Fool on a Tightrope
This terrible cycle continued in my life; it was my way of avoiding the reality before me.
I stepped right into the fool's world.
With an incredible display of imprudence and lack of wisdom I had played this role in high school and college and now as an "adult." I was the fool. A fool is a silly person. I'd read enough to know the role of the fool and thought warmly of the court jester—a character who plays the clown to entertain all the people of wealth and influence. I played this role growing up. I was like a clown walking the tightrope balancing plates and balls on my nose while whistling calliope tunes—the circus jester entertaining the folks who would look in my traveling-fair.
I went to great lengths to apply my make-up just right. I lived with a painted veil over my life that seemed more fun, more daring, more everything. I felt better having a great fool's mask. I loved walking the tightrope singing my silly songs. The safety net was below; I know I'd be fine if I fell.
And I did fall. In doing so I learned that fine is relative. Sure I'd pick up the pieces, but then found myself quickly wondering, what's next? Being alone and adrift, growing estrangement from friends and family began to feel less and less fine. If fine was the act of "getting by" I didn't want to be fine. I wanted glory and love and power. Modern media mirrored my desires, sex and food and plenty of it. I wanted to rise above the mundane and indulge the rich things in life; the things that made me feel good—that made me feel invincible.
When I fell from my tightrope all my plates and balls shattered and scattered. My mask smeared. My back hurt. My pride hurt. My heart hurt. When I looked around to see what the crowd thought, the stands were empty, no applause. But I was told the crowd laughed when the clowns fell. What about the cheers and the laughs? What about the approval of man? The fool was fooled.
* * *
"You're a believer."
"What are you talking about?"
"You're a believer. Right?"
I didn't know what he was talking about. I was in a club in downtown Boston. The lights and the music pulsed. I was three thousand miles from my family and anyone who really knew my background. How did this guy know me?
"You're a believer."
"Yeah," I said hesitantly. "I am." Oh boy, I need to just cut this discussion short and scram. But part of me liked what he was intimating—that we were connected through spiritual brotherhood. For a moment I felt comfort; this person was obviously a Christian. Somehow from the past he knew me.
"I knew it. You're a follower of Satan. Right?"
"What? No! No!" I tried to yell over the thump-thump of the club.
He laughed at me, turned and left.
I stood frozen. What just happened? Something supernatural had occurred, though I didn't know what, or why. What did that man see in me that led him to believe that I followed Satan? Since college a broad array of drugs was part of my life. If it was 2 a.m. and we needed some more coke, we went after it. It didn't matter that we had to call shady characters across town to get it. Most of us did drugs—it was our social enhancer.