What comes after a funeral? New life, of course. But sometimes you have to die to get there.
So it was with me. I was dying, only to be reborn. I wanted to rush headlong into it, to embrace what I knew was coming, to drown in that wind of change. Komm, Susser Todd. (Come, sweet death.)
Thoughts of spiritual death brought back the memories of the physical one that almost happened. I should have died on that balcony eighteen years ago. There were many other incidents in which suicide could have been the only option. I can remember being pushed to the breaking point and beyond, but somehow I never gave up.
People whom I talked to during this period kept on saying “you have your whole life ahead of you” and I got tired of hearing that. It was true. But it also didn’t make up for the past twenty-one years in any way.
Then again, I didn’t need to choose. Both truths could be held in my hands. Life had ended and was also beginning again. Shadow and light, grief and joy. One of the last barriers to fall – displacement. Anything except to feel. Anything except the Bad Things. Block it out, block it out, block it out – but that was my mother again. I was no stranger to either sadness or pain. They could not to anything to me that I had not already done to myself.
I watched some old Youtube videos and I found myself thinking of .hack GU, of Skeith and his scythe. I was ready for the end, for that keen-edged blade to end this life and bring about a new one. Because beyond the Terror of Death lay Corbenik the Rebirth.
Once again Florence knew what I was talking about when I mentioned it even though I doubt she had ever played a single video game in her life. Beyond death…transcendence. Whatever cosmic conjunction I was waiting for had already happened somewhere along the line. After the funeral? The second retreat? Yesterday? Who knew? This was merely picking up the pieces.
I wondered why I wanted to fling myself into this inferno again, to go deep down and out through the other side. I guess I was just frustrated? There had already been too much time spent on useless things, on making do, on playing games that didn’t really matter when there were so many others that did.
I felt the press of time on my back, the big 3-0 once again. But maybe the world was right. Maybe I WAS wasting my life and I needed to move on. The question was how?
The scythe was raised and I bowed my head willingly to it.
Somewhere deep inside I think I was ready. All four aspects of my being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – were now integrated enough to weather the storm and more. I asked for everything to come and it came. Depression, trauma, PTSD, fear, indecision, paranoia, always second-guessing myself and never being sure – I had had enough. I would fling myself into the abyss that I had stared at unremittingly for more than a decade and come out alive or die trying.
I gave up the mind and turned to the body. What I had previously needed months and years to talk about and analyze and discuss came in seconds now. The retreats and the work I had done in almost a decade of therapy were the foundation for the maelstrom of change.
I asked myself what my mom had been asking me for more than 18 years – was this the end? Who would I be after this? There was no way to know. I trusted that whatever I needed would be given. All the pain and darkness as well as all the light and hope that I had ever felt swirled around me once more.
And maybe the truth was far simpler and it’s just like Reiji (a boy after my own heart) in Gundam Build Fighters said – that I’m always fucking serious about what I do, whether it be death, rebirth or anything else.
The past began to peel away layer by layer. Living in the Mum Cave you could never update to the current reality. No one gave me the memo, which I imagine should have read something like this :
and the reasons why? The PhD kept the house, and our lives, in a prison of time for many years. Nothing could come in or out. I didn’t want to give up those dreams that I had not fulfilled. All those years I saw only what I had lost and what I had not gained.
There is an attack in Super Robot Wars which I felt now had to be turned upon myself – Ryuune’s Zoldark’s Engetsu Sappou (Full Moon Killing Art), to be exact.
“Hotoke ni aeba, hotoke wo kiru. Kami ni aeba, kami wo kiru. Waga kokoro wa mohaya kuu no nari, waga mi wa mohaya tetsu nari. Tenmafukumetsu!” (If you were to meet the Buddha, kill him.If you were to meet God, kill him. My heart is already void, my form already steel. I lay waste to heaven and demons alike!) For what you would kill is most assuredly not God or the Buddha, but only your conceptions of them.
So it was with me. I had studied psychology long enough to see the connections clearly. Super Robot Wars was my father, Evangelion my mother. One was active – you played it – and filled with fire and steel and determination. One was passive – you watched it – and dove into emotions, heart and soul. Animus and anima, yin and yang, action and inaction. Two creations of man filling in for the parents that I never had. It was only fitting that what had brought me to this point also gave me the strength to separate from it.
But we all have to leave home someday. I had to change my ideas of God, because they were holding me back. I couldn’t be always waiting to play the games or see the movies to move on. Out of necessity I had put limiters on my soul that now had to be released. It was hard…but I had never shirked from difficulty before, and I wasn’t going to start now, not when I had already come so far.
You know how it is in games and anime where the main character always casts off his outer armor, or transforms into a new form, or goes over some kind of limit that’s supposed to kill him if he tries? Well, it was time to do that for real. A lot of fiction actually has a basis in reality – during one therapy session I saw and felt reality slow down to a crawl, much like they always talk about in martial arts movies. Miraculous returns from near death? I knew all about that. The divine lightning that I had so aspired to grasp for years was now within the palm of my hands.
I loved being in that little room even as I hated it. For years each night I would do the same thing – check for what were the latest gaming releases, download hentai, listen to music and talk to my sister a bit. Play some games, watch some anime. Much of what I had been doing since I was a teenager.
Time had frozen for me. I was caught in a holding pattern not of my own devising but one that I could little about. Every day the same routine. The world was going forwards but I seemed to be caught in place. It was safe. It was comfortable. But it was also killing me slowly but surely. That was no real life but a semblance of one.
I could hear the ringing sound of the scythe being sharpened.
There in that room in my mother’s house, I felt the last temptation, and a powerful one it was. There were so many songs to listen to from yesteryear. I didn’t need to go on, I didn’t need to advance if I didn’t want to. I could be like Stephen in Australia, just listening to and watching things that had ended many years before.
But I couldn’t. I couldn’t let down everyone who believed in me – all my friends, all my dreams, all the heroes that I had seen and been in such awe of. This was a final battle of my own in the dungeon of my mind, against a shadow self that knew me better than I did myself.
There was always time in the past to play every game fully, to go through every area with a fine-toothed comb, to see every scene, watch every movie and to cherish every moment and heartfelt line. But if I did that, life would leave me behind. There was so much else to be lived. The games had brought me to the door…all I had to do was step through.
That’s what you do when you’re an adult, right? Stop playing video games? So many of my friends over the years had told me the exact same thing. “I don’t have time for games anymore.” And maybe for them that was perfectly true. But they could just play for fun. They didn’t need to play to survive.
It was time to let go, to make way for new things. It is the only sane way to live. One of the scary things about being an adult in the 21th century is that if you should choose, you can live in the past. You can surround yourself with nostalgia, with retro (retro is big now!) I kept remembering Stephen and the plush, comfy armchairs in his living room. How many times has he watched Back to the Future? How many more times will he?
At times I felt I was being ripped bodily from myself into a new one – which I was. At other times I was the one doing the ripping.
The grief had done its work. The tears that I had shed formed themselves into another form of the blade, and this time I pointed it at myself. The time had come.
I was ready now. The scythe swung down and bit true. Pain blossomed but I kept going.