Posts Tagged ‘normality’

Fallout From Failing to Pass the Gates

October 15, 2012

There were little bits of concern voiced here and there about the somber tone of the previous post and it does warm my heart to know that there are people spread out across the many continents and from all walks of life who genuinely worry about the wellbeing of one lonesome wanderer. Some friends even voiced their wish to only hear from me when I have good news to tell. My first reaction was to put their gradient of kinship inside some pretty bold quotation marks, like: What kind of “friends” are they? Then the little Jesus in me rescinded the curse, lighted my load with forgiveness and recognized a more wide spread concern. We do seem to have great difficulties to deal with the dark side of life. We’ve been taught since back when we were still tiny open and spongy receptacles for life’s awesome bounty to face it with a stern spirit of belligerence. The bad has to be fiercely fought with noble sword in hand, we were instructed, relentlessly attacked with swift lances clamped under armpits, and finally utterly destroyed and eliminated for good (sic) with a determined blow from a sharp dagger in an even more determined fist. Most certainly it should not be talked about. It is so evil that it should not even be allowed to enter one’s train of thought. You have to think positive! So the famous saying goes. The dark side has to be utterly ignored. That’s what we have been taught.
Unfortunately that doctrine never seemed to want to settle down in me. It was not only because I am, after all, a rebel at heart, be it with or without a cause. The real reason was that the dark side came after me a fair bit more persistently than it seemed to do so with the other people around me. It notoriously overwhelmed my fragile and chronically insecure self in deep bouts of depression with periodic and chronic regularity. I had to come to terms with that dark side one way or another if I didn’t want to be brought to my knees. Running away from it clearly only made things worse.
I therefore learned to accept the invitation whenever it was served and after the first trepidatious steps found out that much of the terrain in the dark side of the world is actually quite walkable. My inquisitive strolls then became longer and longer and it turned out to be a journey just as wonderful, mysterious, exciting, rewarding and entertaining as the physical and geographical wanderings through the nooks and crannies of the marvelous blue planet of ours I’ve had the privilege to undertake throughout my life. It was an excursion of discovery, exploring and learning, with a lot of stumbling and struggling, but the going was fed consistently by a slow but steady progress towards some sort of understanding. Not an academic understanding it was, where knowledge is at its heart a means for showing off, for creating distance to others and, of course, for earning degrees of some sort or another. Mine was an understanding that allowed me to feel at home, at ease and at peace with what I happen to have to study with such dedication and earnestness.
Very much contrary to what I had been made to believe the dark side of the world turned out to be remarkably similar to the side where the light shines bright. The same set of basic laws seemed to apply on both sides of the fence. While one side was tame with well-trodden highways for easy and comfortable displacement, the other side had a certain wildness to it through which few but very well laid out walkways lead to the many destinations. The more I walked and explored freely on both sides of the fence, the more the apparent differences became reduced. After visiting many places on the light side of life, the brilliance of the landscape lost much of its initial luster, and after having familiarized myself with the topography of the dark side a dim by persistent light started to glow around me, revealing many familiar features.
Once I had learned that there is no innate animosity between the two so diligently separate halves of the human world, I turned my attention to the border, the regions where one passes from one to the other. My always well-groomed curiosity wanted to know what it is made out of, how it is maintained, who are the guards manning the gates and how one can learn to move freely from one side to the other. The first question was the easiest to answer. Since the beginning of my involuntary journey I had noticed in myself and in everybody around me that whenever we approach the borders from our standard positions, which significantly are always assumed to be in the bright side of life, strong feelings of fear would well up inside us, so overwhelming that most of us immediately and very instinctively do sharp 180˚ turns and run for the soothing cover of our rocking chair in front of the TV screen. That fear then must be the building blocks of the wall that separates the good from the evil lands. The maintenance question was a little bit of a harder nut to crack. In the insecurity of my very first crossings of that wall of fear, once I had figured out that you simply take the neatly stacked bricks of fright and lift them off the wall to make an opening big enough for you to pass, I would politely put them back in place hoping to diffuse any blame, shame or other induced feelings of guilt that might be directed at me from the lords of the universe for my daring feat of trespassing the zone of separation. With time and experience a certain carelessness replaced the diligence and once the passage had been opened I would simply pass through and move on. My hopes of returning to the same spot and being able to pass through the already carved up opening on my way back were however always dashed without exception. It looked like as soon as I was out of sight someone rebuilt the wall with the same precision and skill it had been put together in the first place. I took a good deal of detective work, many nights spent crouched behind a bush or a rock with a clear line of sight towards the opening in the wall I had just passed through, to reveal the mystery behind the self-healing of the wall of fear. Nothing would happen until after I had left, until one moonless night I demonstratively left and the crawled back under cover of the waste-high switchgrass, and then I saw them. A team of five soldiers of normality came patrolling the wall, marching with synchronized steps, stopping abruptly at the opening and within seconds and without making the slightest sound they restacked the bricks and moved on into the darkness. Little soldiers of normality they were! I should have thought so!
I didn’t know about the gates in the wall for quite some time until I happened upon one by chance. Those same soldiers of normality were standing there and stopped me when I wanted to happily walk through. Very friendly but with a stern expression on their featureless faces they explained to me that I needed to produce a passport with a stamp of craziness of sufficient size. Absent that there was no way they could let me pass. Orders were orders, after all! I could have gotten that stamp easily. My documentation on craziness is vast and more than sufficient to fulfill the stringent requirements, but it was just too much hassle. By that time I had gotten used to doing the work myself and I was able to pass through the wall whenever and wherever I pleased. The sweat equity I invested whenever I went over to the other side was actually serving me well, it kept me lean and fit!
That little habit of mine however was really only that: A habit, a quirk meant to make living in difficult times a bit less gray and grueling. I have never allowed it to distract from the urgent need in the realms of human politics, from the moral mandate to work towards the permanent dismantling of that wall. That’s right, that wall must go! It is nothing but a petrified remnant from the times when we were still at war with ourselves. Now that we have overcome the looming threat of violence, now that we are able to talk freely about the dark side, now that we have learned to explore and integrate the vast landscape beyond the limits of knowledge, now that we have taken the light of discovery down the deepest pits of deceit and distrust, and found out how together and in the same boat we actually are, that wall is completely void of meaning. We will have to find a way, of course, to reinsert those soldiers of normality into our society of healthy craziness. There must be something useful they can do to become productive and creative members of our global nation! Where there is a will, there must be a way! Because once the wall of fear is gone, the only gates we walk towards and make great effort and stride to squeeze ourselves through must be the very narrow gates of understanding!