I’m thinking about the retreat center in France and the Dutch therapist, again. I tend to during transitions. It’s possible that I missed a kernel of wisdom. The red-flags were obvious but she responded so idiotically that I dismissed the whole experience instead of recognizing and exploring the warning signs.
There’s a fascinating triality between Robert Downey Jr., Tony Stark, and Ironman. Tony Stark is entangled with being Ironman and every scene is saturated by Tony’s personality, with or without the metal suit. RDJ controls the backwash; he doesn’t want the under-current to engulf him— Tony might be part of him but he isn’t Tony. Obsession is a cardinal characteristic of Tony Stark— the character’s final words are “I am Ironman”. Captain America puts down his shield as Chris Evans completes his contract— Steve Rogers no more.
Tony dies as Ironman to complete his heroic arc (and the actor’s contract). RDJ traced a fine line between pretending and embodying, putting threads of himself into Tony Stark yet never everything— never totally submerging in his work.
Distance. Not just physical & temporal distance, I believe, nor mentally vacating from a challenge to return later. It’s more nuanced. This distance is having a region of my self distinct from the work I’m doing. I’m trying to find the parts of me analogous to what Downey kept Stark/Ironman from directly influencing.
I wanted to be made of steel— neat interchangeable-parts, a mission, kicking ass —I imagined being those things but not possessing them— being possessed by ‘something greater’ but not truly having it until unknown qualifications are met
I belonged to a vision, not the reverse— I tried to build something large enough to crawl inside of, not something light enough to wear and exchange
I revisited the “MegaMan X Complex” entries I wrote in the summer of 2013. I needed some unfermented perspective from my ‘freezer’. When I read these pieces, I felt like I were trying to make my internal monologue into something a general audience could appreciate. Back then, I day-dreamed that dozens of people would resonate with my thoughts, then make thoughtful comments, and I would feel as if I mattered because of the work I put into writing. That never happened, for a mixture of reasons.
The MegaMan X themed entries are a striking example of an attempt to “build” a version of myself… whatever I was wasn’t what I wanted to be. I didn’t know how to make my work matter so I felt as if I truly didn’t matter. How could I believe any differently? Even now, I choke on the notion I have worth apart from accomplishing. This isn’t an easy paradigm shift.
I’m not trying to explore my negative emotions at that stage or any other. Those roots are too deep to pull in this piece. I’m acknowledging that I tried to resolve feeling worthless by putting on a “suit” of great deeds, exotic anecdotes and informed opinions— but never enough of those.
Telling me to “get off my cross” was like saying “just be your pathetic self.” I left Grand Rapids Michigan to become another entity! I wanted the backwash! I knew that I wanted it! I nearly knew I shouldn’t but I suppressed my better senses. I wanted a suit and to BE that suit, god-damnit!
I wasn’t carrying my cross, I was nailed to it
Let’s go a step further: I wanted to be a cross— I never said THE cross— and dissolve, not resolve, so I bled into it and it bled into me
Science makes a better tool than religion. The therapist suggested I had put myself “in the place that Jesus deserves” in my life. That was tangential to my problem and I easily crushed her misassumption with a scripture reference: ” —if so, then why did Jesus say, in Matthew chapter 15, that ‘you must take-up your own cross and follow me’? I have seen and I am responsible, too.”
I was better at being a missionary than she is at being a therapist— I still believe that’s a fact! When I left that role, I was looking for a new suit just as worthy: an advocate for global education! The religious globalist ceded to a secular globalist. When I couldn’t find work in that field? Collapse: build again. I take for granted that there isn’t a serum— Rogers is injected with something that multiplies his strengths… he’s intrinsically a hero, even naked and shield-less. “I want to punch [him] right in his perfect teeth”.
“Reverse Exiled” is rife with reflections on this pattern: I intended to show how I became a cross, a proto-Ironman, not just older versions of my pathetic self. Recurring themes include: transformation, reframing, cultural borrowing (new angles), poetics (beautifying it)— the list goes on. Trying to make a serum for myself, I made a series of exoskeletons: a body of work I could crawl into someday to feel warm and safe. That hasn’t happened.
Being a freelancer is a kind of anti-identity. That could be good for me. I can’t ‘be’ a freelancer. I have experiences, those are valuable. I have skills that indicate what I can do. Every piece of advice I get tells me not to worry about who I’ve been and shift focus onto what I can do for clients.
Jesus cryptically said “I am”. I’m cryptically saying “I’m just not, but I still do.”
What will I do next? What suit am I wearing, now, and how do I take it off? With or without a serum, I need to separate from what I create without sucking all of my essence from the work I do. I don’t want to become a robot (ironically).