The Shining, The Fear

I just finished reading (well, listening to) The Shining It really is brilliant, if horrifying. Stephen King does a fantastic job of getting inside Jack Torrance’s brain as he tries to figure out what’s right, knowing that no choice he makes will be the right one. How often we find ourselves paralyzed by making a choice knowing that if we go one way it will end badly, but if we go the other it will be worse? This book gets into one of our more basic fears – how do we know that what we’re doing is the right thing? How do we know if what we’re choosing is the right path? Sometimes we don’t know and that’s scary as hell.

With your back against the wall, between a rock and a hard place, when you’re losing your mind, which way do you go?

That uncertainty, that insecurity you deal with every day. As good as I try to be, as kind as I try to be, maybe deep down I really am just an asshole. Maybe in actuality I’m really not worth anything. That little itch in the back of your mind; like in the Matrix – “What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.” Except in this case it’s the feeling that there’s something wrong with you. A coalescing of every negative thing that’s been said to you all your life – by your father, by that horrible teacher, by someone you love. That feeling that you are not OK. That what you believe isn’t true. That something about you is fundamentally broken.

And it really plays on your insecurities as a parent. You never know what you’re doing is right. And maybe never will. This is what’s really scary about this book – it mirrors the real fears we carry with us every day.

And part of that fear – that innate insecurity about who we are – freaks us out. It scares us that that’s the way we were born and we can’t do anything about it.

How do we live with the cards we’re dealt when those cards suck? Sometimes it seems like such bullshit that you have to live with what we were born with. I have to deal with things that we didn’t have a choice in. But all we can do is live with what we’ve been given. For better or for worse.

I can almost hear the old cook Dick Halloran saying, “You ever wonder why God made you that way? You may never know. That’s just how he made you. For better or for worse.”

Hold on, I suddenly have the urge put on some Lady Gaga. You were born this way, baby.

We can scream and rant and rave about how we were born. About what we are born into. At some point, we just have to make peace with it, or, like Jack, we will drive ourselves insane. And it’s hard to deal with all that shit by ourselves, much less when other people are giving us shit for who we are. That’s the truly sad thing. We’re looking for a place where people can love us for who we are. The church should be that place. In my experience, it’s not. It persecutes you for who you are. Like the Overlook Hotel, it gets in your mind and twists things.

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