Saturday, April 7, 2018

Postcards From My Childhood Part 13: The Invisible Man

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"The child is the father of the man", they say. Surprisingly, I understood this even as a child. And so I willfully sent forward to my elder self some thoughts and images which I knew would be helpful, and which I suspected I'd otherwise forget.

I was in the early childhood stage of feeling anxious about people watching me going to the bathroom. Meanwhile, I was reading a comic book about The Invisible Man. So I worried, of course, about the possibility that in spite of my diligent effort to shut and lock the bathroom door, the Invisible Man might be present, watching me pee.

But then I realized, with relief, that The Invisible Man watches everyone pee. So it's no problem. No shame!

As with the rest of these postcards, a simple childhood insight was deliberately sent forward, to my great benefit. On a pragmatic level, I don't get uptight during my female doctor's prostate check. On a spiritual level, I've become less ashamed of past misdeeds. If anyone - real or imagined - were tallying them, I take comfort in knowing that my mound of wickedness and transgression pales in comparison to humanity's cumulative towering mountain. To anyone who might take stock, I'm an unexceptional parasite.

This helps, because I've had a problem with shame all my life. It's not from my parents. I'm to blame (ha!), by choosing to hold myself to a moral standard that I frequently miss. A terrible combination! But as my "Invisible Man" epiphany continues to expand - even now, five decades later - I no longer cringe at my remembered failings. And I only very rarely blurt out random stuff after flashing recollections of embarrassment. When wrongly accused, I chuckle and shrug, no weight added to my burden. And when I'm genuinely to blame, I apologize sincerely, and, if I'm lucky, enjoy absolution via refusal of my apology (thankfully, few people graciously accept apologies nowadays; it's a major saving grace of this world).

As a result, while "deserve" isn't a word I use much (it's one of those theatrical terms humans concoct to keep themselves miserable), at age 55 I'm starting to feel like I deserve to be here. That might sound odd, but most people subconsciously feel undeserving of existence (and largely blame it on whichever personal characteristic they spend their time obsessing about).

How do I know most people feel undeserving of existence? Because I sense their ruminations. But they needn't worry. The Invisible Man watches everyone pee.

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