Previous posts on The Fear I-IV were culled from an autobiographical work called Wreck of Being. It mawkishly details my budding understanding of existentialism through four moments: watching The Wizard of Oz, attending a Leafs game and two Grateful Dead concerts. The book concludes with trite, rambling reflections on what The Fear means.
Now for my truisms: “Bad layering makes for bad burning”. Like every layer – everything from our friends and family to work and dreams – we learn what we need so that survival can be as straightforward as possible. We cannot operate our intelligence without confining it to contexts; to attempt to grasp all facets of existence outside a framed perspective is impossible, would result in a direct confrontation with The Fear and thus insanity.
Truism #2: “Tightly bundled minds cannot breathe.” A perspective must be maintained, but it must not be too confining. The Fear has to be understood and dealt with from time to time, for The Fear is the lurking reality of our universality, of our very irrelevance. It exists and cannot be ignored. Perspectives are vital to living a sane life, but they cannot be fixed. To live within a box of work, wife, whiskey and whist only makes the inevitable meltdown all the more forceful.
And thus my third and final truism: “Layers and The Fear kept in the right balance makes for productive years.” The time in warm and cool layers – the vast majority of years – will always be remembered as the coziest, though the time with The Fear will be the most vivid and affecting. An equilibrium lies somewhere; each to their own.
The second time that The Fear struck was on my birthday. I think my eleventh. My father gave me two tickets to see the Toronto Maple Leafs. A Leaf hockey game for me then was the ultimate experience. I took a friend as my father didn’t really like hockey and thought that I might be happier on my own. The seats were great – center-ice reds – and we were up on the visiting team early. And then it hit me again. It wasn’t as strong as the first time. I seemed almost to have control over it. I could rationalize it.
Why was I sitting here watching this nonsense? Who gave a damn who scored what and when? The whole thing was a farce designed to brainwash and control. Nobody cared about winning. It was the popcorn, furs and dinners, the money, being part of the scenery that people cared about. The blue leaf could just as well be a red wing. I especially hated the silence between play, the organ occasionally filling that with carnival tunes. Eventually, it passed, but the evening had been depressing. We had won, but I didn’t give a damn. I just wanted to go home and get into bed.
The Robinson Treaty made in the Year 1850 with the Ojibewa Indians of Lake Huron, conveying certain lands to the crown of Canada is a stark reminder of a history to regret.It’s very officious, legal and permanent-sounding: “…the sum of two thousand pounds of good and lawful money of Upper Canada…to convey unto Her Majesty, her heirs and successors for ever, all their right, title and interest to, and in the whole of…eastern and northern shores of Lake Huron, northern shores of Lake Superior, together with the islands…” The fact that our history is centered on stories like this – stealing tens of millions of acres of land to bleed it dry – inspired me to write a book some years ago, now being transformed into an illustrated novella: Manitou Island.
“Asawasanay.” Norma poured him a glass of water. “That’s a beautiful name.”
“I was named after one of my forefathers. His name is on the Robinson Treaty, the treaty that signed away all of these lands.”
“I don’t understand,” Gerbi replied. “I mean, isn’t there some kind of custom to what you’re doing here? Don’t you have rituals or anything like that?”
“What would you have me do? Appear on a white stallion? Or perhaps you envisioned a birch-bark canoe.”