by Donnie Casto II
It was the 2:00 a.m. loneliness that wore over him, like an old comfortable coat that was two sizes too small he felt he could never shed. It wasn’t so much he was alone or that he felt alone that bothered him, stopped the sleep he was too tired to fall into. It was those 2:00 a.m. nights that reminded him he was lost. Not lost in a geographical sense, but lost to the answer of who he truly was as a human being. He lay down in bed listening to the soft swirl of a ceiling fan in a pitch black room and in nothing but the utter silence that cuts the heart and the soul of a man to the quick. He was left to really wonder “Who am I really?” Not the roles that the duties and labels society gave, or the lies he told to himself that gave him purpose or identity, but who was the being that stared back from eyes that looked alive and vibrant with an illusion of life and purpose on the outside that had long died and was lost within.
“Is there an answer to all of this? Did I miss the angelic encounter moment that saved George Bailey? Would things really be so bad had I not known life? Is all I am a beautiful lost loser in life?”
He laid there in the night, hoping for a moment of divine intervention or something to answer him. At some point, he fell asleep with the same answer he had gotten repeatedly seeking those questions: nothing. It’s all nothingness on an aimless lost highway of the night.
It occurred to him that the glossy sheen of flowing booze, reefer that seemed to evolve him into a higher plane of even higher conscience every 2 weeks he experimented with, or the numerous women who could fan the fire in his loins but not handle the one in his heart had no merit in the real world. There was no happy-eve- after. The good guy or the lonesome loser never got the girl all the bad guys wanted as nothing more than a notch on their bedpost or a trophy to parade around until the next flavor of the month came along. There was no divine being or enlightened mystic who held the key to the door to all the questions or unanswered explanations of life.
There was something both liberating and dreadful about those pitch black nights at 2:00 a.m. On one hand, it certainly narrowed the amount of regurgitated religion that could be thrown in the dung heap of a fallacy that had been tested by the trials of his life. If the word of truth were to be tested or if calling on a name was preached as truth, at this point, every test found such faiths lacking and as of yet, no deity has ever answered the calling through anger, fear, and tears in their name. Talk about a proverbial ‘pull and pray’ only to find out that the Almighty had put you on hold.
On the other hand, perhaps it was the truth he was looking for and feared to admit. That truth being that perhaps he had more faith and hope in the supernatural or spiritual than the former had in him and many other lost souls of life. Each day putting on a happy face or rose colored contacts to hide a man with so much pain and uncertainty about life and his purpose in it got rather old. He felt like a proverbial Catholic in which the ritual of rising and kneeling became just a norm. There was no substance, no purpose, no conviction in the how’s and why’s of doing it anymore.
He just did it because anything less would certainly stir red flags. He thought to himself “If there is indeed a divine being that exist, it certainly has to be the equal of an absent landlord or at best, a cosmic clock maker who stands by and just watches the gears spin. Surely there is more to life than being another infinite cog in the gears of the machine.” He shook his head almost disgusted with himself in wanting to believe each individual, or even himself had held a higher purpose in life. Birth, childhood, teenage years, adulthood that was filled with the escapes of numerous drug and alcohol binges, even more sexual binges, planting himself amongst a thousand blind sheep who somehow found the Wonka Golden Ticket to tapping into that happiness that the media sold was what was ‘in’.
“If lying in a bed, alone at night, in a dark room with utter silence is death, I have really nothing to fear or regret when I do draw my final breath.” In that moment, there were bits of memories that flashed before his eyes. Times where he made a brief connection with other human beings; times he had taken the heart he foolishly wore on his sleeve and handed it to a woman who in a split second made him want to believe that maybe the good guy would or could win; times he stood by friends or co workers and thought ignorantly to himself that maybe he did fit in. He wanted to, but knew there was a mark or curse that would never fully allow him the peace and comfort to fully fit into this world without the repetitive voice reminding him in the back of his mind he’d have better luck making a voodoo deal at the crossroads with the devil than that happening. Maybe he was giving int o the last resort of a man betrayed and abused by a society who professed one moral and ethical code and abandoned it in becoming an agent of what the world wanted, but wasn’t prepared for the reality of.
It was the potential and promise of the hope of every hopeless romantic, stuck in the nostalgia of a past that could never be captured in the present moment, that kept him from throwing himself over the abyss of an edge that there would be no coming back from. Then again, taking the Vegas crap shoot of handing a pawn shop, second hand, recycled, and very broken heart stuck to his wrist from the time of his birth was all the edge of the abyss one man could tolerate. Women may have been gifted with the endurance of physical pain; the pain of childbirth certainly had to be worse on the pain threshold scale than any broken bone. Men, on the other hand, it seems were blessed with a threshold of mental toughness. It was the ideal that he had had loved twice in his life, that gave him the belief that he could possibly one day, love again. Part of him welcomed the idea of coming to an empty home, absent of love, and finding this beautiful woman, whoever she was. Another part of him wanted to ignore the obvious rose colored glasses and foolish ideal that each night the woman he truly loved was gone.
Even worse to accept, was the relationship not just with her, but the great cosmic being who created the world and mankind in his own divine image was absent from the scene. He wanted to burn all emotion and all desire for the need of touch, love, and affection. He wanted to curse the Hollywood love scenes, the televangelist scenes where a poor soul was blessed with a miracle from heaven, and most of all, he wanted to go back in time and simply die before the absence of the woman he loved and the reality this absent landlord clock maker most people called God had broken his heart, and the hearts of so many others in the world. Despite all the cracks, potholes, and cosmic cigarette burns this man had endured. There was a spark within him that refused to quit, it refused to lay down and die, and it refused to stop believing in the magical window to a past where heroes sat at a great café in life, a soul mate walking in the rain, and a time where a beautiful life existed.
He burned deep down inside for some kind of freedom, a sense of liberty, and a genuine unconditional love from within and without in the arms of someone who would simply build upon a cornerstone of what kept him going, a drive, a burning rage to survive when his back was against the wall and the deep seeded hope that just once; a woman of unique beauty, refined mind, and unconditional love would be the proverbial first mate to this lone captain sailing the ravaged vessel of his own being.
With hope and potential, there was everything to gain. Without the personal revelation of someone to love or divinity to at least give a sense of direction and guidance, what was there to lose? Here this man, stuck in a vortex between hope, reason, and possibility and torn apart by isolation, grief, and confusion of what it was at the 2:00 a.m. of the night that kept him wondering what was on the other side of the great beyond.