I had this dream last night that got me thinking. In the dream I was driving along with my mom in the car and these two men, seemingly in need of assistance, waved us down. Ended up it was a ruse and they were actually trying to abduct my mom. The way it happened was fascinating because in actuality it was only happening in my head so I came up with the idea and it was such a fucked up idea that I wonder how ideas like this even get started. One of the guys had a prosthetic arm and he pulled it off and put it over my mom’s face and then squeezed the hand part and some sleep gas puffed in her face and she went instantly unconscious.
Where does any sane person come up with that?
Anyway, I’d like to eventually get to the point I’ll be making later on so I’ll skip ahead to the part where I realize that my mom is in danger of being taken away in this windowless van so I launch into action. I failed to mention that the other gentleman was enormous and all of his limbs appeared not only functional but designed for mayhem. It was this guy who attempted to persuade me to just let them take her by posturing and indicating he had a pistol in his belt.
No matter. I was suddenly filled with this primal instinct to defend my mother and I walked right up to him and made short work of savagely beating him until he was no longer able to function as either the muscle or the getaway driver.
It was exhilarating.
When I went around to the other side of the van no amount of gas-puffing appendages were going to stop me from saving my mom. I went about my work in a precise and ruthless way. An outside observer would be obliged to note that I seemed to take a great deal of enjoyment from roughing up this potential mother-harmer.
Jean-Paul Sartre once observed that “Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself.” Apparently he was always spouting such stuff to anyone who would listen. I don’t think he thought it through. In my case I would be much more than I am if I had a little more help from my body. I say this because in my dream I was brave and agile and the entire episode seemed completely plausible. At no point did I fly or breathe fire or any other action that was physically impossible. I merely acted the way I hope I’d act if put in this situation in real life.
What would ol’ Jean-Paul make of the incident at Denny’s last week when I accidently bumped another man as I was leaving and he whirled and called me a faggot and shoved me into stack of sticky plates? I was devoid of bravery and instead felt my stomach tighten into a knot as I sheepishly apologized and secretly hoped for nothing more than to slink out of the establishment without further incident.
Is that truly what I have made of myself?
Hell no! My body failed me. Where was the rush of adrenaline when I needed it? Where was the slowing down of my heart rate and the icy appraisal of my foe’s weak spots? Instead all I felt was a flight instinct that flooded over me with such enthusiasm that looking back I’m surprised I didn’t wet myself. How can I be held accountable for such shameful cowardice when it was clearly my body’s fault? Mr. Sartre clearly had no idea what he was talking about.
Here’s another good example. A few years back I broke my leg and spent a few weeks in a large and uncomfortable cast from hip to toe. During those long weeks it was very difficult to do even the simplest things. One of the more difficult tasks was going to the bathroom. Sitting on the toilet and successfully taking a crap was a Herculean effort. Here’s the interesting part. Anyone who knows me knows that I take at least three healthy dumps a day. I’m regular to the point where people know to get out of my way around 9:10 a.m. because the express is coming through. During those weeks in the cast I only had to drop the kids off at the pool once every other day. I don’t know why but my body seemed to figure out how to compact the shit and save me the effort of going regularly. I actually heard the shit hit the bottom of the toilet like an iron ingot, it was so dense. Water splashed up between my legs. The best part was that it was a clean transaction; I didn’t even have to wipe. My body had figured out a better way to crap while I was incapacitated.
As soon as the cast came off I immediately went back to my three-a-day routine.
Obviously my body knows how to make going to the bathroom more efficient, why doesn’t it choose to do that all the time?
I’m sure Jean-Paul would have plenty to say about it, his list of quotes on every damn topic seems inexhaustible, but what would a philosopher know about the human body?
Dick. That’s what Jean-Paul knows. I was going to list a few of his other quotations but I don’t think I’ll give him the satisfaction. If you knew what I dreamed you’d also know that I’m not a coward. You know what I am capable of if only my body would play ball. I squeezed off enough Exhibit A’s to know that if I wanted to my body can do amazing things.
Including stand up for myself in a Denny’s. For him to imply otherwise just shows what a faggot he is. If he were here I’d punch him right in the mouth.
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