06 / 05 / 2009