Click Here If You Missed Part V

My head crashes on the table, and it’s a dream, a vivid dream.

I’m back on the canyon floor, after that fall. There’s a little boy standing over me, crying. I pull myself up.

Small, wide eyes look up to me. My reflection stares back from within the dark of those pupils. I am there within him. All I am and all I have ever done. Good. Bad. Beautiful. Not so beautiful.I am there within him. All I am and all I have ever done. Good. Bad. Beautiful. Not so beautiful.

I put out my hand. His trembling hand grasps it tight. I feel his cold little fingers within mine.

“Come,” I say. “Let’s find your mom and dad.”

We walk together. Around the corner, perhaps we will find them. We wander.

Then I awoke.

“Just a dumb dream,” I thought.

A week passed and morning meditations were getting difficult. Junk from brain-dulling TV shows kept popping into my mind. I cut out the TV. All the racket from FaceBook kept coming up. I cut out FB. I was increasingly isolating myself from the whole world. Lonely, but I figured that’s the price.Friends were bugging me. I was increasingly isolating myself from the whole world.

Lonely, but I figured that’s the price.

You can only get so far with your own mind. I’m not a big reader, but I downloaded books. Some were stupid, some were okay, but none of them seemed to talk about what I had seen.

I needed guidance. I missed Hi. I wasn’t yet up to doing the canyon. But then, why should someone like Hi be locked in to canyon scenes?

Then, one frustrating morning, the old man next door discovered me on my balcony. Of course, his balcony was smack next to mine.

“Josh boy!” he called out. “Watcha doin’ up this time of day?”

I just waved politely and tried to get back to my thoughts and staring at the trees.

“Well, it’s a good thing you’re up so early. Early to bed and early to rise … hey, you know the rest!”

And then he starts babbling on about how he never managed to get out of bed as a young man and messed up his life. On and on. Stuff I had heard a thousand times.

Now, along with loneliness, I was angry. I’m trying to meditate and this old geezer is messing it up. I thought maybe I’ll just ignore him and escape into my meditation. I could have done it, except for my memory of the vision Hi had showed me.

“Old man, that’s cool.” I struggled to sound polite. “I need some quiet time right now. That okay?”

I figured that would do it. But no. Now he started going in and out of his balcony door, moving things around, checking on me every two minutes.

Look, I guess he’s lonely too, I thought. And I tried harder to focus on my meditation.

Couldn’t. The anger was still there. I could run from the anger. But those words … “Josh, don’t run from the beast. Face it, head on, from a place of strength and mastery.”

I didn’t know how to face it head on. I was not in a place of strength and mastery. I was weak. I was tired. I was the beast. I was not the master.

The anger runs deep. There’s anger from the abuse of my parents’ anger. There’s anger from school. Anger at dumb teachers who told me I was stupid because I couldn’t sit there and listen to them while all those angry voices were echoing in my head. Anger at dumb teachers who told me I was stupid because I couldn’t sit there and listen to them while all those angry voices were echoing in my head. Anger at friends who were never there when I needed them. Anger at all the anger in life. And this old man is just letting it all out of me.

Forget the meditation. I tried to go for a walk. Couldn’t do it. Still too weak from the fall. Just sitting at home. Alone.

Next morning and the old man is there again. For the first time, I got his name straight. It was Mitchell. Except he used a guttural “h” inside of the “tch”—something like that “H” in Hi’s name.

He’s bugging me again. Sure, try to explain to him that I’m meditating. He hasn’t a clue.

Then he’s telling me how he saw me once putting on those leather boxes, those tefillin. He starts ranting about how his dad never got him a pair.

“Okay,” I said. “Come in and use them.”

Which he did. He was crying. He’s that kind of old man. Then he helped himself to coffee. And then he started going on about his crummy childhood.

Look, I had enough of my own crummy childhood. Now I have to hear his. I figured I just have to get back to my meditation. But there’s no way.

Another morning down the drain.

Next morning and he’s back again. I’m screaming inside, “Will this ever stop?”

And he’s talking about those tefillin. He says he’s not doing it again. He’s too angry at his dad.

Seventy years ago, and he’s still angry at his dad.

Hey, I’m angry, too. Am I going to be angry for the rest of my life, like this old Mitchell dude?

Walked away, slammed the french sliding door shut, and sat in front of a blank tv.

Can’t meditate in front of a blank tv.

Turned it on.

Turned it off.

Eventually it was on. Forgot about anger and watched people shooting each other.

Next morning, he’s there again. Unbelievable. Like nothing happened. He didn’t get the hint. He wants to come over and borrow the tefillin again.

By now, I’ve got an ugly deck of emoto-cards. One marked loneliness, another anger. Now depression. Might as well have stayed in the hospital.

And it’s all bad. It’s all wrong. It’s a beast.

Not a beast inside me. I am the beast.

I am the beast.

Wake up next morning. Might as well stay in bed. Naah. Gotta try again. One more morning. One more dawn..

Bed is good. I turn over to sleep.

“What’s with you, Josh? Give up so easily?”

So I’m up. I’m outside.

And this time, it’s peaceful. The sky is awesome. Clouds on the horizon slow the arrival of a deep red sun. An ocean breeze rustles through the palms. The sky is awesome. Clouds on the horizon slow the arrival of a deep red sun. But the pale, white face is still there. Flocks of Canada geese are flying north already through the dark blue sky.

It’s serene again. No one bothering me. My mind magically falls deep into union with the serenity about me.

And there, in those thoughts, I see old man Mitchell’s face. Not a happy face. Not an angry face. A pale, white face.

Open my eyes. Shake my head. Look out at the sky. The face is still there.

“I gotta go check on him.”

But I don’t want to. I finally have peace. Why wreck a good thing?

“I’m sitting here. I’m not moving.”

My gut doesn’t say anything. It’s just hurting.

“No way to get into his place anyways.”

“Damn it!” I shouted out. Leapt over the balcony edge, yanked open Mitchell’s sliding door, pulling it off its runners. He’s not there.

“What the heck am I doing here?” I asked myself. Looked at the doorknob of his bedroom. “I can’t go in there.”

I went in there.

Old man Mitchell was drooling over the side of his bed. He looked up at me, tried to say something. He coughed up blood.

I just grabbed him. No thoughts. Grabbed him and carried him in my arms down to my old Mustang. No clue how I did that.

Slammed on the gas. Ran every red light.

Lights flashing behind me. “Just what I need,” I thought. Screeched around the corner. Slam that pedal again. One more fast turn and I’m at emergency.

The cops behind me jump out of their car.. “Take this old man in fast!” I yelled.

They got him. My head was spinning too fast. Collapsed back into my car seat.

Couldn’t have been out for long. Next thing I know, some security guard is tapping my shoulder. “You can’t stay parked here,” he says.

Could hardly think. Managed to pull into a spot somewhere.

Sat there. “What’s happened to old man Mitch?” I thought.

“What do I care?”

“I care.”

So I’m there at the emergency desk. Just walked past the line and stuck in my head straight to the triage lady.

“Sir, you’ll have to stand in line like everyone else”

“What happened to the old man I brought in this morning?”

She looked at me, kind of stunned. “The gentleman the police officers brought in at 6AM?” she asked.

“Yeah, around then.”

Her face didn’t look good.

“He was dead on arrival.”

An arm was over my shoulder. It’s the cop.

“Buddy, we’ve got a few questions to ask you.”

“Me? I was saving a life!”

“We need to establish that.”

When eventually I got back home, I just threw myself on the couch. I wanted to cry. But I couldn’t cry. I was too angry to cry.

Those black leather straps and boxes, those tefillin, they’re still lying on the table. They’re waiting for me. The sun is going down. If I don’t wrap them now, the day is gone. So I do.

I start wrapping them with a fury. Like, why do I have to do this? And then, with a passion. And then, I cover my eyes to say the prayer. And I feel that calm again.

My eyes are closed. I see the geese flying home. I open my eyes. There he was, finally.

“Hi! Why are you here now? I needed you before!”

”I was there for you, Josh. Like I promised you.”

“Hi, why are you smiling? I messed up. Messed up bad.”

“I’m here because you did good, Josh. Real good.”

“He died, Hi. The old man died.”

And then the tears started pouring, uncontrollably. Why? Hey, this is not me! I’m not a guy to cry about some old man dying! I’m not a person who cares!

“He died,” said Hi. “You’ve started to live. You won your first battle.”

His hand held mine. My cold fingers within his warm hand.

”Come,” he said. “It’s time to start your journey home.”