Officer Alex searches for meaning in a crazy, confusing world
“I started a joke, which started the whole world crying
But I didn’t see that the joke was on me
I started to cry, which started the whole world laughing
Oh If I’d only seen that the joke was on me…”
—Robin Hugh Gibb
I have always imagined the human mind as something that started out as a color palette, a series of dimples in a circular pattern with different colors and hues filled in by each parent based on hundreds of generations of modifications for good and ill. Some through random genetic intervention, others by environment and need as the next new model comes out better prepared than the last based on “X” and “Y”, only to be altered by the next partner for extra spice (good and bad) over and over—the eternal Highwayman, living again and again (and again).
It works. It keeps us diverse, blending necessary changes over centuries, millennia. Are there downsides? Sure, we expose our vulnerable underbellies by standing erect, our teeth are no longer so sharp and we are not as resistant to bacteria and viri as our quadruped associates, and we are nigh useless in water compared to our fellow mammalian Pinnipeds such as seals, but through different means we still manage to remain the overall apex predator on the planet. It could be argued that this is quite an accomplishment.
Global dominance as a species aside though…that color palette. As a whole it’s great, but on an individual, let me tell you…it’s a real crapshoot.
What makes me a smartass? What makes one sibling a math genius, and another a comedian? Addiction, seeming wisdom? Strength, chronic illness? That mixed bag that makes us strong as a whole also comes with statistical offsets that make life less than a little cheery, and boy do the reminders of such come at a price.
Some palettes are filled with bright blues, others fiery oranges and reds, yet others with greens and yellows…but some have a darkness to them that is either horrifyingly obvious, or deceptively hidden. And of course…it’s the latter which has my full attention this day.
That darkness is far from preferred, but statistically possible and occasionally a good balance to some of the other colors on that wheel. “Cops” and “soldiers” are a fine example—and yes, there is a difference but one I don’t see the relevance of today.
A nurse that can’t save an infant from SIDS in a NICU and has to keep working that day, the next, the medical examiner that has to dissect it? There is a darkness we can use to our advantage, don’t act like it’s not necessary. We need darkness to preserve the light, which is why it is allowed to survive generation to generation. I see no argument. But that darkness occasionally has no idea when it’s consuming an enemy, and when it’s consuming itself.
Sound terrifying? Hah…you’re damn right it is.
Think about it from their perspective: Have you ever literally questioned your sanity? I’m not talking about going through a “rough patch,” I mean really, really had to face the possibility that with cold wet skin and shaking hands in the dark that you might not just be broken, but unfixable?
That if you don’t hide it you may be cast out and discarded like a broken toy?
And that when you actually ask for help, you’re told that despite all the sacrifices, all the work, all the effort, that “you should just quit”? That it has all been for nothing but a pink slip and a scarlet letter?
Not me…but I’ve known those guys.
That color palette is tough to find, but it’s there, and if you care for someone you should look for it. Some darkness seems inescapable, but it doesn’t have to be.
Talk to people you care about. Be firm. Be patient. That palette is made of plastic and can get stretched out of shape…but given time, it can return to its original shape, or a functional facsimile thereof if a gentler heat is properly applied.
It’s been a long week. A certain emptiness has grown larger...but so has a sense of love and togetherness as a result. Don’t let these moments go.
Watch. Listen. Talk. Take it from me.
I’ve known some of those guys.
When officer Alexander D. Teach is not patrolling our fair city on the heels of the criminal element, he spends his spare time volunteering for the Boehm Birth Defects Center.