Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Pan y Agua (For Germanwings)

Something goes awry in his brain when all the chemicals are doled out. It shows up when things need to get done. Motivation flags when he is asked to do any task that pulls him away from his brooding. He can't engage. The muscles don't listen to commands. Flight schedules stare him down from his desk. Emails grumble in their queue, shifting from side to side, impatient. The light in his office is off and the door is closed because his brain has jammed and he can't get it started.

He runs. With the extra dopamine produced by hard effort he feels better, for a while. He pushes himself, tries harder. He doesn't want to look bad. People expect things from him. People don't like weakness or losers or broken pilots. 

When the black dog comes around, even the easy stuff gets hard. The small stuff sweats bullets and you can forget about the big stuff. His feet feel like they have been set in concrete; synapses don't want to fire. He doesn't want to fly, but fly he must. It's what he does.

He pulls himself out of bed anyway and carries the burden into the day, black dog in tow.  He puts on his uniform. Once in the car, he drives slowly at first, but then some jerk cuts him off or pulls ahead or tailgates and his eyes go red with rage. He curses under his breath, tightens up around his neck and shoulders, and presses the accelerator a little harder.

He hears the news of successful colleagues and mulls over his own failures. He sees that their egos are far beyond their abilities. They are fakes, shams, dilettantes. Their pontifications make him cringe. He doesn't understand how other people can seem so happy.

And the world news... Forget about that too. Rich get richer, and if they so much as break a fingernail it's all over the airwaves and the web while poor people are slaughtered by the thousands without so much as a footnote.

Somehow, he completes the routine flight inspections and finds a way to cover the bases he has agreed to cover. A few radio messages come in and he replies to the tower. He assumes his place at the controls and runs down the checklist. It is long and tedious and irritating. He does his job, but he must hide, always hide. It gets unbearable sometimes.

When a living person needs him to do something, he finds a way to act, but he is always dragging a weight, moving underwater, in the gravity of Jupiter.

He tries to go it alone. He will prove himself, even though he is out of compliance with orders. Giving in, admitting that he needs help or meds, after all, would be cheating, like the dopers he reads about in the sports section. He failed to see there was a difference between taking meds to be healthy and doping for a competitive advantage. To him it was all the same.

Pan y agua. Bread and water. That's how he does it.  He hopes to get stronger on the brooding, the bread, and the water. Otherwise, he might lose his job, be found out, lose his license. He can dream of sparkling stars, lightness, and passion some other day, but not today.

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