What a whiner I am. Life all around and inside me and I'm mooning over lost love and hopeless, looking at the world and seeing the concrete jungle, searching for beauty and fine thoughts and moaning about my interior madhouse, which I built from my own raw materials with broken tools. Jesus, Mike; get a life.

Perhaps you have some idea now of how disgusting it is to be me sometimes. I'm a pathetic weakling next to these young people, so positive about life and so many trying to make it better for others. And what do I do? I analyze and complain, write about my personal problems, and rarely say anything worth spending breath saying or writing.

Suddenly there's a beautiful baby and an ecstatic mother in front of me and the kid is beaming telepathy at me saying LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL I AM! HA, HA! You looked like this once, and soon you will look this way:

But that's okay, Mike. The same spark of life that makes me laugh is still firing your motors, so forget your troubles and come on get happy, like ME!

Okay kid, I'll try. But you haven't even found a job yet. Okay, okay, I'll try. I guess I owe it to you.

A long time ago in a big city when I was 21 I made a mistake that made me ashamed, a mistake so stupid and profound that it altered my perception of myself and sent me into psychic-hiding, and I was already in flight--still in flight--from the teenage jail and threat of worse I'd experienced in Lake Charles at the hands of my dear departed but often-drunken mother. I won't say what it was because it still makes me ashamed. It was nothing that harmed anybody except me and there was no violence or theft or anything like that. It was something else, something I only ever told one friend, my closest, and he is dead. Nobody knows but me and God.

I wonder how many people have something like that, something so shameful with such a profound implication that it crippled them, or crippled them worse. It lowered my self-esteem but for years I forgot it entirely, and when I did remember it, it didn't seem so bad. But it was bad-enough for that self-esteem. People say that self-esteem is the key to a happy life; but I don't know. Luck or blessing or the lack of them might have something to do with it too. How can we know? It made me doubt myself, and I faltered on my way up the rocky trail harder thereafter.

Don't live in the past, everybody says. I agree with that. But what do you do about memory, hah? CONTROL it? I might as well try to control the cycles of the moon. Memories sweep permeate my mind and strew the path before and after me with images and sensations, crushed hopes and bitter regrets, and I wonder how many lucky people don't have to deal with them; or have only happy, pleasant memories. Do all old people go through this? I don't know many old people, so I cannot tell you.

We are supposed to slow down and take it easy, let the young ones do it. Yeah okay, you have to carry the heavy end like I used to, but I can still handle this end and quit worrying I am going to fall off a ladder. I ain't falling off no ladder. And if I fall I hope it is a good one what quicker way for an old housepainter to get to that great Sherwin-Williams in the Sky with a contractor's discount? Maybe there I can finally learn faux-painting. But I hope they put me to work in the Library, or in the Heavenly Sex Dome where one makes love with angels eternally.

I'm going to try again folks to get all this bad stuff out of my mind and concentrate my attention on the beautiful, the lovely, the gentle, the peaceful, the fine things and ideas and hearty good well-intentioned efforts people of all classes and races are involved in on this heavier-than-uranium planet. I'm still trying to get in and get out. Sorry if I brought you down.


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