Zombie Lights and Three Hundred Dollars a Week

Joe Banks

I am no stranger to the epic meltdown.  When positivity has seemingly run its course, when the bat-shit craziness of this world has seemingly penetrated every fiber of life like an oil stain from a greasy spoon, when the well has run dry…I fall prey to the epic meltdown.

This world is crazy, you know?

Its lunacy lurks around corners like a cat burglar in an old dime thriller complete with black stocking cap, harlequin mask and manic sneer.  I’m not sure why it is this way, but it is.  At least, that’s the way it feels sometimes.  And I try…I really do.  I try to stay unemotional about things.  I try really hard to look at things from a logical perspective.  To see all the angles.  But I’m more Kirk than Spock.  I’m more likely to cheat on the Kobayashi Maru than I am to concede that there is such a thing as a no-win situation.  It usually means that when dealt with a hand of cards from the deck of flight or fight, I’m doubling down on fight.  But sometimes it just means epic meltdown.

And the problem is I’m not really good at it.

I’d like to be.  I really would.  I’m talented in many ways, but my epic meltdowns are more epic failures.  A psychologist could probably make a career on my desire to have a more desirable and functional epic meltdown.  I’m sure more than one may wish to speak to me later.  Later.

Right now I’m more concerned with a viable meltdown.  One filled with wry wit and snappy retort.  Alas, my epic meltdowns are less witty than I’m capable.  And generally I’m alone or with one or two others.  I feel maybe I don’t have a grand enough audience for my meltdowns, that if a crowd were present I’d be more likely to break out that wry wit.  After all, an epic meltdown is a performance if nothing else, and what’s better than instant gratification on a clever observation, with a slight dose of cynical sarcasm that makes a crowd laugh?

Unfortunately, I don’t see any theatrics in front of captivated audiences anytime soon.  Maybe that’s fortunate.  I don’t know.  I think maybe we should be allowed that opportunity to verbally confess our frustrations and general disdain for the state of things, in a venue that best puts us on the spot to both highlight our most poignant observations and allow us the freedom to make a complete ass of ourselves.

I guess I struggle with the futility of the moment.  I reach critical mass at moments when I’ve lost all hope that the moment can be saved.  That progress and compromise have been railroaded and dismissed without any indication of revival.  My disillusionment with the challenges of daily life and obstacles that get put before us can sometimes overwhelm me to the point of meltdown.  And with the slightest provocation it becomes epic.

Like Joe Versus the Volcano.

Joe lives in a world of zombie lights that suck the life out of him, for $300 a week.  It’s a job, sure, but it’s not a life.  At least, not a life worth living.  And it’s not until he is diagnosed with a brain cloud that he begins to see the forest for the trees.  It is at this moment that he sees a life worth living.  It is also when the futility of his life at present reaches a critical mass, and when his meltdown becomes epic.  And funny…

As I write this journal today, I do it more for me than anything else.  As a reminder that it’s easy to lose hope in the moment of despair and frustration.  It’s too easy.  Like giving up and quitting.  And when I’ve given up and lost hope I’m vulnerable to moments that are hopeless.  Like a meltdown of epic proportions.  Because the truth is, there is always hope.

Joe saw hope from futility, even if a rare disease would mean that it would only last a brief time.  Hope still existed that things would be better.  But the hope for a resolution to the things we want, in the way that we want them might not be the hope that we get.  We may desire an outcome, but it may not be the right outcome for us.  We just don’t know it yet.

Sometimes hope takes us down a different road.  Even then, hope remains.

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