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February 10, 2011

RIGHT OF PASSAGE - Part Thirteen - All The Luck, Algernon!

The most poignant, haunting, self descriptive book I ever read was "Flowers For Algernon", by Daniel Keyes. I think I was around 23 at the time, 1976 perhaps. I knew as I was reading it, it was a prophecy of things to come. I really didn't understand then how much of a prophecy it would become.

For a moment, let's step back to when I was around 20. I started community college in the Fall of 1972, fresh out of HS. It was expected of me to go to college, and initially my parents paid the tuition. Since I was a electronics buff, I majored in "electronic technology". I already mentioned the pain I endured passing two semesters of physics.

What I haven't mentioned is, I was going nowhere. Maybe our society is all about people going nowhere, finding themselves somewhere. By definition, that would be the professional career, the beautiful wife, the house with the white picket fence, etc.

All fine, if that's okay to you. What I'm trying to say is the person I was then was not alive. My whole life I was either the underdog among my friends, both physically and mentally, and also, beginning especially in MS, the target of every bully in the school. My life was looking around corners, avoiding certain places. I had very little extra-curricular activity, though for a year I was a member of the ski-club, and had no problems. Unless shyness, and a sense of not belonging counts?

Yes I was very much into electronics and chemistry. I was also into playing by myself in my back-yard at 16 with Matchbox cars and trucks, building roads and cities and dams. I was a loner. Some of the girls liked me, but no way did I know it. Or if I did, what to do. In HS I craved English classes, physics and chemistry, shop and mechanical drawing. In most every place there was a bully or two that made learning second to survival.

HS was a total loss... though A Mr Gunnard, a counselor, made a difference, as did a handful of other teachers, so I did survive. Surviving MS/HS was my victory! What did I learn? Nothing more at the time other than I'd survived. And surviving meant risking going to a school dance only to get punched, or a knife held at my throat. Once by a Native American blood-brother. Now this event would be vitally important... as the dichotomy was we had been friends enough at one point to cut and blend blood, yet later, he held a knife at my throat.

It should be noted, well several things should be noted:

1) My sister, a 1 and 1/2 younger than me was probably one of the most popular girls in MS/HS. And in several cases the very guys that liked to bully me, she was friends with.

Two ways this can work out. 1) leverage 2) getting a lucky break.

2) My parents donated their life at the time trying to help me. They were constantly at the school. They spoke personally to the parents of some of my worst bullies. Ironically, it fed into my dependence on them, and their's of me. This dynamic would contribute to the disaster to follow.

My sister remained and continues to be my best friend. I was the oldest, but she was the wiser, the smarter, the most popular. And in my early 20's I would become the brother she turned to... and essentially, we are like satellites, revolving and holding each other together.

I rarely se my sister, haven't for over 20 years. You might recall I eventually had little choice but to move away. My sister didn't. So we talk occassionally on the phone, have vacations when we meet. I have two brothers too. Both now live in Florida. I live in NH... Land of Lynch, since the Old Man of the Mountain crumbled. An obvious sign that Gov. Lynch was wrong for NH, yet here he is in his third term as governor.

Sorry, ahead of myself.

What I'm trying to say is I had no sense of self. At age 18 I was destined to be a serial killer, sorry to say. I had all the hallmarks... liked to play with fire, no regard for nature, a loner, a late aged bed-wetter, like Sarah Silverman!

But so I'm in college and I have very few friends. Finding a girlfriend is out of the question - my body or mind do not even consider it.I'm on kiddo-pilot, believing adults tell you what to do, and don't trust anyone.

So the mouse Algernon was given an experimental drug, designed to boost it's IQ. It was an apparent, total success! Algernon could wind through the mazes like nothing, and even started to exhibit self-awareness.

Algernon had a partner - a man with a very low IQ. He was a subject just as Algernon was. The story recount the amazing success of the experiment with both the man and Algernon. With one tragic twist; Algernon dies, and the man? He doesn't die... far worse that that fate. Haunting.

In my early 20's I first moved onto the second floor of a renovated horse-barn, at the edge of the property of the community college I attended. I was in my 3rd semester in college, having just moved out, away from home. And a lot of things happened.

I want to leave you here with this thought...

The "experimental drug" might just as well have been marijuana... since near then is when I used it a second time and my life changed.

There are continuous news articles trying to cast marijuana as the demon weed, schizophrenia, in particular, and yet nothing about how good it is as a natural medicine, a natural high, far safer than legal alternatives, alcohol and tobacco.

There was a time I couldn't go to a college dance, a bluegrass festival, a rock-concert without feeling paranoid. Until the effects of cannabis hit, around that time. The effects were gradual, and at times difficult, as cannabis had a way of bringing out one's paranoia, and the fact that it was illegal tripled that sense of fear. To my advantage was it was near the mid 70's, and pot was mainstream. 90% of the people I knew between age 21 and 27 smoked pot at least once. Rather significant considering I got a job as a custodian at the community college, at the fine arts center... a victory! The culmination of a dream, since Ray Bradbury's "Frost and Fire".

I was not only among the "scientists" at the college, but all the artists too. Almost overnight my life changed. I began to find myself, and others most importantly. I developed a hunger for knowledge, and my job provided me the benefit of free tuition - unlimited.

Because of the influence of cannabis, my life literally opened up and soon I was enjoying learning, loving Nature, hiking, girlfriends, friends, and writing... within four years I wrote my required million words, my future became clear, I felt great...

Flower's For Algernon!!!

NEXT: The Magical, Mystery, Truth...

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