A long, long time ago (in this galaxy though) I swore to God - who I was sure was taking an avid interest in my ten year old self-discovery mission - that if He would help me keep my eyes open I would be one of those people who would see.
Let me explain. I think you either know what's going on around you or you don't. There's some middle ground there, and some people flip back and forth like bacon, sizzling merrily along without realizing that what lays outside the pan is a big hungry gut; but basically people fit into the "Know" category, or the "Denial" category. I also think it's a choice we make at some point, from the womb to early adolescence. I don't think it's always a conscious choice, because some folks got some bad shit to forget, right? But when I was tennish or so, I made that choice.
Looking back, I'm proud of wee little me for recognising that there is a choice. I think it was my soul talking at me, frankly, not God. No doubt my soul was a lot more savvy than my prepubescent self. Anyway, I swore that day to be "in the know." I even knew it was a choice with ramifications, and I said (out loud if I remember correctly), "No matter how painful, no matter how hard, I would rather always Know."
It was a momentous moment.
Knowing has always manifested itself most potently while facing my demons. Actually I think that's what it is; facing your demons, recognizing your fear and letting it sweep over you in a great, drowning wave, and hoping like hell you'll come back up on the other side.
I've had a lot of experience with this. The examples won't seem so great, but they're experiences that have changed me for the better. Hopefully Knowing will always change me for the better.
I had a shitty middle school experience. Lincoln Junior High was hell on earth, and in the middle of the sixth grade I became its newest detainee. They tracked (ability grouping - illegal even back then, as I learned at the good ole Kansas School of Ed) and as a new student coming in the middle of the year, I was stuck in the lower track. The teachers and other kids sucked, including but not limited to:
The lesbian gym teachers who used to watch us run naked through the showers. Oh yeah, and they tossed the towel so that we had to sort of leap for it, jiggling our little boobers in the process. Fuckin' weirdos.
Mr. Philips, the science teacher whose hall pass was a toilet seat and who used to be all composed and shit and then just lose it on our asses for no fucking reason. I've always been scared of yelling, still am to this day. I used to suspect that one day he'd start a rampage, smash his beakers and test tubes to the floor, and run screaming out of the building with his toilet seat pass around his neck. In the fantasy version the toilet seat would get hung up on a car bumper and he'd be dragged through the streets of Naperville, IL and his cold, bloody body finally dropped in Centenial Beach. No one would ever find him on the bottom of that, heh.
The English teacher who recognized that I could read and write as well as or better than her at age 12, and did absolutely nothing about it.
The girl, hell if I can remember her name, who tormented me for a solid year and a half until I told her to go fuck herself, I just didn't care what she thought. (I recall the scene vividly. I was walking down to the art room and she was sitting there outside the room and we were all alone in the hallway. I think it was before school. But she started in and I said my piece and she sort of shut her mouth with a surprised little snap. I sat down in the hall to wait too, and then she asked me what I was there for. It was a tenuous truce; but she never messed with me anymore, and she even went so far as to say, when someone else did, that we all should get over it. Nobody at that school ever messed with me again, come to think of it... There's something to standing up for yourself, isn't there?)(Goddamn if that knowing thing didn't just happen AGAIN!)
Anyway, you get the picture.
Well, guess what I got to do as an adult? I got to go back to middle school as an itinerate teacher/counselor. I got to walk through the halls, pretty much still shorter than most of the students, with my notebook under my arm and try not to look too dorky. And guess what? I was still a dork. It still sucked. Middle school will forever suck for generations of students. But I also learned I didn't care anymore. I was just... over it.
Then there are the handicapped. Yeah, don't pretend you don't know what I'm talkin' about. It's uncomfortable as hell when one comes around, huh? God forbid they talk to you... Well, when you go work for a wheelchair company for a few years it really changes your view, and not in the way you'd expect. Yeah, I gained respect for people in chairs and what they do and what they're up against. But eventually I got past that milestone to an even better philosophy. Wheelchairs are tools, not so different than strollers, as far as I'm concerned. I got fairly technical with it in my job, at one time I could practically take one down and put the damn thing back together again and there are hundreds of pieces to a decent chair, too. We spent hours in them, mostly because they were more comfortable than our office chairs and a well-oiled chair is just pretty damn fun to ride around in (for those of us who could get back up out of them whenever we wanted, at least). And of course several of my coworkers were in chairs for real. It just got to be no big deal. Past ignoring it or even trying to ignore it, but more like... like when a kid has braces. It's not a tabboo topic, but it's not something you talk about much either. It's just... there.
There's this chick at the gym in a chair and I asked her a few weeks ago, "Is that a titanium or a paint job?"
She looked surprised, and then she said (kinda proudly and rightly so), "Titanium."
I said, "Awesome."
I've been in a titanium and they are ultra-cool (and damn expensive too). I also got to meet some para-olympic atheletes supported by the company and these guys were hot. Built like nothing you've ever seen, lean and muscled and most of them were really cute in the face too. Those "racing chairs "
are awesome pieces of equipment. They are no different than a skier's skis or Lance Armstrong's bike, and I know that while a lot of people could say that, not a lot of people believe it in their hearts. I consider myself fortunate to be able to think that way. Again, I'm over it. There's not much mystique left to wheelchairs for me.
Oh, and I was scared of needles, fucking terrified of shots, and in my second pregnancy I had to give myself two shots a day in the stomach for seven months.
Needless to say, I got over it. Now I have five piercings and I'm contemplating a tattoo. The pain of the tattoo is the least of my concerns.
Yes, of course there are more demons, past and present. I have more than your basic law-abiding citizen's healthy fear of prison. I'm scared of the idea of losing a limb - unreasonably terrified that even if I lost the tip of my pinkie toe it would forever change my life (besides hurt like a mother-fucker.) And of course there's the children; they say that to have children is to forever put yourself out there. There's simply no true escape from fear once you have children.
But I still made the right decision that day.
I guess when I have no more demons then... well, then I'll go crawl into a hole and die.
Until then, bring 'em on.