No, he was remembering....
It was 1987. I was in sixth grade, and it was spring.
I've traced the fall of my life back to one day, April 9th, 1993, but thats not the tale I wish to explore this evening.
I forgot, or never knew, where it began for me. Where it really began.
It was 1987. I was in sixth grade, and it was spring. My teacher's name was Mrs. Davis, an older German lady who was obviously well educated. She spoke multiple languages, including English, French, and her native German among others, though she carried a thick accent from her mother tongue that never quite went away.
It was nearing the end of the school year, and young minds were wandering as they are wont to do, with thoughts of long lazy days of summer vacation looming ahead, and the idyllic boredom that is both blessing and curse that would come with it. She was trying valiantly to teach us about World War II, but we didn't "Get" it, having never felt with any form of oppression in our cable-tv fueled children's lives.
It was 1987. I was in sixth grade, and it was spring. Mrs. Davis decided to try to get our attention in a different way to teach us about World War II and the conditions that they lived under. She did so by beginning to scream at us in German.
It's funny how you quickly begin to understand a foreign tongue when it is being bellowed at you. The words maybe not, but we all clearly understood to look forward. Sit up straight. Don't move. Don't talk. And we understood the sound of a ruler being slammed upon the desk to punctuate her words.
A lot of children learned fear that day.
She began to stalk up and down the aisles in which we sat, eying us viciously, and continuing to speak in her mother tongue in that harsh commanding tone. One by one she stared us down, showing us how small we were, how weak we were. It wasn't that she was trying to frighten or demean us, but rather trying to teach us, to show us what it was like during that time.
I understood it. Not many did.
And I didn't like it.
I remember clenching my little fists as she roamed up and down the aisles, carrying her ruler like a swagger stick. I remember her stopping in turn at my desk as she had done all the others, and boring her piercing gaze into mine.
Something happened just then, that I only recently realized the weight of. She smiled, and looked at me strangely. She said "Oh ho, now you, you would have been trouble." She said it in that thick, unforgettable accent of hers.
I didn't uderstand it then. I only now do.
I was stunned by her pronouncement, but was soon forgotten as her mood broke, and she smiled again, and returned to her normal self. Several of the other children began to ask her "What about me, Miss? Would I have been trouble?" she answered no, to their disappointment, each in turn, which seemed to only earn me the wrath of the larger boys who fancied themselves lone wolf isolationists who were prepared to be trouble.
I remember that Mrs. Davis tried to challenge me. She gave me books to read, not as in novels or advanced texts, but rather books like Reader's Digest's How to Increase your Word Power, which was full of words that not even my precocious young mind knew the definitions to.
My mother always accused me of stealing that book.
There were other books I devoured that she had given me, not all of them I remember save for the thousand page Word Power book I mentioned.
But I'm drifting. It was 1987. I was in sixth grade, and it was spring, and my schoolteacher had advised me that I would have given the Nazis trouble.
Astute payers of attention will note that at around this same time, in Van Nuys, California, a certain battleship gray Chevrolet Camaro was rolling off the production line.
The lion stirred in his sleep, drifting further into memory.
My mother used to tell me that I was "born angry, and haven't gotten over it yet." She also used to tell me such encouraging things as "you have a perfect criminal mind," and "you're just like you're goddamned father." As mother is the word for god to most children, I took these things to heart, and never questioned their validity until given the free time to do so recently. I always assumed I was fueled by, ruled by, and devoted to nothing more than simple anger and rage.
But that wasn't it. Anger is only a feeling. It's a tool. It's the reaction I was having to something else, the motivation behind everything I do, both consciously and subconsciously.
That motivation is simple. It's Defiance.
To understand this, you have to understand my basic world view. Authority, as defined by me, is the recognized or cited supervisory and overseeing person or comittee that generally attempts to tell people what they should be doing, and where, when, why, how, and with whom.
There's a key word in there though. Recognized. I...don't recognize anyone as being superior to me. We're all the same flesh and blood. We all are subject to both the strengths and frailties and greatnesses and terriblenesses as the one next to us. This is not to say that I feel that I am better than everyone else, (other than the one's I'm better than) (That's a joke) but rather that I am just different, seperate, and equal. Not parents, not teachers, not police, not military officers, not bosses, no one. Should I EVER show submission or supplication to another living soul, it is because they have earned either my respect, my love, or my admiration, and once given, it is unquestionably theirs.
Until you bite me, that is. Then it's on, and all bets are off.
Given this newfound epiphany, I have re-examined certain portions of my life and applied this newfound information.
Example: Easiest way to get me to do something is to tell me that I can't. Not that I shouldn't, or that it might not be the best idea, but that I flat out am not capable of doing so. This will put me into a semi-obsessive mindset that will leave me applying each and every erg of my mental and physical energy working to prove you wrong.
The easiest way to get me to NOT do something is to either tell me to directly, or point out how everyone else is.
Mom always wanted me to conform. She advised me to, begged me to, threatened me when I didn't.
Dad wasn't much better.
1988. Clarice Setzer, the babysitter, told me to help the other children clean up the play room. I informed her that because I had not been a party to contributing to the mess, that I would also not be a party to cleaning it up. Three things happened. The first was that she said that I had to, and if I didn't, she would be informing my parents. I offered to call them for her and explain the situation. The second was that she informed me that if I did not help, that I would not be eating lunch that day. I nodded and explained that I wasn't hungry anyway.
Then she put her hands on me. She grabbed me by the wrist, and attempted to force me to pick up a puzzle piece laying on the floor. I resisted. She released me, and realized what she had done, and fled the room. The other children cleaned up the room, and I sat there motionless, and 45 minutes later, she brought me a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich.
I used to think I won something. I used to think I was just a jerk. That isn't so. All I did was remove the illusion of authority by simply questioning it.
2006: My "boss" Mike is in the middle of reaming me, about my job, my attitude, the whole nine yards.
Then he says the words that did it.
"I'm not trying to end your career here David."
You don't have that power, sir. I took it back. I walked out. I decided. Nobody controls my destiny. Nobody owns me.
The instant I walked out...I felt tons better. I thought it was leaving a stressful environment. I now understand that it was simply taking back control.
Now I realize...that it's just me returning to my basic nature.
There's an old parable about a scorpion and a fox, and their attempt to cross a river. The scorpion asks for a ride, and the fox refuses because he knows that the scorpion will surely sting him. The scorpion promises not to, and after a short time, the fox allows the scorpion to crawl up on his back and ride him across the river.
Halfway across the river, the scorpion stung the fox. As they began to dip beneath the water, the fox cursed him. "Why did you sting me," the fox cried. "Now we'll both drown."
"You knew what I was when you picked me up," the scorpion replied. "It's just my nature."
Now, this parable isn't the best illustration of how one should act, but it does explain certain things about my behaviour.
Why 900 people at New Mexico Military Institute couldn't get me to conform or toe their line.
Why every time I reach my breaking point I beg someone to tell me what to do.
Why? Because the second they do...I can say No. I can remember how to Fight.
Anger doesn't fuel me. It's just one of the tools available to me. One of, and not the only, nor the most potent of them.
I know that now.
This understanding opens up in me a wellspring of...not happiness, but contentment. Things are clearer now. I'm no longer confused, or in pain. I know that I may lose out or not recieve or experience certain things because of my nature, but I'm okay with that. If it was that easy, it wouldn't be worth it, and it will keep me from becoming one of the many, many, mindless two-legged cattle that roam across this world. Not to say that there isn't anything good to be said about idyllic idiocy, but it simply is not, and never will be for me.
I feel better. I feel empowerd again, and with this newfound wisdom comes confidence, and with that things are already starting to move my way again.
The lion stirred, and opened his eyes. He yawned lazily and wandered out of his cave, blinking in the long-unseen sun. They were a deep soulful brown, but now flecked with hints of wisdom green. He heard a song in the distance.
In the midst of a dream I swear I saw you... standing there
In a sea of emotion with faithful devotion... you were there
In heat of the night under the street lights... once again
At the edge of the fire for the love of the jungle... again and again, oh yeah
They can't tame the lion
Can't tame the lion
They can't tame the lion
The lion was awake, and he remembered one other thing: the basic unit of humanity was the human, singular and selfish, but the basic unit of lionkind was the Pride, with double entendre intended.
He sat upon his rock and roared once, not in anger, not in pain, nor despair or confusion, but rather in exultation.
"I'm awake," it said. "I am not broken, nor bent, nor sprained, nor will I be. And I'm still here."