Tim thinks he's sunk to the bottom of bottoms. He doesn't know he hasn't finished sinking yet.
Amazing how the sun could look different in another time and another space and how it looked closer to you and how you have to remember to wear sunshades to protect your eyeballs against the forgotten power of that bright star.
Or how the faint caress of an autumn breeze could feel like a steam engine or a tornado smashing through your ears and taking the thoughts straight out your head.
Or how everything on the outside looked bigger and brighter, farther and nearer, kinda like sitting too close to the screen at the new theater while watching a stalker movie.
Memories are a haunting trail better left untread and if you wander too long on that meandering path, you’ll end up cursing yourself for a stupid fool. So, you leave town and enter another one just like it. In the back of your mind, you know it is a trap.
The town you’ve settled in is a poised lion, crouching and waiting for you, savoring the moment when he can tear your head off and eat you for breakfast. You swear this time it’ll be different, so you call yourself something else, like Tim instead of Tim Tim.
You end up working in the same kinds of places and making friends with the same types of low-life that you left behind. Before long what you were hoping would be a new life is not new at all, and the mistakes you’ve made come back like an oozing herpes sore.
You start to wonder if the story your mother used to tell about dropping you on your head in the supermarket parking lot is really true and not just told to make people laugh. Forty years later, you realize the joke isn’t funny, dreams don’t come true and the school’s mantra “you can be anything you want” is the worst kind of lie.
You realize being who you ought and being who you are, are two different cards and the hand you’re always dealt is full of one-eyed Jacks and suicide Kings. Makes you want to kill somebody. Then you realize you already have, but you can’t remember his name, even though the shady lawyer said it a million times.
When you look in the mirror, all you see is his face staring back at you, purple with strangled blood, eyes angry and bulging, teeth gnashing and biting. You avoid mirrors until you forget your own face and begin to fancy you look like Tom Cruise, chiseled and smooth.
Every time your hands grip a bottle of Night Train you can feel what’s-his-name’s neck and curse the fact that you have hands. So, you lay off the booze and decide to use your hands for nothing but good and reach out in what you consider to be loving caresses to your pretty co-worker.
You remember how her face turned ugly when she sneered at you, “You ain’t no Tom Cruise.” You force yourself on her just to show her and the next thing you know, you’re convicted—again. So, you serve your time and you’re out on the street—again. Except, this time you can’t get a job and you’ve used up all the names you used to know.
Not finding a place for your burden and not wanting to own it yourself; you turn your back on an unjust system, which in your mind is an extension of God—cold and distant, unwanted and unhelpful. You shake your fist at your Maker and the penetrating sun and you enter the darkness of night swearing never to return.
In the dark, the memories find you; the anger and bitterness gnaw out your insides until there is nothing left but a hollow and empty shell. Exhausted, you want to kill yourself to end the torment, but you are terrified it won’t end well, until, unbidden, the desire for life envelopes you. It starts out as a rivulet, trickling down the corners of your soul, and later you are awash in it. Alone, your hand breaks through its tide searching for a rescue.
Right when you are about to give up, you are lifted and taken to a sparkling shore. Gasping, you bask in the brightness of the sun, no longer needing shades to shield you from its power. The wind blows your broken thoughts to a land unreachable and you are given new thoughts and new answers.
You are no longer watching life from a distance—-you are in it!
You don’t worry anymore about acquiring a new name, you rest in the assurance that you will have one in that new place and in that new life you will one day live.
You think about the preacher man who came to your cell every Tuesday night who told you about amazing things, too fantastic to believe. But, you’re glad you listened because when the flood came, you knew just what to do for your rescue.
The hands you used to slay your opponent and you shook in rebellion to your Maker have become clean and good. The life that was once broken and torn has been remade because you finally learned to lay it down at someone else’s feet—the One who lifts the burden you thought you could never move.