Posted by: silverback | 2015/01/27

darkness

As I sit here comfortable in my writing chair, those damn dogs are yapping again. Incessantly. My immediate neighbors keep a number of little yapping dogs penned up outside their house. In my head, they’re Pomeranians, or some such tiny dog. I can make out at least four distinct wailing barks, maybe six… The people probably keep them outside because they bark at the sound of the wind rustling the few remaining leaves left on barren winter branches. I’m sure their 60-inch HDTV is probably cranked up to deafening levels as well just to keep the plaintive howls from penetrating. It sucks for many reasons, not the least of which is the itching feeling I get behind my eyeballs when they all start barking frantically in unison.

I think occasionally that I should walk over there and knock on the door to ask them nicely to do something about their goddamn little yappy dogs disturbing my serenity, but I’m afraid to do that. I’m afraid of my darkness. I’m just not at all sure it would be a polite, neighborly exchange. I’m afraid that I might just snap and the words I’m thinking might be the ones that slip out, and then I end up with the weight of remorse and/or shame for my actions.

I had an uncomfortable little daydream about purposefully walking down there with a medium-gauge shotgun and laying waste to all the obnoxious little creatures one at a time…BANG! shick-shick BANG! shick-shick BANG! shick-shick BANG! And then looking calmly into the horrified eyes of those neighbors who had come running at the sound of the ruckus, daring them to speak a word of outrage. Shick-shick.

OF COURSE NOT! See – I love animals. I could never follow through with any kind of plan that would cause harm to a furry little mammal, no matter how piteous and exasperating. When I was about twelve, I once cried for thirty minutes after reading a fucking National Enquirer article about a bunch of rabbits that were maimed and/or killed in a movie shoot. And of course the stupid little yappy dogs are in no way responsible for their situation – it’s their shitty, oblivious, self-centered owners. And of course I couldn’t ever get away with shooting one or more real people…right?

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I’m generally a very tolerant person. I know I do mindless things that likely annoy the shit out of some people. But there’s quite often this very cruelly creative movie running in background, like that Michael Douglas movie where he just cracks one day and goes around LA with a shotgun, righting all the wrongs he can perceive. When I had my big goddamn truck, I can’t tell you how many times I fantasized about simply running people off the road. The thing weighed 7000 lbs and had 600 ft-lb of torque. I am a skilled driver. I’m pretty sure most of the time I would have carried on my way without physical harm, or really even much damage to my vehicle. How many times have you, say, been having heated words with somebody and just fantasized throat-punching them, in a Bruce Lee kind of way? My girlfriend is my actual hero because of an incident involving a mouthy homophobic tourist and a cocktail napkin, but she still wasn’t able to walk away without consequence.

I don’t think it makes me an awful person to have these semi-psychopathic fantasies. I also don’t think I’m so abnormal. I see all kinds of people wrestling with their own forms of darkness. I believe it’s all subconscious babble. Judgments we’ve made concerning how people around us ought to behave; beliefs we’ve adopted for no good reason other than our parents or authority figures in our early years told us what they thought was right; old hurts that we’ve buried out of shame or fear but maybe still feel we’re owed a vengeance – or at least an apology! Our brains are these mixed up gray sacs full of fact and fiction and conjecture, all competing for scraps of meaning. It’s a wonder sometimes that we’re able to maintain a coherent connection with the world in a way that even allows interpersonal relationships.

Sometimes the darkness slips out. We just get pushed to the edge by certain interactions with people who trigger us, or by stress, or by tragedy, or by fear. My son sees glimpses of mine after the fifth time I ask him nicely to not do that thing, and he does it the sixth time. “All of a sudden,” daddy becomes a very loud, scary man. I always feel terrible about losing my shit on this mere child, assaulting his ears with cusswords and harsh criticisms and threats of corporal punishment. He always crumbles, always with the same look of terrified surprise. So far, I’ve always gone back and calmly apologized for my slips, assuring him that my love for him is deeper than the momentary rage. I also practice mindful forgiveness – letting that moment go, because it’s over. No grudges, no guilt. And I usually admit that it’ll probably happen again if he continues the same negative behaviors. Parenting is no joke.

I also believe that like most things in life, the darkness is necessary. We exist in the form of dualities – good/bad, right/wrong, positive/negative, up/down, light/dark. The Universe seeks nothing so much as equilibrium. Without one extreme, the other could not exist. So I think it’s important to acknowledge the existence of my darkness, to be familiar enough with it to understand the ways to keep it in check. But we do keep it in check, right? I guess we have to…

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