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A Hippie on the Beach (aka Regaining Balance)
By Scab Scum
Sunday, September 08, 2002
There's an island known as ‘Brightside' just off the shore of my hometown, Cressida. Although the patch of land is only a couple dozen acres or so in size, its still considered an island.
There's a wooden bridge that connects Cressida to Brightside, its nearly a mile long. Fortunately, its large enough for your average size car to drive along. However, if two cars, going in opposite directions, were to meet in the middle, one driver would have to be kind, as well as skilled, enough to drive his var backwards to his point of origin. One un-careful bump of a car against one of the bridge's wooden pillars would certainly be enough to send the vehicle into the river, as the sides of the bridge aren't very sturdy.
Whenever under tremendous amounts of stress from either working or loving or one of life's other burdens, I often find myself driving out to Brightside for the afternoon. I guess you could refer to it as my island retreat, seeing as how my time spent there was always consumed by meer relaxation. I'd venture through the woods, sit beneath a tree, lay atop the island's lone mountain and stare into the sun, but I'd never step foot on the beach.
I've never been much of a beach person as it was, loathing the over-abundance of flesh that one usually attracts, but this wasn't my reason for avoiding Brightside's one sandy shore. For on this minuscule coast, no matter what time of day, no matter what day of the week or season of the year, there sat this hippie. I've never gotten too close to him, but from his position I always assumed he was meditating. An old fashion turntable always sat spinning by his side.
I'd come to the conclusion that this long-haired, unbathed individual had been coming to Brightside for the same reason as me, to escape, and he'd been there long before I had. I felt that the only thing to do was to leave him be on his beach, and I'd have the rest of the island to enjoy.
With time, my life only got worse. My wife didn't believe that I'd spent all my missing hours on the island of Brightside, making peace with myself. She was sure that I was having affairs with strippers, prostitutes, secretaries, schoolgirls and whatever else popped up half naked on the daily talkshow circuit.
My job as an officer of the law was also disturbed by the island. Sometimes, I'd be so consumed by day dreams of my isolated utopia, that I'd miss calls over the radio. There'd be repeated transmissions and hollering, but I never heard a thing. Finally, another car would be sent to investigate my disappearance, only to find me staring into the sun with a smile on my face.
It wasn't long before I was let go. I believe someone planted a rock of crack cocaine in my locker. Instead of being brought up on charges, I was simply removed from the force.
Needless to say, my foul-tempered wife was furious. Not only did she believe I was an adulterer, she was now convinced I was a crackhead as well. She packed her bags, destined to return to her mother, but I couldn't let that happen. Despite our nightly verbal engagements, I still loved her, and if I lost her, my mind would go along for the ride. Instead, I beat her to death with an aluminum baseball bat while reciting our marital vows. That way, if she could hear me from whatever may lie in the afterlife, she'd understand why I did it.
In a panic, I drove out to the island. Luckily, there were no other cars on the bridge, at the speed I was going there surely would have been an accident. I ran through those soothing woodlands in a daze, the trees all spinning madly around me, screaming. I tried to sit beneath one, but none would sit still long enough for me to lean against them. The mountains wouldn't sit still either. No matter how far I'd ran towards it, the towering rock was always a good distance away. There seemed to be no comfort on Brightside that night, my whole world was falling apart around me. I had one last chance to bring myself back.
The hippie. Perhaps if I sat and spoke with him I'd be able to calm myself, to set everything still again. The ability to get all that burdened my being out of my shell might just be the release my current situation called for. And who else would be a better set of ears than some mellow burn out.
I approached the hippie from behind. I'm certain that he heard my clumsy feet sloshing through the sand, but he remained still. His turntable blurted out some early 70's nightmare, a mixture of acid rock, middle eastern music and a group of stoners chanting ‘ohm, ohm.' As I got closer, I noticed a stack of worn out LP's sitting in front of him.
Once I was closer, the hippie extended his arms at the elbow, at his sides, with his eyes closed. Ignorant to his ways, yet realizing I must respect them if I was to gain any help, I stood silently, awaiting the old guru, if you will, to welcome me.
He lowered his arms and opened his eyes, "What troubles you, friend?"
"My world," I blurted out, "everything's spinning, nothing will stop. I felt this coming for some time, I tried to prepare myself ... but I've lost all control."
"Interesting," said the hippie, fingering his chin beard. I noticed that this long haired chap looked much like the fairy tale fellow known as Jesus of Nazareth. I recalled, however, that most hippies tried to achieve this look, "Sit, my friend."
As I sat, my guru thumbed through his vinyl collection with his eyes closed. His boney hand stopped on one album as an ‘ahh!' escaped from his lips. Gently, the hippie stripped the record of its sleeve, placed it on the turntable and sent it spinning. Instantaneously, the album spoke to me,
There's a shadow watching you
Watching everything you do
Yeah, its true
The hippie smiled, "You have a shadow, friend. Your shadow is dragging you down."
The record continued into some spaced out musical overture. A boney finger traced its rotation in the air.
"See that?" he asked, "That's the inner circle, we all have one. Your shadow has unbalanced yours, causing it to sit still while your outer circle revolves. It took a while to halt your inner circle, thus the steady decline in your life. Now that its stopped, you're all out of tune, man. You're a mess."
It all seemed to make sense to me, but then again anything that took the blame off of my shoulders would have sounded reasonable. Regardless, I believed it.
"How do I ..." I began.
"Balance your inner circle back on its axis. Set it spinning again on the tree of life," a boney finger reached out and poked my forehead, "in here."
Again, I asked how to achieve it, this time uninterrupted.
"When you come out here, to my island, for inner peace, what holds your eye more than anything?" he asked.
"The sun," I replied.
"And why the sun, my friend?"
"Its so mighty, yet remains pure."
"Pure," said the hippie, smiling once more, "You need to become pure. Your mind, body and soul yearns to be cleansed. My friend, you need to be cleansed by the almighty sun."
"But how?" I asked, recalling the tale of Icarus and his melting wings, "There is no way to reach the sun."
"Tell me," he said, as if ignoring my statement, "Where else can the sun be seen besides its home in the sky?"
Clueless, I stared at the hippie, awaiting an answer. His eyes turned to me, then turned face front, gazing at the clear, blue river before us.
"Its reflection," I realized.
"It may not be the embodiment of the sun," he began, "but it is the birthplace of the father. The sun will always remind us of that."
I stood. My eyes now locked down on the waters as if they were involved in some sort of fairy dance.
"Return, my friend. Return to your father," my guru beckoned, "Be cleansed. Be one."
I took off running and dived straight into the water. The second my flesh came in contact with it, I could feel the shadow leaving my side. How foolish of me to forget that shadows can't exist underwater. I was free at last, I felt so pure.
I kicked with my feet and rose to the top of the waters. My head bobbing, I could see my hippie friend changing the record on his turntable. Then, his hands returned to his lap, his eyes closed and his head bowed.
I began to swim back to the shore, when I spotted another figure on the beach, standing right at the coast. My shadow.
If I stepped foot on land again, my shadow would be on me in a second. He'd exist as long as I did, and he'd probably wait for me as long as it took.
Infuriated, I sank back down into the river, down to the bottom. I sat down there, stubbornly, and tried to think. There must be a way, another way.
"Perhaps," I said to myself, "if I wait down here long enough, my shadow will go away. Or perhaps, if I let my body be filled with the river, let my skin wrinkle like a prune, let my head bloat like a balloon, my shadow won't be able to come near me."
So now I put my plan into action, in hopes of remaining at peace with myself and my world.