He was having breakfast with Dad sometime after the pain had sunk in. They were discussing her. Dad mentioned he’d sent out some pictures of her and him together that past summer. This was before he knew things had ended. Dad said he hoped the pictures wouldn’t upset him. They talked about her, and he spoke in muted tones, half based in the truth of slowly being OK with it, and half based in not having the heart to unleash his full buffet of angst upon Dad. Dad then offered that things might yet work out and if not, ‘she would be the first of many’.
He remembered this as the most horrifying statement he’d ever heard. He couldn’t imagine going through it even once more.
The dark comical absurdity was not lost on him – his greatest fear was more females coming his way, the opposite of which was probably most males’ greatest fear. He felt the stifling isolation creep up again, wondering how the hell seemingly every other human being on the planet was OK with dealing with the turmoil of interaction.
Things like a disgust of alcohol and a lack of ability to engage in any sort of casual sex made him feel more alone than he thought was possible. To him, it felt like literally every being on the planet except him made excursions out into the terror known as life. Some would enter his world to spend time with him, and seem incredibly relatable, but they would always have another side. They would always venture out despite their similar feelings, putting on masks of competent business people or capable socialites.
Now, years later, having had a rare experience of opening up his oft-discarded baseball glove of life and catching feelings with it, Dad’s statement came back to him. The terror was still there behind the promise of more experiences, but any sort of internal turbulence brought on by this emotion was simply an illusion, sleight of hand, a distraction from the one real, true, towering skyscraper of a problem: it was experiencing life itself he didn’t like.
It was not the particular thoughts, but the idea of feeling something in general that was so jarring to him. He didn’t like being open, vulnerable, real, emotional, in a word, human. This was also disconcerting to someone who seemed to spend endless amounts of prose whining about the lack real, raw emotion in the world. Here it was, and he wanted it gone.
Suddenly it was all clear. He was wrong in thinking it was the particular obstacles that frustrated him -it was the fact that there were obstacles at all. This all too familiar irritation was simply because life was occurring. Much better to be tucked in a world of sterile and cozy complacency, constantly high and separated, nothing ever even remotely tweaking the emotional equalizer.
He’d watched the others all slowly pick their careers, and though he was trying to enter the world of entertainment that brought such a fantastic respite from the numbness, he felt the only career he’d really dedicated to himself was non-involvement. Now there was something he’d actually put the work this world so lusted after into!
Now the bigger picture loomed. He thought back to ‘The Sandlot’, a favorite childhood movie that captured the free at play spirit of youth. The young lead spends all his time alone in his room. The mom, worried, encourages him to go out, get dirty, and actually get in a little trouble, the opposite of the usual parental advice. This scene now spoke volumes to him.
Was he a fool to try and defy the way of the world? Was involvement while on this planet like gravity, an undeniable fact? Was trying to make it through this world without interaction like attempting to walk off a cliff and stay standing on the air?
This question was now bigger, more omnipresent, than any sort of nihilistic, misanthropic navel gazing. Being one of those types who always saw the so called bullshit in the world was one thing, but hating the very concept of life in general?
He winced, told himself he was just ill-prepared after how he’d spent these last three decades, and tried to embrace the feeling in his chest that made everything flame up so much, for he now knew that Dad’s words were true.
There would always be more to come.