I was about 12 years old when I first knew that something was terribly wrong.
It was during the 5 o'clock news, on a weekday. I was alone in the house. It had been a bad day. I used to have a lot of trouble getting along with my peers. Sometimes I still have trouble getting along with my peers. So I was sitting there, feeling melancholy, watching the news.
What type of 12 year old, when left unsupervised, chooses to watch the news anyway? Something was already a little off I suppose.
Even now, 19 years later, I can remember each of the stories. A man was shot and killed in a robbery. Police later killed the perpetrator of the crime. He had stolen 150 dollars and some weed from another guy.
Two people were killed in a car accident on I-270. There they were, commuting to somewhere or another in their American made family sedan, and bang, one mistake and they were dead. Smashed like bugs and then burned in a raging fire.
A woman was missing. No one had seen her for four days. The news people gave me her description and license plate number, and advised me to keep an eye out for her.
A small shopping center was being named after a soldier who had died in a helicopter crash. His family was there at the ribbon cutting. They were honored by the gesture, and made some sweeping emotional statement about how their child had sacrificed everything for his beloved country. He died in Southern Illinois somewhere.
The weather man said that there would be thunderstorms tomorrow. He seemed very concerned about every ones safety, and suggested that I stick around until after the break for more information.
The commercials came then. The first one was for a real estate company. It showed a happy young couple closing the deal on a new house. The next commercial was for a beverage called "Sunny Delight". These kids, who were also around 12, had been playing baseball. Apparently, they were very thirsty. They were extremely excited about drinking some fake orange juice.
It was at this exact moment that something snapped in my mind. A powerful realization swept over me. This "Sunny D" commercial was bullshit. And real estate companies were bullshit. Strip malls, dead soldiers, police, criminals ,money, and flaming Ford Crown Victorias were all utter bullshit. The missing lady? Probably ran away. Or killed herself. Couldn't stand anymore of the bullshit.
Within moments, I would identify all sorts of additional bullshit. My parents, their jobs, their cars and house, my Bugle Boy jeans, dog food made by Purina, lawn mowers, gem stones, the grocery store, the church I occasionally visited; all bullshit.
Suddenly I could see what it was that had always been lying below the surface. That vague sense of dissatisfaction that I had felt for my entire life became understandable for the first time. I realized that my entire reality was a bunch of nonsense. The materialism, the patriotism, the entire modus operandi of everyone I knew; it was all a big waste of time and energy. The adults who guided my life were as clueless as I was. My parents were not really in control. Security was an illusion. A childhood fancy. The world around me was a big cluster-fuck, and all of the people in it were crazy. Something, a very long time ago, had gone terribly wrong.
As an adult, I've adjusted somewhat to the harsh realities I exist within. Furthermore, I've discovered some elements of life that are valuable. I'm pretty comfortable in my own skin.
Yet I still live in this horrible culture. I work for a corporation. I spend an absurd quantity of time earning money, spending money, and thinking about money. I own all sorts of shit that I don't need. I pay taxes, against my better judgement. It truly is an incredible waste of time and energy.
Today was the type of day when I really question whether the effort is really worth it. It seems a horrible tragedy that we must waste so much of our lives working like slaves just so we can have luxuries we could do without. In any decently run universe, we'd retire at age 45. By the time most people can retire, their best years are long gone. They are lucky if they can enjoy 15 years of non-slavery by the time they die.
I was doing some paperwork at work today, and I kept finding my self staring blankly at the wall, lost in a daydream.
I saw myself in the woods, 12 years old and barefooted, picking berries from a bush. My family was near by, digging roots from the rich soil with stone tools. My fingernails had blood underneath them and around the cuticles from butchering an animal an hour earlier. I was looking forward to walking home to the long and narrow house that we all slept in. I would laugh and eat and smell the odor of fire cooking flesh when I got there. As the sun went down, I would inch closer to the glowing cooking fire, in order to avoid the chill of the evening. The evenings are so cold, but I wouldn't mind, because the sun always returns in the morning.
When I snapped out of the daydream, I immediately wondered "Could this ever become my reality?" I closed my eyes and for a few seconds, saw only the black behind my eyelids. Suddenly though, I saw a small vibration within the darkness. A tiny, yet violent vibration. Quickly, the vibration ceased as the disturbance grew in size exponentially. Now it grew rapidly, so rapidly that it was moving toward me, moving away from me, moving in every direction toward everything, faster than the speed of sound. I momentarily sensed it's burning hot energy closing in, and then, bang, it hits me, nuclear heat tearing me apart, destroying my entire being, ripping my molecular constructs down to atoms, sending them flying in every direction at the speed of light.
When I opened my eyes, All I saw was an Excel spreadsheet on a twelve inch monitor, smelled bread burning, and heard a teenage girl shriek in panic.