Let’s go on a trip. At first we think it is going to be a vacation to some serene and wonderful land. The scenery is grand; most people seem wonderful. The sun shines frequently.
But let’s make it into an adventure!
You find yourself alone at the scene of a crime. As an innocent bystander, you soon find out that this ostensibly wonderful foreign land is mysterious and kafkaesque.
At the scene you are arrested. By some unintelligible legal process you are soon confined in a rather small cell. After a few days of befuddlement and confusion, during which time you are granted scant new information, you acquire a cellmate.
Let’s talk about your cellmate. He is as angry as you are confused. He looks odd; he is purple, or blue, or something very dark, yet not black. He changes shape so as to quickly take up any space in the cell you want to move in to. He goes into angry rants, spraying spittle and loud syllables in a language that is unlike any you have ever heard before.
This goes on for days and days. Everything you want to do, or think, or ask — everything — can make your cellmate go off in a new round of head-splitting outrage. Since you never know what will anger him, or how angry he will get, or how long it will last, you stop doing almost everything. A few minutes of your movement, or even thinking, can set him off. One thing is clear: lights and noise set him off. And so you do your best to limit these stimuli.
The days turn into weeks.
Finally, through a friend of an acquaintance you’ve made in this sad, strange land, someone special is allowed to visit with you for a few hours. Although he has no control over the legal system or proceedings, he does know how it works, and he knows that its wheels turn very slowly. As you chat, the odd purple man growls while pacing loudly across the cell — occasionally stopping to breathe in your face or yell in your ear.
Here is what you learn.
1) Your dilemma will end, or at least abate, … some day. If you live long enough.
2) You and the purple man are locked up together for a long time. His behavior will improve, eventually. We don’t know when.
3) You must come to some sort of peace with your dilemma.
4) Some unknowable duration of time after your “peace” — which permits a modicum self-pity, emotional outbursts of frustration, anger, anguish — the wheels of justice will begin to nudge the cell gate ajar. Slowly, slowly, your freedom from this foul confinement with the angry purple man will become manifest.
And so you wait. And wait. Some days you just sit in the corner, eyes closed, humming mind-numbing tunes softly to yourself. Must not agitate the purple man.
You probably did not enjoy that little fantasy trip. I don’t apologize.
It is not an imagined fantasy. It is real. That is the last 16 days of my life. Evidently it will last quite a while longer; just how long is simply unknowable.
Under medical counsel I’ve been permitted to spend short periods of time each day experimenting with doing what I want to do — gently, gently — to see how far I can go before angering the purple man in my head. I now consult him — in our own language — before doing things and on subjects that could anger him. He says 20 minutes is enough. So that is all for now.
Peace to you and yours, and peace to the inside of your cerebrum.
Joe Girard © 2014