As a little boy whenever I heard Mozart’s ‘William Tell Overture ‘ I would be passionately inspired with an unstoppable desire to run wild, to loose my energies, to whirl and spin this strange reality into releasing me, carried by the pure joy of my dynamic participation in proving the tenuousness of this dream. Round and round the dining room table I would go, faster ever faster, feeling certain that at any moment I might lift off. Kaleidoscopically swirling through my mind’s eye, as the rest of the world blurred encouragingly around me, I flew through the magic lantern of my awareness.
The laughter of whatever adults happened to be around at the time grounded me as I saw my comically tiny self through their amusement: little legs and arms pumping away, the thrill of sudden transformation filling me with a delight they misunderstood as mere childish exuberance. Never did they suspect that this was only one of my many and myriad attempts, in a long line of such experiments. I had dedicated myself to exploring and developing the singular intent of escape.
The good news was that I eventually succeeded. Surprisingly that was the bad news too, although not the whole story.
At first it was through play that I had my greatest triumphs in temporarily suspending, and even at times entirely dispelling, this crushing imposition on the senses generally accepted as ‘the real world’. I watched with a shocked heart, as the strangely loving people around me would be ground down by the daily duties working them mercilessly. To my eye these people were most assuredly not free, and were under an even more formidable weight then that which they imposed. I deduced early on that this was surely the original source of their unhappiness. Everyday they would go to Work. Everyday they would return diminished. As I understood it this was what they had in mind for me. Compounding this drama exponentially was the apparently divinely sanctioned presentation of The Judging God, watching our every act and privy even to our own most private thoughts, who would condemn to an Eternity of Hell those who didn’t follow His Rules, and He did this because He Loved us. Heavens! I suspected that all this was the same insidious plot to keep me prisoner that I had guessed at earlier in my burgeoning career as an escapist extraordinaire.
How could the world of these people surrounding me be so very different from the world which lived so powerfully within me? All one had to do was look up into a heaven of beauty, or listen to the songs of birds cascading from the trees in musical waterfalls, or simply feel the loving caress of the wind, to know that the Truth of Existence is Wonder, and that Life is Play – not Work!
As I calcified through the years, become older and more jaded through the various manipulations and corrections of the institutionalized programming everyone everywhere seemed to ceaselessly parrot, I too became lost, and not only in my internal dialogue. I was now mostly an unconscious player in my own life, one over which I felt I had never had true control. Yet a part of my awareness remained forever aloof from the various proceedings of what others called life, which I still saw as something else altogether. From there I watched as years of daily trauma accrued. From there I watched myself become another obedient performer playing along in this sordid game of make-believe, as my attention was captured and imprisoned, betrayed by my own collusion with indulgence. From there I witnessed myself eventually revel in the maniacal desperation permeating the square corners of my molded and molding mind.
Although it haunted me ceaselessly, remembering my true nature had become far too painful. My, now well developed, self, separate and selfish, did its trained best to convince me that this frightful pressure, this terrible feeling welling up inside me was surely my own complicit guilt. Or, perhaps, as it told me ad nauseam, I was defective, retarded, mad. I could get away with murder then, it gleefully suggested, and wouldn’t ‘releasing’ all my toxic anger onto the world that deserved it be a kind of justice!?! Ha ha ha! Cue the lightning and scary music.
Eventually I spent most of my time abusing my awareness in one way or another, trying to silence not only the mad voice in my head but also the other one located somewhere right in the heart of me. Everywhere I turned I found just the thing: temporary escape through traditional means such as books and games, television, sugar, personality and sociality. Imagine: an entire world of distraction and indulgence stretching out further then the eye can see! Distractions to last a lifetime! How perfect! How dastardly!
Throughout those years hating my self and my life I had understandably developed a kind of death wish, as I understood it then. Accident after accident, each one worse then the last, from motorcycles to dangerous chemicals, from teenage high-jinks to outright crimes, I pushed the envelope as far and as often as I could, defying everything and everyone, particularly myself. What was to come was the so-called cherry on the cake of what I considered at the time an entirely cursed life.
My capitulation was as complete as my despair. I had had enough and wanted out. I wanted to quit, to return Home.
So one day I got my wish, in a manner of speaking. And as I lay there on the road, my body torn open, my blood growing cold, entirely unable to catch a breath, barely able to remember what it even meant to breathe, I gazed upward into a starry heaven and was at peace for perhaps the first time in a long, long while. What a sky of sparkling beauty! Night birds sang quietly, accompanied by a gentle summer breeze. My earlier thought to somehow stop and punish the driver of the car that had just hit me evaporated along with my habitual need to fight the world around me. What a weight! All that only mattered to the world I was leaving. I was bound for elsewhere, and was content to lie there in my own perfect sense of peace waiting for paradise. Even the crazy voice in my head was gone. Escape! Finally! And not a minute too soon: I was starting to hurt real bad over here…
Sparing you the gory details the ambulance came and took me to a place I had too often visited in the past. Months later I was hobbling about on a cane saying good buy to the once-beautiful now-ruined motorcycle, my first new one, bought only a short while before my ‘accident’.
Though it did take me years after this point to fully digest my experience and contextualize it within the story of my life, I was forever changed by the silence that had brought me such peace. That silence spoke volumes and echoes to this day. With Silence comes Knowledge. And with self-knowledge came the beginning of the end of my self-pity. I eventually stopped feeling sorry for myself, and no longer had any desire to continue acting out pity’s voice, its commands, its pain. I earned the certainty that I had become not only my own worst enemy – but that that very villainy, for which I was without a doubt responsible, was in truth a powerful expression of my intent to be free. I could no longer look at my life as a series of accidents, or myself as a victim of circumstance. I knew without a shadow of a doubt, or of any other kind, that I was finally and absolutely responsible for myself and my life, regardless of what anyone else said or did, whether I was having a good time or not, whether I liked it or not, whether I was free or not, period. Appreciating that sobering truth brings me here to offer you this overture performed to the music of evolution.
From head to toe I’ve literally given myself the scars to prove a whole host of things but mostly they mark the lengths I’ll go to be free simply because that’s my truest nature. As a wolf will gnaw through its own flesh and bone to free itself from the predator’s trap, preferring even death to captivity or slavery, so too the Spirit of Freedom Unconquerable. Cue Mozart please, and thank you for your patience.