“We all want something beautiful. Man, I wish I was beautiful” – Mr. JonesCounting Crows

So what’s the worst possible thing that could happen? I’m not talking death or taxes or earthquakes or cancer; not talking about things over which we have no control. I’m talking existentially. And conversely what’s the best possible thing that could happen? Could they be one in the same? Could they be true both on the micro personal level and the macro level; true for everyone’s life? And finally could this one thing be true for all of us from the stink of the diaper to the stench of the shroud?

Maybe it’s the full moon in Scorpio that brings me to this or maybe it’s that Scorpio girl. They say reincarnation is rooted in the idea that we keep coming back until we get it right. It was something I knew that was just right there like getting a pain in my eye each time I took a sip from my teacup and finally discovering I only had to remove the spoon to be free of the pain but I just kept missing it.

Like reincarnation I kept coming back too until finally I got it right. Like a teeter-totter I went; up I love you and down I hate you. She would cut me and I would bleed and after a while I would cut her back and every time I did I felt small. So I would return to my default position of love and the cycle would repeat.

It wasn’t the cutting that hurt; that part didn’t matter. It’s what happened after that that mattered; the feeling small part. But I just couldn’t get it. I kept thinking it was her until I got tired of the drama and decided to figure it out. She didn’t have the horses to make me feel small, to make me feel that weak “lose of armor” tingling in my balls. Only I could do that to me.  

I was reacting as we all quite normally do; someone hits us low and our first reaction is to give back the blow often even harder. It’s sort of what’s wrong with the world, yes? It was even harder for me to get conscious on this item since vengeance and revenge were my birthright; a coin of the realm where I came from. Besides I’m a lion and can swat most anyone down with one blow; two at a time if you like. Pick em’. 

I always thought Jean Paul Sartre famous quote “hell is other people” meant what scholars said it meant; Plays were written about this slice of philosophy, Hell I even wrote a piece on it. The idea commonly accepted is this: other people pick up signals of our aura and adopt and idea of whom we are and project that image back to us. Then we pick up the signals of how they see us and begin to act in the way that they see us and thus become; not ourselves. Ergo; hell is other people because they make us behave other than we are.

But now I think he meant different. I think he tapped into that age-old mystic, religious, philosophical truth. It’s what Christ said; “turn the other cheek” and what Gandhi said; “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind” and what Martin said. I forget the quote but essential it was to the effect of “when they hit us on the head long enough and see enough of our blood eventually it will make them sick and they will discover their humanity”.

They were not saying be a saint or godly or a martyr. They were not saying don’t fight back. They were all a Spartacus. What they were saying, what Sartre was saying, was “save yourself; do not become the things that you hate”. Hit back to be sure but when struck with a low blow, a thing you hate, not the person doing it but the thing itself, do not respond in kind with a similar low blow and thus become that very thing you hate.

The actions of your adversary have left them without their humanity, lost. Do not follow suit and lose yours as well. Rise above; grows wings if you have to because here everything that matters is at stake. Every time she cut me low and I cut her back low I felt small because I had at that moment become the thing I hated the most.

So, the epiphany; the worst thing that can possibly happen to us is becoming the thing we hate. And the best thing that could happen to us is we do not become the thing we hate. It is true in the positive and the negative; true for us on the micro individually level and on the macro level collectively, true from the cradle to the grave.

Aristotle said “there is only what we do”. True that. I image how great these men and women are who can do this thing, not for anyone other than themselves to be certain, but in the doing make the world a better place. How beautiful they were and are who can find the courage, the strength, the honor and personal dignity to do this thing; and don’t we all want something beautiful. Man, I wish I was beautiful. When Puffy Combs met up with Biggie Smalls, Puffy said “Big, we’re gonna change the world”. Biggie retorted. “Puff, if were gonna change the world; first we gotta change ourselves”.

There’s a related item that correlates and I’ll share it. All the names of the men I admired shown above died, were assassinated, for the same reason; they were unpredictable. Their enemies could not predict how they would react and thus could not control them and in the big power game of life those they can’t control they kill.

Allowing others to make you act in the way they predict can also be fatal. It goes both ways. It’s a subtlety that must be mastered if you want to piss in the tall weeds with the big dogs. Those that know won’t say; those that say don’t know. Allow me.

Remember Sonny Corleone and how his enemies shot him on the Causeway? They planted a mole inside his family, his brother-in-law Carlo. Then knowing how Sonny would react; the puppet masters had Carlo beat on Sonny’s sister and sure enough she called Sonny and as predicted he went off half cocked to clobber the guy. His enemies only had to wait for him. Bullets didn’t kill Sonny. He killed himself by being predictable.

My best friend tells me I’m unpredictable. True that. Many times I have protected myself in this way. Those smart and hard enough to come won’t; once they think it through and decide you’re too unpredictable to tackle. Those too dumb to know will easily be vanquished. I’m pretty sure that coda is somewhere in Sun Su’s The Art of War.


About circusinpurgatory
Nick Masesso Jr’s fictionalized short stories, poetry and prose have been published in the Starry Night Review, Elegant Thorn Review, Language and and Vagabond Press; the Battered Suitcase. His latest book “Armor of Innocence” and first book “Walking the Midway in Purgatory, a Journal” are available on-line and through bookstores.

3 Responses to Reaction

  1. Roy says:

    Our familiy philosopher once again coaches us on how to cope with, or overcome adversity with grace, and avoid the tricks and traps, often of our own making

    • circusinpurgatory says:

      Roy Boy,

      Prego. You are sprezzatura (an Italian idiom meaning effortlessly cool).



  2. James Mcfarland says:

    Potent with philosophy, spiritualism and start reality, Author Nick Masesso catapults to an etheric region of literature, invoking a full spectrum of revelation ranging from Spartan history to modern hoods trying to get it right. Behind man’s manipulation, Nick reaches in search of our place in purgatory, helping us gather enlightenment in a madcap world bordering near the infernal reaches of Hell. A 9.7 rating.

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