Sometimes healing involves chasing phantoms. Memories and emotions haunt and can enslave the psyche with after-images on the retina. Other times, recollections are a calming presence that quiets the mind with the understanding that I am fine…that it’s OK to forget about things for a while. And so I do.
I am very nearly always OK.
I have heard it said that if you want to be good at something, you find a master. Shakespeare said, “Everyone can master a grief but he that has it.”
Shakespeare never met Carter.
Well, I could live in a nest of wizards and wise men and never arrive at the intrinsic nature of the human experience so well as having a sleep-over with our grandson, Carter. He is a creator and a wordsmith. His brilliance always dispels my dullness.
I can be a tangled ganglion of dualities, complexes and contradictions. I can pound my bulk down the pavement, battling fear and anxiety, searching for a small measure of deranged tranquility. And then Carter arrives with his imaginative universe, re-organizes my cranium and conducts me into the brave new world of my own mind.
And we play.
Carter entertains me with his kinetic talking. His mind is a network of psychic energy…a lightning rod for the paranormal. It’s the Tao of Carter.
We begin every adventure with timed trials in competitive eating, which is our privilege as apex predators of fast food and pizza home delivery. “Pop-top thumb” is a natural consequence of opening copious cans of root beer to guzzle throughout the course of the evening. As soon as our basic survival needs are met… and exceeded…the fun begins.
We invent worlds without end and universes without rationale or reason, populated by inhabitants with alien protoplasm, melon-heads, and human growth hormones. Of course, there is always a measure of foul slime waiting to suck us into its depths.
Carter considers me a kindred spirit with a degree of competency. He is generous. I work hard not to disillusion him. But I do acknowledge his ingenuity is often as ungraspable as a Zen Master’s riddles.
One day, he seemed to be talking in tongues. It was akin to a medieval language. His fantasy universe centered on pawns, minions, peasants, beasts, shields, dragon-slayers and lairs. There are a lot of “forsooths,” “quoth he’s,” and “over yonders.” We even got out the marbles and played “Bowling for Serfs.” Well, I got so caught up in it all, I began to quote Chaucer in my best middle English:
Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Carter was duly impressed and asked which video game I got that from. I told him it was called “The University of Utah Master’s Program.” He just smiled.
We are inventive in creating our empire. We have the “Pillow of Death,” the dragon-slaying bobbie pins, the cottonball of mercy and the Q-tip of justice. Things that might appear commonplace to the uninspired.
Our mission is a holy crusade to vanquish evil, avenge the despicable, and eradicate fiends, demons and adversaries.
Above all, Carter admonished me never to be “strongless.”Hmmmm. Strongless, you say?
Yes, strongless. If you are strongless, you are in danger of becoming “courageless” and “weakful.” It diffuses your power.
I thought about that for a long time. I do not want to be strongless, courageless, or weakful. I cannot afford to have my power diffused. I concluded I would harness Carter’s philosophy and go out into the world bold and confident as I face my demons and dragons. I will NOT go over to the Dark Side.
The other day, my son-in-law advised that I need to get shots for flu, whooping cough, pneumonia and tetanus. Really??!!! Are you sure??? CRAP! Deep in the private chambers of my soul, I dread the whole idea. It makes me whine and use obscenities. But I have learned to be intrepid and gritty from the Master of Valor, and I will not disappoint. Tomorrow morning I will use my powder puff of Might and my blush of Right. I will clean my teeth with the dental floss of Truth. And then, like Don Quixote, I will run where the brave dare not go, face my fears, and conquer the malevolent Superbugs of the Universe. I will not shrink from my appointed rounds. I will enter Dave’s clinic, confront his nurse, and with a robust voice of beefy determination proclaim, “HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT!” And then I will leave the exam room, trailing streams of glory like smoky vapor on the horizon.
Crap. I just hope I remain continent.
Becoming master of one’s self is a daunting task. But I am determined to prevail. I owe it to my young Yoda, Carter. However, due to scheduling conflicts and prior commitments on my day-planner, eradicating fiends, demons and adversaries is extremely inconvenient at the moment. I may postpone becoming my own Master until next week, when Dave’s nurse is on vacation.