I grew up admiring crazy people. That their own minds were a wellspring of creative inventions more fantastic than the video games and cartoons I so adored filled me with awe. To think the contents of their imaginations could so overwhelm them as to render reality insensible—it was wonderful! I longed to go insane, even knowing it was another fantasy to be hidden from adults at all costs.
Adults worked—they paid taxes, cooked, cleaned, and spent untold hours in traffic. The little time they spent with friends seemed joyless compared to the giddy, enthusiastic play of children. They claimed to enjoy reading the paper, which they did with a look like they were waiting in line.
Children never much appreciate being cared for. There is no satisfaction to be gained from the bitter toil adults render for children's sake—especially when parents withholding such care could spend long years in prison for child abuse. Who can feel grateful for what is given only begrudgingly, and by force? Likewise, I was not thankful that starving children in Africa had it worse—the thought of suffering worse than my own, which the world did little to remedy, only made the world all the more hellish.
Adults were clearly inferior. They had lost the ability to dream as children do. Yet schools existed to transform children into adults—from talking monkeys exploding with energy into cogs trapped in a dreary machine. I escaped into fantasy, protected by the privacy of my own mind. I could do anything I wanted—be anything I wanted—a ninja princess having adventures in a prehistoric jungle, or a mad scientist making monsters to populate my happy cartoon village—but all I really wanted was to retain something of what made me better than adults.
By high school, I had already died a little inside. I did not fit in. Not to fit in stripped you of status. Being stripped of status made you a target for abuse. Abuse brought you violence and pain—and one has little to dream of crying themselves to sleep at night. The cycle repeated as the mistreatment solidified my not fitting in—mistreatment is a ritual whose magic is to make the mistreatment normal. To fit in, one needed to conform and to compromise one's dreams in the hope of surviving to dream once more.
I deeply considered many modes of escape. As a child, I considered running away, though, there was nowhere to run. Later I considered monastic seclusion. Were I to find a monastery where a man might grow his hair into a long girlish mane perhaps I would even now be chanting the White Lotus Sutra. For a time the thought of marooning myself on a tropical island to live as a lone jungle savage seemed promising.
Still I find myself wishing to fall asleep never to wake up—to live the rest of my life in dreams like fair Endymion. While I have always been prone to nightmares, some of them quite horrific, I still prefer them to my life. There are viscous tortures and unspeakable depredations in my dreams, but it's not as though my mind is not pained by them when I'm awake—the verisimilitude of miseries simulated by the imagination is key to any successful regimen of torture.
And yet, even my nightmares are wonderful in their way—though I suffer, it is always a poetic suffering. I might find myself fighting a hopeless battle on a freighter in deep space, firing hoops of electro-magnetic plasma at hopping crustaceans with bites like bear traps as the last of the air is sucked down the gills of their watermelon-sized eggs—or kidnapped in the sewer system of an ancient Egyptian pyramid in the sky where a gang of abusive American spies forces me to participate in counter-insurgency warfare against a race of friendly bird-men—or perhaps I am simply wandering through an abandoned amusement park, at night, in winter, as a child while some sadistic pedophile stalks me from afar.
Then, at least, I am in the present. I can scarcely remember how the dream began or that I'd ever dreamt anything different—I am not haunted by memories of abuse, rejection, or humiliation, nor do I much anticipate the bitter struggles that await me in the future—I am immersed in the logic of the moment. Driven by my own will, my latitude of action creates its own meaning.
Awake, my constant awareness of past and future render all action meaningless with proofs of its constant failure—nothing ever changes but the contents of our suffering. Dreams change and evolve. There is always the possibility of exploration, adventure, and escape, if only into the next nightmare. To live like this, even in a padded room, seems like it would be an improvement.
Lately I've been troubled by the world's hostility—to mental Illness, the poor, to transpeople—but I suppose such ignorance belongs only to the inferior life forms who populate the world of adults robbed of their dreams. As long as I am able to remain the child I was inside inside myself I will always be more fortunate than they are.