People are small and insignificant while being galaxies worth of complexity and the arbiters of purpose and significance. I remember feeling so small in my windowless office and daily routine. I watched so many days go by crunching data and doing what I was told. I have kids and a wife and am constantly ashamed of how that seems like not enough. How raising my son is not as fulfilling as I think it should be.
This pattern this flowchart of thought is why I say people are galaxies worth of complexity, if my wonderful loving wife had sat down in our simple loving home and asked a simple loving question “are you happy?” I would have said “yes!” Maybe we would have made love, maybe would have ran down the hall and had a tickle fight that swept our wonderful boy into a whirl wind euphoria of desperate hugs and kisses with enough I love yous said to drown out whatever terrible sounds were happening in the world. I have a good life.
Yet there is a temporal sadness that weaves through life. Like cream in coffee that you don’t stir in. I do that sometimes. I don’t stir the cream in so I can taste the coffee and cream separately. I am careful not to jostle it so that I can taste them separately. Once they are together they can never be separated. This sadness is like that. If my life were to be jostle they might forever be together and never separated.
Once I confided in a friend about this sadness. He suggested that I might be depressed. In considering that I researched and came to know the symptoms of depression. As I read off the possibilities I found that people don’t really know what depression is. It Seemed like a lot of the symptoms contradicted each other. I came to the conclusion that I was not depressed but was instead dealing with something maybe more spiritual than anything. Like a vitamin deficiency but metaphysical. The days ground on though and I would run into a vein of sadness and then back to normal life just like coffee and cream that haven’t been stirred.
Have you ever been showered with sewage? I have. Sewage that is so raw so fresh it has not yet turned wholly into a liquid. The pipe burst; catastrophic failure is what they called it. My office was directly bellow the upper floors bathroom. Right bellow a swanky office with it’s own john. Well whoever was using that bathroom and the other bathrooms above that one had eaten something truly terrible. The pipe was quite old and apparently defective because it crumbled right above my desk. Thank the Lord that it was just me in the office that day.
The ceiling tiles melted away under the liquid weight and the fecal and urine of those that worked above me cascaded down in an impressive and horrifying torrent. I threw up, I was so disgusted I was paralyzed. It felt like I was trapped in there forever. In reality I was in there for seconds. My boss gave me a few days off for my troubles and the entire floor had to move to another part of the building while the smell and waste was cleaned up.
I feel like that is when it and me met. The next few days I got progressively weaker. A quick doctors visit some vitamins and an antibiotic and I was back on my feet. Feeling good and loving my family. Days passed I went back to work the following Monday and the days continued in routine in love and contentment.
It was ten days before the first sign that something was not quite right. From a dead sleep I felt it. A compelling motivation a pulling in by mind and body. For the first time in my life I had a midnight snack. I ate a piece of bread, tomato, mayo and nutella. It was the most delicious thing that had ever passed through my lips. Even now the memory of eating that sandwich is almost as good as the event itself. It was so good that of my own volition I made one while home alone and it was not good. All of those things taste good but do not work together.
My confusion continued as a sharp sudden pain began to occur sporadically in my lower back. Each time it would happen it would both be slightly higher and be followed by another compelling motivation.
Click click I need to go stand in the sun.
Click click I need to eat some of this grass.
Click click I have to hide in the yard.
The constant motivation that never left me was to not be seen naked at all. Me and my wife have enjoyed a very happy and healthy sexual relationship. My desire to not be seen naked was defiantly getting in the way.
Let me explain these motivations I never had the thought “this is something I wanted to do.” Not like eating because you are hungry or wanting to take a trip because you need a change of pace. No these had no precursor thought or pattern that just suddenly were and I must obey.
So the not being naked was getting in the way of sex. Finally she took matters into her own hands. I will leave out the details but lets say she pulled out all the stops and I found I could indeed overcome these motivations. Unfortunately the night came to an abrupt end when she suddenly stopped and covered her mouth in shock.
Down my back was what appeared to be a long uniform growth under the skin, snaking it’s way down my spine. That night we packed up our son and went to the hospital I went into the emergency room showed them by back, I was x-rayed and put in an MRI. The verdict was surprising. A parasite, something akin to a hook worm had grown to impressive portions and had found it’s home over the top and wrapped around the base of my spine. What is even stranger is that in that very hospital worked a man named Dr. Ranbir.
He came to my room, as me and my wife cried. Not because I had been given a death sentence but because the unknown is so much scarier. Dr. Ranbir explained that he had seen this before back in India. He called it an albino parasite. It was indeed a hook worm but it was an abnormality it simply had broken genes that caused it to grow and behave this way. Obviously our first question was what do we do? He showed us how it had a hold of my spinal-cord and how, it being an animal, they could not guarantee that I would either survive a removal or that the animal would not damage my nervous system in response to being forcibly removed.
We spent the night in the hospital. That night I laid in bed and considered what I might do next. Humans so small and insignificant. Here I am the pinnacle of human achievement. I am sheltered, smart, able and a worm has taken up residence in my body and has me by arguably one of the more important parts.
Click Click I will go home. Home is where we need to be.
We talked about it in the morning and the doctors though concerned asked if I would do a checkup often; but that really till it’s life cycle ended there was nothing they could do. Dr. Ranbir suggested that most likely it could not reproduce as it was abnormal in it’s genius. Home is where I want to be.
The next few weeks were strange. Either the worm hid it from me or compelled me that the behavior was not strange. I not only took to eating dirt and dry wall but my mood was erratic. I was driving “click click” I need to turn right and go stand in that fountain. Pulling across three lanes of traffic and jumping a median to get to a fountain can put a strain on your passengers. What my wife did not know is that I had been gathering things. A lighter, a hatchet, some dried ready to eat meals that you might take camping.
Sleep left me a few days before the end. I had been striving to lead a normal life but the motivations were coming quicker and quicker and getting weirder and weirder. Till one night as I was laying in bed I felt the motivation to run; and I did. I packed up my hatchet about three days worth of dried food my lighter and the clothes on my back. I jumped in the car and drove.
During that drive I thought about how I was letting my wife and son down. I thought about how great my life was and how silly it was to feel sadness. I thought about how silly it was to expect myself to always be content with life no matter how good it was. The galaxies inside of me opened up and it poured out ever single thing I had not felt since this dammed thing had taken up residence. I cried I felt small, insignificant, significant and unknowingly deep all at the same time. I also drove not knowing where to go except for the “click click” at the base of my skull. “Click click” drive till you are out of gas. I ran out of gas in the Ouachita National Forest. I got out of the now starved car, I gathered my things and I walked.
I walked into the forest and I walked and walked. The motivations had become less motivations and more iron tight commands. I walked till I came to a stream of water bubbling over some stones. It was beautiful. I curled up in a ball and slept on the ground in the night. For three days I would wake up eat consider my state, the world, my wife and son how they must be terrified and then I would sleep again. All the while compelled to sleep and eat by the “Thrumb Thrumb” Now all down my back.
The last night of my kidnapping I took the hatchet and I gathered fire wood. As night descended I built a fire. As the fire caught and took suddenly my mind and body were relaxed. Had I been let go? Had this nightmare ended? I relaxed and looked up into the sky at the stars. The sky was three D and I was so very thankful that it was over. Then the sensation came back with ultimate urgency. “Thrumb Thrumb.”
This time over my whole body. The fire was at it’s hottest and I went and gathered leaves wet leaves, dry leaves and threw them on the fire till it gave no light but only thick smoke. “Thrumb Thrumb.” I fell to my knees next to the fire and breathed deeply the smoke. It burnt my lungs, it hurt my eyes. I wanted to cough but could not I wanted to scream but all I was allowed to do was fill my lungs with the smoke and then darkness.
I dreamed for the first time in over a month and a half and I dreamed of sadness and of contentment and of the deep truths that man is destine to discover and then forget. When I woke up my shoulder hurt, my back hurt, my legs were stiff and the upper part of my shirt was blood stained. I had an exit wound near my collar bone. The worm was gone and I was free.
Getting home was a matter of hitch hiking to the closest gas station and calling my wife, who had been sure I was dead. After a hospital stay and a clean bill of health, I was back to my old routine except my coffee had been stirred. Not by some perceived tragedy or misunderstood internal dialog. I had been hijacked, kidnapped by nature, my cream and coffee where together my sadness and contentment were mixed. I knew just how small and big we all are. How insignificant and yet so significant we all must be and for once I drank deep the mixture.
Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash