Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Or So He Thought.


Written by a good friend who occasionally posts on here, but wishes to remain anonymous and has no desire to have a blog.

A friend, I'll call Scott played by all the rules, listened to his mother, tried to be a good father, son, husband, employee, citizen. He ate the right foods, exercised every day, wore clean underwear, worked hard for a living, drove the speed limit, looked both ways when crossing the street and made sure to cast his vote in every election, even if he had no clue his chosen candidate's platform. He was voting, that's all that mattered because he had learned that it's doesn't really matter which button you choose, only that you made an appearance, or so he thought.

As a father, Scott coached his kid's teams, volunteered a great deal of his time to athletic associations his children were affiliated, attended all of his children's sporting events and followed his parent's example right down to the woman he chose to marry, or so he thought.

Scott's goals in life consisted of becoming an instrument to carry out the "law". He desired to become a policeman, a secret service man, part of the military police...anything that would allow him to take the reins. He failed to follow through with those career goals, mostly because he fell in love, or so he thought with the woman he was to marry, to have children with, in order to carry on his parent's legacy, the legacy he learned he'd better follow to stay free from harm, or so he thought.

So, Scott followed the money trail. That way, he could provide for his family, and create the "storybook" life he had dreamed about, only this time it was his turn to grasp the reins, or so he thought.

He had a blueprint to follow and come hell or high water there was no deviating, even when the times, environment and circumstances swerved considerably. He could not, for he was taught to revere the rules, not to think about them. That's why he had to grab those reins as fast as he could. They provided ballast, to keep his flimsy boat from hitting an iceberg, or so he thought.

So, Scott unquestioningly and uncritically accepted those arbitrary authoritative, prescribed directions for conduct, and wanted to honor them by punishing those who might cause his "guardrails" - tradition, custom, ways of behaving - to disappear. Those same guardrails that served to define who he was; that saved him from pain and kept him from harm, or so he thought.

After all, what would he base his decisions on? How would he develop a course of action? And worst of all, how would he predict an outcome? In other words, he would be cast adrift with nothing to hold on, or so he thought.

Scott never gave up on his dream of holding a position of authority. He fulfilled his desire first through coaching his children, then by taking positions on the board, then the ultimate, refereeing. For what other position in life gives so much authority? Never mind that those you have authority over are all of ten-years old or that 14-year olds comprise 90% of the referee population. The referee's word is the final word and if you don't like it, he can admonish you, punish you, do whatever he wants to you short of murder, or so he thought.

Scott grew evermore confident of himself as things seemed to go his way...to the point that he began to embody the code of conduct he had learned to adhere. The "rule of law" no longer applied, only the "rule of Scott", or so he thought.

Years ago, Scott looked upon what he had created, his family, his children, and just as God proclaimed when looking upon the Garden of Eden, he proclaimed, "Life is good", however that was before he became God. His grip back then allowed for slack and he could appreciate his children and his wife for what they added to his life and he could loosen his grip, because they, his family, rarely resisted...they just went along for the most part. Yes, they argued and sometimes fought for their way, but in the end, he knew it was his way or the highway, or so he thought.

The kids grew up, his wife no longer went along and the more power Scott gained the more he wanted. The more money Scott made, the more he "needed". Now, the very people Scott clung too, were the very same people who were now holding him back. They no longer wanted to live this "blueprint" Scott insisted they live. He learned his wife no longer wanted to emulate his mother, that she was tired of skimming the surface of life, and keeping up appearances...the very essence of what it was to be part of his family. He saw her as the enemy now for in his mind her very presence might annihilate the "guardrails" Scott felt he could not live without, or so he thought.

She must be destroyed...that was the only way he could avoid the "abyss", he imagined he would fall into as a child if he dared to create his own code for living. Every breath Scott took was taken in fear of this deep, immeasurable vast chasm of the unknown and the sole reason he abhorred anyone who seemed to possess depth of intellect, emotion, or knowledge. He knew he couldn't murder her body...he was above the law, however that might be taking it a little too far. No, he must go further. He must destroy her soul, her spirit, or so he thought.

Scott, with the help of his origins, set out to render his wife useless. Without going in to all the gory details, his wife became his ex, his children, pawns he used to accomplish his mission, and as a result were caught in the path of his trajectory.
As much as he thought he loved his children, he only loved what they represented...a chance to control his past and define his future. They couldn't provide that for him anymore so his "love" ceased to exist. He tried to keep up appearances but even that was getting old and once the mask came off,and the guardrails evaporated, Scott disappeared. It never occurred to him that purposefully letting go of the reins, rails and all the externals he trusted with all that he was, could save his life, perhaps even allow him to chart his own course. Anchored in one place, clinging to outdated guardrails and false appearances, Scott inadvertently made himself vulnerable to the arbitrary forces all around us, and so he was caught.

"That room — once you enter it, you never really leave. You can forget you're there, you can go on as if you hold the reins, that the course of your life, yea even its length, will reflect the force of your character and the wisdom of your judgments. And then you hit an icy patch on a turn one sunny March day and the wheel in your hands becomes a joke and you no more than a spectator to your own dreamy slide toward the verge, and then you remember where you are." - Tobias Wolff, from his new book Our Story Begins
Tragically, Scott's intense fear as a child, a fear he dressed up as hubris later on, gave formation to the outline that defined his hollow existence and devoured any resilience he may have had left.

2 comments:

Anonymous,  16:58  

Well, what happened to your friend Scott?

elaine,  20:31  

His real name wouldn't happen to be Samuel, would it? Sounds exactly like my ex!

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