Veteran of the Psychic Wars

If things get any weirder, I’ll have to check the water supply. Just when I thought things were going to calm down, this weekend delivered a better curveball than any I’ve ever seen in Major League Baseball. And I want it all to go away, just for a day.

I had a different attitude about change once. Change isn’t necessarily bad. It’s the way of the universe. There would be no life without it. Every belief and creed is based on that: God calls forth Light; Vishnu dreams a new dream; a void explodes; the end of a cosmic status quo. Change can be exciting. I can’t be the only one to think so.

Still, some people panic. They run and hide, assuming the worst, lashing out. They hold true to the ancient Chinese curse and make it prophecy. May you live in interesting times. So you can imagine what a downer it is when somebody freaks out and you have to spend the next several days picking up the pieces.

I’ll bet you’ve noticed a total lack of hard info in my kvetching here. I won’t go into the specifics, not here. I’m tired of that. It’s the trend, not the event, that’s getting to me. The schtick, not the dialogue.

I’ve spent the last few days kicking ass and naming names. I never wanted to do it in the first place. I keep getting volunteered to be the pointman in someone else’s war, knocking down their personal demons just to defend myself. I want to speak in a soft tone, civil, mature and sensible. I’m tired of shouting. I feel like I ought to carry around a water cannon just to have it on hand in case someone flips out again.

Again. It always happens again. No rest, no peace. The pace and the tension goes up a notch every day. It takes so many energy–sheer willpower–to keep someone under control when they don’t want to be. Each day for the last three years, my will gets spent faster than I can recover it. It gets harder to get out of bed. To eat. To write. To care. And I have to keep doing it because no one says it should stop. No one except me, anyway.

Hence the references to Blue Oyster Cult at the top. (No, no fraggin’ omlaut. Deal.) The song of that title was based on Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion, the cosmic hero reincarnated again and again to yet another conflict he must resolve. In college I lost my interest in the mordant weariness of the character in all his guises. When my life began to take on the tone of those stories, I finally understood the character. He wasn’t morbid or world-weary. He was burned out. The battle between Order and Chaos never ends. In it, ethics become a luxury.

I’m the only one playing by a set of rules. A few entries back, I raised the question of whether preying on other people was the right way to go. It’s times like this when the idea seems the most appealing. I feel beaten down, and yet the only time anyone gives any quarter is when I beat them down in return. It happens so much that I wonder whether this is supposed to be Life’s Great Lesson or something. I was raised to believe in the Golden Rule. Left to my own devices, that’s how I’d do things. But that doesn’t protect me…more like the opposite. It leaves me vulnerable to those who won’t play by the same rules. I’m forced to fight just as dirty just to make them back off. And the arguments get more brutal, more draining, each time.

Ironically I started the weekend on a very different note…courtesy of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Jamie got a copy of the DVD in a steal of a deal, so I filled my brain with webbing for almost 24 hours. It brought up a lot of memories.

Strange as it sounds, I learned more about ethics and morals from comic books and the Bible more than I ever did from my parents. Even now, I see ol’ Spidey as a spiritual mentor. A totem, maybe? And while lots of people have written off Sam Raimi’s flick as just another soul-sucking, money-hungry Hollywood blockbuster, he captures the heart of that character. For all the garish color and adolescent wish fulfillment, there is a strong philosophical message in Spider-Man. “With great power comes great responsibility.” That’s the whole point of the character and thus the movie. The script places protagonist and antagonist on opposite ends of the issue of power. The Green Goblin represents a reckless, selfish use of power, the darker and older instinct in humanity. Spidey has realizes that someone else suffers when power is used selfishly. He made that mistake once and, as Spider-Man, struggles and sacrifices to atone. Instead of being a martyr, paralyzed and impotent, he grows into maturity and becomes something greater than he was at the start.

And it’s that message that informs my actions, even now, after three decades. I just hope I have the strength to stay in there and…well, keep swinging.

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