Essentials


Picture a man.  No, not that man; picture someone more generic.  More generic than that.  More generic than that.  Perfect!  Picture this man living, for reasons either internal or external, in isolation from the rest of humanity.  He lives, for the most part, either with or like the beasts of the fields, and his life, although empty and base, has a certain oblivious contentment.

Now picture the arrival of a woman (you can use the same criteria that were given for the pictured man, if you like).  Woman's arrival shatters this man's isolation, drives the beasts either out of or away from him, and offers just enough possibilities of a base nature to hold his attention.  Woman's arrival heralds the awakening of self-awareness in the man.  By nearly anyone's accounting, he's better off than he was.  This isn't without a price, however.  The things that once pleased our imaginary man no longer offer him any satisfaction.  The opening of a wider world brings with it the knowledge of the man's own insignificance.  He struggles to cope with his new world, and occasionally wonders whether or not his life is as greatly improved as it appears on the surface.

Can you tell me what play you were just picturing?  If you're anything like me, your answer is "most of them."  The Book of Genesis is Dangerous Liaisons is Flowers for Algernon is Fight Club.  It's the same story, over and over, echoing off of the page and into our lives.  The story is bigger than we are, though.  It's been around since before our births, and it will be told, in one form or another, long after everyone who remembers us is dead.  This story isn't the echo of our lives; our lives are the echo of it.  We can look into the mirror, and see that our lips are only moving because our reflections are speaking.  This is how I met Enkidu.

After enough repeated and intentional chemical alterations to one's mind, one can come to accept brief visits from errant near-gods as being relatively commonplace.  Normally, however, I have to seek them out, or at least mentally prepare myself for their arrival.  Enkidu came uncalled, or I came to him without willing it.  This is one of the more annoying parts of being someone's echo; you get called back to them, not the other way around.

When Chelsea first became a central figure in my life, I was completely out of touch with regular human society.  I shared a tiny apartment with thirteen cats and two crazy people, often without the benefit of electricity or hot water.  Most of my meals consisted primarily of canned meats, soaked in some sort of sauce, and eaten straight from the can without heating or utensils (I have been known to "chug" entire cans of chili).  I, in turn, provided ample food for the thriving flea population that was breeding in the carpeted floor that I slept on.  I went days without seeing the sun, I stopped caring that the apartment was covered in dander and fecal matter, and I fornicated with anything that showed an interest.  I could go on, but I suspect that you've gotten the point.  Eat, sleep, shit, fuck.  I lived this way for over a year, and I didn't make any effort to change things, because (despite my near-constant misery) I was content.

Chelsea, to her credit, knows how to bring an animal to heel.  Through a clever combination of sex and pie (no, that's not a typo), she (over the course of many months) brought me back into contact with humanity.  My life is, in just about every imaginable way, improved by her presence.

Enkidu, though—he riles at this.  He's an archetype, so he can't change his story, and it drives him up a wall that I could change my story, but choose not to.  We stand on opposite sides of the mirror, and we glare at each other, because he can't stand that I won't change what we are, and I can't stand that we wouldn't have ended up this way if he hadn't done it first.  Reflections are always trouble, when you've got old gods running loose in your psyche.  Speaking of which, did I ever tell you about the time that I met Psyche?  A story for another day, maybe.  
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