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Shock Treatment

By Alec Rene


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"{They} live like this, sheltered in a delicate world and believe [they] are living. Then you read a book, or take a trip or talk with [a fellow writer] and discover that it is not living, it is hibernation.


The symptoms of hibernation are easily detectible... first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death); absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices, they drive a car, they raise children and then some shock treatment takes place... a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death."

Anais Nin.



     An incredibly extraordinary person sent that quote to me.  At the time, I regarded it as a very insightful piece of literature.  Yet, as the days progressed I read it more and more, trying to figure out why it seemed to pull at me so; and then it struck me.  This was my sign.  A tiny quote pulled from the Diary of a woman who some might view as insane, but whom I regard as the grantor of my life altering epiphany. 


     This is me.  I exist in a world that is no longer moving forward; caught between constancy and insanity.  Why, you might ask, would anyone let themselves live such a life?  It is simple really; it is all that we know. The long ago and wonderfully childlike dreams that we embraced with such vigor have vanished.  They have long been forgotten.  In their place we have shoved all the adult-like expectations that the world hands out in bushels.  Get a job, have a family, read your bible and die a dutiful Christian.  No longer do we dream of being firemen and ballerinas’ or even the President of the United States.  We just except and do what we are told; how sad, how dismal.  If one is given the opportunity, as I have been, to realize that something in their life is amiss; they will stop and wonder.  Is this it?  Is this what I have been waiting to become an adult for?  The inexorable exercise of rising each morning to screaming offspring, honking horns and demanding bosses.  How dreadful!  At least this is the thought that crossed my mind when I read the exquisite quote from Anais Nin. 


     Life, if but an endless hibernation has absolutely no meaning.  Sure, some make a lot of money and others pass a legal bill or two. But what exactly have they done to enrich their own lives, their souls?  No, this is not intended to sound like a self-serving question; only a realistic one.  If we go through life performing expected tasks, which at the time may cause some slight recognition, but not enrich one’s own soul…what, I ask again, are we living for?  As a side note, I do not say these things in the pretentious manner of someone who has figured it out.  I speak as one who has realized that a change is needed, and whom is embracing the unknown with open arms.  Of course I am afraid, who wouldn’t be?  But I am more afraid, horrified in fact, of standing still.  I have become restless, bored, and take no pleasure, absolutely none, in the daily life I live.  To put it simply, I am in a rut.  But the fact of the matter is I realize it.  I am taking steps to seek out those dreams that have been stained with the contamination of the adult world; and not only that, but to try and make them come true.  Of course, reality is reality and no matter what dreams I try to achieve, there is that realistic possibility that they will not come true.  But the point, ladies and gentleman, or even no one at all, is that I am trying. 


     Now, I don’t want to give the impression that this quote alone had the power to shock me from my course of a meaningless life.  My true awakening occurred in the form of a woman.  I discovered, and was discovered by the one and only person in this world who could see into my soul.  She brought me out of a coma; she is good at that.  At the old yet still young age of twenty-three, I had prepared myself for a life of hibernation; a life of the incessant duties that have been programmed, and if not learned accurately, virtually beaten into us from the very beginning.  Make lots of money and live prosperously. It seems as if this is the dream that is circulated from one generation to the next.  Yet in her own way, she led me to a path that didn’t end in a blind and eventless existence.  I was helped, bull-dozed and cajoled into realizing that this is not all life has to offer me.  I have dreams and fantasies that should be pursued, attempted and even sometimes failed. Neither of us are fortune teller’s or seers into the future, so our life’s outcome has not been handed to us on a silver platter.  However, I am taking that plunge into the world of the unknown to take that risk.  This is probably and will most likely be the hardest and most terrifying thing that I have ever ventured to undertake.  Yet I am one of the lucky one’s.  My soul mate is waiting to grasp my hand and hold me from the fall into the abyss of monotony that many of us plummet into everyday, without ever knowing that you have taken the plunge. 


     My soul’s awakening came in the form of words, music and love; in the combination of the three.  Simple things; experienced by one if not all every single day of their lives.  The written word has been a part of my life ever since I can remember.  It has provided me solace in my most desperate hour of need.  It has lent me a fantasy in which to escape when this cruel reality had become too much for me to bear.  All around is some form of splendor expressed in the form of words; the most magnificent creation that I have found in my limited lifetime.  Even when the world seems to warp every sound that is uttered from my apprehensive lips, therein lays the gift of the pen and paper.   This forte allows me the capability of expressing what is pounding against my mind and soul for a means of freedom.  By the simple combination of letters, words, and phrases; a world of understanding can be awakened.


     My second lesson was given to me in the form of music.  A creation; birthed from the amalgamated womb of language and harmony of the soul.  As everyone is familiar if not a willing participant in this form of expression; it would be tedious to attempt to delve into its depthless history.  In each of us, a single thread of this history resides based on an indescribable intimacy that links our soul to music in some form or fashion.  This is my haven.  A place I seek out when the written word is not quite enough to interpret my soul.   A melody of movement and color that dance undetectable, [that are] beyond the reach of the human eye.  The glory and magnificence can only be viewed from within the heart of hearts.  Even in my never ending study and creation of this art form, I am still unable to comprehend the source that lies behind its power.  Perhaps the understanding comes from letting go with the mind and embracing with the soul.  


     My final and in no way least important vision was love.  This was given and accepted by my heart, my precious Angel.  It was she whom inadvertently guided me to the understanding that all three are combined.  To hold one dear is not to revere another any less.  This, is one of our many collective delights; the pleasure, [of] each these glorious entities.  I speak of them as living, breathing beings because simply, that is what they are.  Perhaps not dwelling on this physical plane, in which we reside, but communing in a more sacred and blessed place; within each of us.  Of all three, it will be this particular segment that I am most grateful.  It is futile to try and justify or offer an explanation as to what or from where this love was birthed.   The key to this mystery is locked away deeply within the rare link that binds my and the soul of my Angel.  That brilliant key has linked two souls together that have been searching for centuries and have finally found one another.  For this, I am blessed. 


  For a horrific and blind moment, I had closed my heart and soul to each of these gifts.  In my minds eye, I had been failed.  Yet what I came to realize is that I had failed each of them.  Shrouded in the suffocating veil of everyday life, I purposely locked each tightly away within myself.  By some chilling psychosis, it was decided that none would aid me toward the success in which we all strive to achieve.  Putting away my Barbie dolls and fairy tales, I plunged into the American dream of success.  My idiocy occurred when I failed to realize that there is no such thing as The American Dream.  Is it pragmatic to believe that each and every single individual shares the same wish? Fantasizes of achieving the exact same goals?  In my opinion, this is not possible.  If that were so, then America would fail to be what it is renowned for.  No longer would we be human beings, with unique thoughts, hopes and identities.  We would exist only to benefit the so called American Dream.  I myself like to think that the dream that America has for me, is to be what ever I choose to be.  To achieve that goal in my own fashion however I deem suitable.  Not to be a mindless drone born only to do what it is told; to think as the rest. 


 I am sure my devotion and the ecstasy that I draw from these three things is quite apparent.  In no way am I implying superiority within any of these medium.  I am yet a babe, suckling from the tit of my humanity.  {I am} begging to be granted a form of expression; a way in which to share my discovery with the world or even just one individual.  Not the solution to this plague that we have all contracted at some point or another.  But a glimpse into the life of one who has opened [their] eyes wide and is seeing the nightmare in which we are ensnared; this horror in which we perform like mindless robots; and do so happily without a second thought.  Perhaps you will read this and wonder if I have lost my mind, or perhaps I will lead you to take the steps in finding the key to your awakening. This may come in the form of a simple deviation from the norm that will serve as your shock-treatment from a world that is not yours; an existence which is floating endlessly in the same place; awaiting the inevitable.


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