“I was driving on the 5, when this truck up ahead of me slams on his brakes. That’s why I don’t like driving behind anything I can’t see around or over. Like to know what’s up ahead, just in case. Well this was one of those just in case times. A metal pole came flying from nowhere and went through the windshield just inches from me. I could have been dead, but I’m here talking to you. I want to know how come I’m still here, and how you are going to get me through it.”
“It’s not really what I do.”
“They told me you could help. Now I can’t drive, hell, most days I’m worried to go outside, and am afraid to be inside. So where do I go, what can I do. They said, go see this guy, that’s what he does. Helps people get over their fears. Now you are saying that you don’t do that kind of thing. Well then, what is it you do, do?”
I’m not a therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist any of “ists,” really. I’ve helped a few people over time help themselves. Truth be told, I don’t really do anything but point out certain aspects in the story they tell me. They do the rest.
Take Gerald, for instance. He tells me he’s shy. There are a lot of people who think they are shy. I myself am not even sure what the term means, cause it seems to vary with who ever happens to be telling the story. Some can’t talk, or don’t feel comfortable doing so in public. A self confidence issue no doubt, but more than that too.
I’ve heard all the old tales of picturing people in the audience naked, don’t know if it works, cause I never met an audience who themselves were comfortable sitting around naked listening to someone carry on about something most times they don’t care about at all. I’ve been told they have the opposite experience. They see the person attempting to disassociate them from reality, as the one naked. It, they say, don’t make the lesson any more tolerable, but it does put what is being said in the perspective it deserves.
But being naked in public was not Gerald’s problem. He reminded me more of Gus; Gustolph Angeneu Esquire, to be exact. Gus had an identity problem. Not so much with his identity as with other’s identities. He was insistent that most people bored him to death. Now that terminology, all though ill-founded, is used by all sorts of people who have worse identity problems than Gus. I asked Gus why he cared what people were perceived as, or how they perceived themselves. He said he had to think about it for a while.
He went out to have a smoke. He was big on illegal Cuban cigars. He said you could only get them at this one store downtown, run by an Egyptian importer who refused to put the name of his business on the building.
“Identity problems,” Gus offered.
“Gus said you can get the knock-off cigars, now that they are legal,” but he says, “There’s no fun it that.” Anyway, Gus never came back. Heard later he met up with someone on the street who he believed he could relate to, as they wore a mask and a cape. And that was something, he’d always wanted to do, but was afraid he’d be made fun of.
“Sometimes perception is a difficult thing to perceive of,” Gus’s last words the last time I saw him. He apologized for leaving without saying goodbye, but he said times being what they was, “You pass up an opportunity, and you might just have missed the last bus to Singapore.” I had no idea what he was talking about, but as he got on the back of the masked guys motorcycle, he said, “Try not being yourself! It worked for me.” Funny what you learn from people who don’t seem to know what they are talking about, until they do.
Gerald, was getting antsy. He’s asked me several times if what I was telling him was leading anywhere, or did I just like to hear myself think out loud. I hadn’t really thought about it much, but he was right. Sometimes I get lost in my own mind. Last time lasted for several days, but when I came back everything looked different, better somehow. Gerald says that is dissociative behavior at its most potent point.
I didn’t know if he was upset or really attempting to tell me something. I kind of had an idea what dissociative meant. But then, when you are accused of something you don’t understand, I find it best to look it up; get another’s perspective on the subject, being that it relates to you and should have some importance, unless you simply don’t care.
There are several memorable renditions of the word I stumbled across. One was, "the force of skepticism." Well I like skepticism. Means you are paying attention in a world where most people don’t. Dissociatives, are also a class of hallucinogen that distort perception. I suppose if they didn’t distort perception, they’d just distort something else. I guess if you needed something distorted perception is as good as any.
Dissociative disorders involve problems with memory, identity, emotion, and therefore behavior, or sense of self. I liked the last one best of all. Sense of self, kind of has a regal tone to it, if you say it out loud, that is.
Now, the effects of Dissociatives can include sensory disassociation, hallucination, mania, catalepsy, analgesia, and amnesia, according to Wikipedia.
I found the description actually more disturbing than just being dissociated. I’ve personally been dissociated from quite a few things in life, but never really knew how, but now I know why. But it was the effects I found most interesting when you consider my kind of work. Ain’t really work I suppose, unless you consider listening work. Anyway, I understood all the ingredients of being associated, except for catalepsy. I had to look that up. It turns out it is pretty common. A nervous condition characterized by muscular rigidity. You apparently lose the ability to sensate, and you pass out. You'll have to look up sensate, I misplaced my bible.
It wasn’t what I thought it was exactly, but it fit right into Gerald’s problem, or at least I thought so. Gerald, truth be known, drinks too much. He’s been to rehab several times but always forgets he’s been there and reverts back to being Gerald.
I attempt to the best of my ability, to not judge people, lest I be judged. Read that somewhere. I got the gist though. When you start lookin at someone, and then decide on who they are without getting to know them, you are no better than that guy calling me up and asking me to vote for someone I don’t even know. Presumption in my opinion, is as bad as perception, when it comes to believing there is only one right answer, and you are the only one that knows what it is. Well, maybe a couple of your friends too.
Gerald wanted to know how much I charged, and after, I’d given him all the reasons he shouldn’t talk to strangers. Some people, and I don’t mean to judge, shouldn’t be allowed out of the house on their own. The world is an unforgiving place unless you don’t believe in such a thing. And if you do, I’ve been looking for someone to housesit my practice. I plan on going on a trip someday when the cataleptic skies part, and honesty once again means truth. And lies, are disassociated perceptions of a sense of amnesia that roles around every couple of years, just to help us pay attention.
You can find me at the, “Reluctant Participant,” a watering hole just off of the five. Park out back if you got a problem with being perceived.