The Voice in My Head is calm and assured:
You will know when it is time to act. It will come as a feeling, but a feeling of certainty. No longer will you be tempted to procrastinate, to wait for further evidence, to seek the advice of others. You will know that it is time.
Most people will not approve of your decision. Ignore them. They have their own paths to follow, their own inspiration to guide them. They can’t help you with your decision and you can’t help them with theirs.
I want to argue with the voice. Knowing when to act and knowing what to do are two different problems. Hopefully, the inspiration for both will arrive at roughly the same time. If not, then patience and courage will be called for, in equal amounts.
The Voice agrees. If you don’t try, how are you gonna learn anything? We learn as much from our failures as from our successes. It’s just more pleasant to learn from success. And less expensive. And other people find it more inspiring. Serving as a warning to others is a form of service, but not a sexy one.
My life is living proof the voice knows what he is talking about. I was once a movie star, albeit a minor one. I played the stupid guy who served as a sidekick to the leading male. He looked better and smarter with me by his side. I was good at this, and appeared in many low-budget movies made between 1970 and 1980. Still, my IMDb page is often visited, and although I have not had a request for my services in many years, people still stumble across references to me in anything from movie magazines to scholarly dissertations. I am well known among media studies professors.
My SAG retirement will not make me a rich man, but I will be able to retire in comfort in a third-world country with a low standard of living. There are worse fates!
The only real problem I have now is my heroin addiction. I’ve been an addict for more than thirty years now, and as long as I have a reliable, clean supply, I can do just fine. Take away that, and I’m fold like a cheap suit in a matter of hours. All my plans have to do with making sure that doesn’t happen.
I carry with me several secrets in addition to my opiate addiction. These I rarely share with anyone, because I am looking for neither sympathy nor a solution. I am the only person you are likely to meet who is highly radioactive. This came from an experiment I undertook back when I first suspected I had an auto-immune disorder which I first thought was multiple sclerosis, but I now know to be Parkinson’s Disease. Any any rate, I was going through a phase in which I thought I had been born with innate psychic gifts in the healing arts, and decided that if I ingested a few grams of radioactive cesium isotopes, it would cure me. It didn’t. I was not only wrong, but sorely deluded. Fortunately, I had never offered medical advice to others, so I have no guilt attached to this experience. Shame, yes, but not guilt.
The other shameful secret I rarely mention is my propensity to secretly dig holes in other people’s back yards. I do this at night. What am I searching for? Your guess is as good as mine. I’ve been doing this for years, and although I have not yet unearthed any buried treasure, I have come across several cat and dog skeletons. These I respectfully left in entombed. I am not a ghoul, just a person who wrestles with unusual compulsions often succumbing to overpowering needs to act out in ways the world is not likely to understand. That’s OK by me. I don’t need your understanding, just the freedom to act out as I see fit.
Again, I neither seek understanding or permission to be the person I am today. Even though I am an agnostic, I appreciate those who conclude that God made them just the way they are and they needn’t apologize for it.
In my best moments I am one of them. That which makes me unusual also makes me useful in ways I can’t predict but I have faith exist. I am ready, willing and able to be of use.
Lately I’ve noticed that if I am around plants for long, they change. Some wither and die, while others bloom and surge in growth. I have been told that my radioactivity is not harmful to others, though my expert advice for this matter comes from beyond the veil. Automatic writing, the Ouija board, and various ways of talking with spirits have given me access to a whole new realm of expertise.
I have been assured that a mate for me is on her way, and that once she arrives my current liabilities will change to assets. I try not to waste time wondering about her physical attributes. If she is a soul-mate sent to complete me, then whether she is a pinup girl or downright homely doesn’t matter in the least.
Sometimes before going to bed, when I’m brushing my teeth, I look in the mirror and try to imagine her standing next to me. If the lights are low, my teeth glow in the dark, and I can see her standing in the shadows just behind me. Sometimes a tall blonde, sometimes a short brunette. My soul mate.
The spirit who tells me most of this calls himself “Doctor Pretorious.” I’ve been talking with him for so long now that he feels like family. Although I’ve never seen him, I’ve heard his voice in my head ever since I started my experiments with automatic writing. When I try to ask about her, he refuses to add detail, simply saying “Patience my son. She is on her way.”
A few evening ago I was back to my habit of sneaking onto the property of my neighbors, shovel in hand, and digging for an hour or two. The main house is hidden away behind trees and I am careful not to make much noise. They have no dog. I avoid properties with dogs. After an hour or so, I saw something glowing beneath the soil at the bottom of my pit. At first I thought it was the moonlight reflecting on something shiny, but no, the more I dug the more I became sure it was actually something glowing from below. The glow was deep yellow, custard yellow, and with a few more scoops of earth removed I could see it was a large rock, almost the size of a bowling ball. I lifted it up and out of the hole. It was cold to the touch.
I have a feeling about things that I often can’t explain, but that I put stock in. I follow these gut feelings and I am usually not wrong to do so. My finding this rock was no accident. It was meant to be, maybe put there since the dawn of time awaiting this moment.
Bundling the rock in my jacket, I hurried back home, carrying the shovel with one arm and the rock in another. It was all I could do not to shout “thank you!” at the top of my lungs, but instead I whispered it under my breath, over and over.
When I got home, there was a woman sitting on the steps of my front porch. In the glow that came from the rock, I could see that I didn’t already know her. She was very short, under five-feet tall. Black hair and black eyes.
“I’m Helga,” she said. “Dr. Pretorious sent me.”
“Helga?” I responded, stunned.
“If you don’t like the name you can call me Jane.”
“Jane,” I repeated. “Come in, Jane. I’ve been expecting you.”
Jane is my antithesis. Where I emit gamma radiation, she absorbs it. She is my graphite rod.
We don’t talk much, because we don’t need to. Our silence together is enough. She spends long hours reading and playing solitaire. She listens to early jazz recordings. Anything recorded before 1930 delights her, anything after that date she finds annoying. To me it all sounds the same, like music from a Krazy Kat cartoon, or the soundtrack of a Woody Allen movie.
Jane was once a nun in a cloistered order that observed strict silence. She hardly spoke for over ten years. Then, one night, Jesus appeared before her and told her that it was time for her to leave and go out into the world. The next day she left and took a bus to the city, where she was able to find work as a children’s librarian.
Fortunately, she had received a degree in library science before joining the convent. Through diligent service and by keeping a low profile, she was eventually promoted to head librarian, when the current head was fired for having sex with teenage boys. She said that contrary to popular belief, public libraries were dens of gossip, politics and outright iniquity. Her training at the convent had allowed her to bypass many of the snares that trapped others. But then she fell into a trap of her own making. She fell in love with another woman, also an ex-nun, and their conservative community was unable to handle such a scandal. Happily, they offered her a generous settlement to resign and she moved to Giant Rock, Arizona, where UFO sightings are a frequent occurrence and where Wilhelm Reich once built an Orgone accumulator.