Civilization can be such a loaded and ugly term. I mean, sure I’ll admit there are things that I do in the name of such. I was raised to act like a moderately sentient being who doesn’t spend all his time boozin’ and whorin’ and chewing on the language. But as a mentally interesting person there are many ways I’m abundantly familiar with how the word civilization and the standards and practices thereof can conjure graphic feelings of oppression, even horror. I’m NOT going on some Wah-Wah Scientology style anti-Psychiatry rant. I do not wish to flavor this as some sort of sob story about mein struggle or something like that. What I’m getting at is a bit more subtle.
What is sanity? Who gets to define it, or further, to treat it? At what precise point does a person stop being ‘creative’ and become divorced from reality? Why do some people manage to stay relatively functional besides the fact of being basically ‘out to lunch’? These are some of the questions vexing me here as I sit typing to the soundtrack of ‘Don’t Break the Oath’ by Mercyful Fate.
I MYSELF have not, by and large had that bad of an experience with mental health people. I’ve had a few gripes I’ve been powerless to resolve, but by and large I’ve been one of the fortunate ones. A lot of folks never return to work after two severe breakdowns and several hospitalizations. But I have seen people treated like dirt by mental health professionals. People sometimes say I’m crazy. I can live with that. What I feel in such situations is like how politicians make me feel. My gut reaction?
WHO THE HELL ARE YOU TO JUDGE ME?
All hyperbole aside, I’m attempting to be serious here. I don’t begrudge the psychiatric system it’s existence or the things it’s done to chill me the hell out. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a pretty ugly sight when I’m flipping out. In spite of that, I’ve managed to strike something approaching of a relative balance between “civilization” and my more feral sensibilities.
Feral, you say? Yup. Although perhaps primal is more what I’m driving at with it. That which refuses to be tamed, put in a box or otherwise annoyingly inhibited. That which spits and shrieks with pure unbridled fury into the cold void of hell’s machinations striking fear into all which lives. Or something like that.
I like intensity. It’s why I’m a spicy food-crazy Metalhead. It’s why my favorite beers are Stouts and Porters. It’s how I find the energy to roll out of bed before the sun every day. I wake up and look forward to some new form of toe-curling experience, be it music, food or beverage, historical tidbit or whatever else happens to strike my fancy at the time. It’s the very reason I draw breath instead of just playing in traffic. Because I am endlessly fascinated.
Case in point: I once saw the legendary Thrash Metal Band Slayer in Tampa. It was magnificent. Started slow with the opening bands. However, I staked out a spot by the stage and did not let go all night. Slayer was a twisted, sweaty churning mass of screaming gnashing I dare say FERAL behavior. Not people hurting one another, just an incredible release of energy. Slayer was the loudest band I have ever heard in my life. I was ground zero. The low end practically made me nauseous. In retrospect, a terrible thing to do to my hearing. Bah, I regret nothing.
I love Metal and I love going to shows. I feel like it keeps me in steady congress with the most raw and unspoiled essence of my being. It keeps me happy and it keeps me whole, the sense of wonder it brings to my life. Every time I sew a patch on my battle vest, every time I meet a Musician, every time I get a mail order anything. It is the one thing I truly nerd out over besides theatre.
I mean, some people have spider man comics, I have a signed ‘Resurrection of the Ancient Black Earth’ EP by Sadistic Intent. Some people go to cons, I go to see Napalm Death. It has seriously gotten me to where I am now and by that I mean, alive, kicking and not bored to tears. The real beauty of it is how incredibly diverse and spread out it is. You go to parts of the world outside of Europe and the US and it’s simply EXPLODING. The oldschool spirit is alive in so many countries which just came out from under longtime military dictatorships. It’s so inspiring in so many ways.
So yeah, I’ll settle at this point to call myself a semi-feral human. It seems to be working pretty well for me. I was in a lousy relationship for a few years and it just sucked the life out of me. For all I tried it was just a bad situation. As I made the final push to get this person out of my life, I was in the middle of a run of ‘Guys and Dolls’. As lousy as things were on the home front, I didn’t care. I was having so much fun with my 5 parts in that show that nothing else really existed.
Can a person who’s on 3 mg of Risperdal justifiably call himself semi-feral? I suppose I’ll have to leave that to you to decide. I do the best I can. I go to work, try not to smoke or drink too much, pay my taxes and all the other normal people stuff I can think of. Then I snicker and mutter ‘Normal? Is THAT what I am?’
I suppose I’m not that strange a person. I’m just a man of many moods, faces and thoughts I suppose. Theatre just enables me to see things I might not otherwise experience. As my buddy TJ said “Some of the best times of my life were spent pretending to be someone else”. Personally I find a great deal of merit and value in that statement.
I don’t know. As many have said before me “I just do what I do’. Perhaps it’s not that simple. I mean, I tend to sigh and eye-roll at people who think that their self-righteous musings are going to enlighten people or change the world. I just try to communicate experience to the best of my ability. I mean, I don’t have that much, but I do have some.
Work goes okay, my insurance stuff is all sorted out and I should start ADHD meds in a few days. The job goes well, and I just recently conquered my bit of nerves and auditioned for a play. It’s an adaptation of a French Farce called ‘A Flea in Her Ear’. Should be good fun. Even if I don’t get a part, I’m glad I did it. I’ve been in four shows and this is the very first I’ve auditioned for. I didn’t want to get a reputation of being that guy who just gets handed parts. They were roles that were unfilled after auditions that I helped out by stepping into. I’m glad it did. Theatre and Metal have the same core purpose: Conquering one’s fear.