Making sense of one’s life is a worthy pursuit, impossible, but worthy. We perceive what occurs in our lives, no matter how ridiculous, as the universe’s equivalent to Reader’s Digest. Upon examination semi-coherent patterns emerge.
We tell ourselves stories to justify what we did or didn’t do, and generally make a mess of our attempts at understanding.
Themes develop and often life itself becomes a justification, the events endlessly repeated and reenacted in hopes perhaps that we can assuage our anxiety, and gain a bit of clarity.
While it rarely works, it does keep us busy.
One central theme in my life had clearly developed by age 5. It continued on through puberty, through my teenage years and twenties and into each preceding decade that I have managed to get through.
Violent movement, and stomach churning sensations play a big part, as do incoherent thought processes, and mental gymnastics.
Once again wheels were turning in one form or another. While it is possible that in the early years I was attempting to solve mass transportation problems in my own way, very little time was spent thinking about moving the populace from point A to point B.
It is more likely that I was simply investigating a crude form of consciousness expansion…..a pursuit that would one day leave its mark not only on my psyche but on those around me.
Children have been known to spin around in circles until they get dizzy.
By age three I had developed this into a fine art.
I spent entire days getting dizzy.
It is well known that if you get dizzy enough you fall down.
The key is not to cheat. Too often practitioners flop over on their own accord. It is important to continue turning until a type of brain freeze occurs and you literally fall down.
The correct time to fall is only when your legs can no longer support you. This is DIZZY.
Over and over again I practiced these simple moves until they were perfected.
My parents worried.
They had good reason.
Dizzy is frowned upon in polite society.
Fortunately however, such practices have been codified and civilized into something called “amusement rides”.
Once I discovered them at age 5, my preoccupation with dizziness no longer seemed peculiar.
It was socially acceptable to go to parks and ride rides for the sheer exhilaration of it. People even paid to do it.
Amusement rides then became the new object of my obsession. Starting innocently at first, no doubt on a Merry-Go-Round or something similar, the drug like addictive qualities soon took over.
Rather than provide an occasional departure from normalcy, riding these machines soon became my new norm.
It was walking casually about on the planet earth that felt strange. I spent many a sleepless night in anticipation of the next adrenaline rush to come.
Several years later my brother, sister and I rode the Tilt-A-Whirl at the zoo so many times that they installed a plaque with our names on our seat.
The wonderful thing about a Tilt-A-Whirl is that natural forces are at play and while you can always be assured that you will continuously travel the larger revolution, in order for the truly sickening, gut wrenchingly thrilling gyrations to occur, you had to have the seat at just the right point on its axis.
Weight and tilt would all combine in a happy synthesis, which uncoiled the ride into a vicious double circle.
Even knowing its every move, the machine can still shock me with its vehemence.
It was possible to chase that thrill through an entire ride without once hitting the correct balance of forces. At other times a constant series of spins were created from beginning to end. No matter what, the loud rumble of it's wheels on the track created a symphony to my ears.
All children become amateur mechanical engineers after a few dozen times on the
Tilt-A-Whirl and learn to lean in the correct angle at the correct time to induce the spins.
“Lean!” someone would cry and 3 or 4 of us would hurriedly lean as if to catch a wave.
We were working on our master’s degree.
Someone was the goat.
They were the first one on the inside of the turn and the others would slide to that side crushing that child who was simultaneously pounded by vertigo.
My perception was that I was destined to be the goat. True or not I was convinced this was so. The universe conspired against me, using its toolkit of natural forces and finding infinite ways to place me in the worst possible position on the device. As I writhed in agony with 3 or 4 children pressing hard against me I was forced to simultaneously laugh from the spin, the combination increasing my pain exponentially, shortening my breath, and sending my brain cells into chronoscopic shock.
Written on the faces of my companions was raw glee…..glee at the infliction of pain. Crushing others on the Tilt-A-Whirl was at that moment their sole purpose in life. Other pursuits undoubtedly occurred between these opportunities to cause their compatriots discomfort, but still the infliction of pain was paramount.
One note on etiquette: while it was perfectly acceptable to threaten to throw up at such times, it was considered bad form to actually do it.
Out on the upper limits of pain and nausea exists a cheap form of enlightenment first practiced by Buddhists in the 12th century. As I approached the threshold of the intolerable a strange euphoria began to wash over me. I was instantly transported out of the clutches of the child infested Tilt-a-Whirl and into the loving arms of a deity who looked and acted a lot like Annette Funicello.
I was sold. From then on expanding my consciousness became my primary pursuit. It seemed to encompass all the facets of my being: my hatred of homework, my need to draw naked women, and my fascination with monster movies.
It was a short walk from there to riding motorcycles, destroying brain cells, and pursuing the arts.
The direct link from Dizzy to Art is incontrovertible.
Never was this more obvious than in my late teenage years when on a motorcycle trip with a friend I visited Falcon Lake State Park. It occurred shortly after the consumption of drugs that were accidentally smuggled into Mexico.
To be continued.