Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Dangers of the Blue Pill -- A Confession

Addiction is not too strong a word for what happens when I get the occasional free moment to surf the web. I don't know the world of internet porn, but I am guessing that the pull of that, for some, is no less strong. I'm not that into Facebook, but hear that too can become compulsive. No, I've settled into a my own cyber heroin.

My "thing," my game, is to find the best deal on Craigslist. Specifically, I look for nice bikes at bargain prices. I track them down with all the persistence of a detective on the trail of a serial murderer. I compare brands, components, condition, year, trends, and add it all up to a kind of mental Blue Book for bikes. I then winnow down the candidates to the deal of the day.

Yes, I can hear you responsible types out there. I could be putting my left brain to better use by researching or writing things that would bring me prestige or publication. What's the fun in that?

I don't need these bikes, and don't actually buy them, but I am obsessed by them.

Here is what I understand about why I do this.

I wanted a bike as a kid, and I didn't get one, until it was too late. That bike would have been the ticket to acceptance by the local bike gang -- Hobie, Seth, Pug, Mook -- all of the cool kids. They had Schwinn Sting Rays, Lemon Peelers, Apple Krates, stick shifters, slicks, sissy bars, and banana seats. These were expensive bikes, way beyond what I and my family could afford. But these had them and rolled around the neighborhood like princes. I had an old piece of pig iron junk that my sisters had outgrown.

Now, when I look at the listings on line with money in my pocket, I see them still. And I see me rolling now, in 2014, along the trails near Flagstaff, on a cool, carbon, 29er Santa Cruz Tall Boy, with my new gang, now in our fifties and sixties. It is a hazy, cheesecloth vision of finality, of realization, redemption, and fulfillment.

Funny how things persist, how the desire to make right something that cannot be made right lingers there in the folds of consciousness.

This illusion, this fantasy, this unmet and requited need for membership runs beneath my days teaching, writing, supervising, and advising.

Every once in a while, it gets out of control and I abandon my work to indulge in the fantasy, haunting the listings on line, the electronic manna. I hope to find it somewhere in there, that long-lost ticket to recognition and status among my peers.

I know that it will never meet that unmet childhood need, that the game is over, that I lost. But I can't give up hope that I might get a second chance to make it right.

Self-help people are quick to remind me that it's never too late to have a happy childhood. Well, maybe.

Another take reminds me that it's hard to wake up to reality, to take the red pill, to admit that the illusion isn't what I really want, what is really good for me.

Morpheus of The Matrix, waits for me, red pill in hand, his knife sharp, ready to cut the electronic umbilical cord, rabbit hole exposed.

It's time to ascend to the very uncontrollable reality outside cyber space and go for a ride on one of those ganga machines. 

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