On February 15th of 2012, I wrote an entry about Mega Man X for “In Rainbow Colors”:
Sometime in the last five weeks, I developed self-concept problems. It might have to do with the fact that I am a writer who is writing seemingly little.
On the plane home from West Michigan, well over a year later, I wrote the stub of yet another journal entry. They sit on my desktop like dead buds on a magnolia tree after a late frost. There is one where I almost wrote about this stage I have passed into, calling it a “quarter-life crisis”. For weeks I had been painting my future in light strokes, hinting to family and friends that I was going to continue in conflict resolution with an emphasis on narratives and arts based approaches. George Mason University was at the top of my list and – then I looked at the price: my feet went cold. The education is worth the price, provided I really wanted to study mediation… (and… well…)
I am in a time of critical challenge and opportunity. The shock-waves finally reached the surface this week when I found myself crying over Skype. // It is time to embrace a new narrative for myself.
Another among the many unwritten journal entries is one called “Dutch Apologies”. I was composing it in my head on the train from Geneva to Zurich but I felt too emotionally drained to reflect on my debrief. This weekend will mark six months since I disembarked from Bethlehem for that mentally dislocating experience in France. I promised myself I just needed to space-out for a while and then I would put the pieces together again – I would salvage everything lost, was my mantra. Not a word has graced this page about the facility, the staff’s philosophies, or my meditations by candle-light. I spent a week with that facilitator but cannot remember anything beyond a few images and phrases.
I mused about who my cartoon super-hero avatar could be. Mega Man ‘X’ seemed to be the answer, by sheer exposure: I used to play Mega Man X on SNES every time I visited my parents during college – for the expressed purpose of blowing-up stuff.
I ignored my co-workers, seemingly ignoring me, as we wove through the alps, and argued with the facilitator in my head: “You need to climb down from your cross – you’ve given yourself the place that Christ should have in your life,” she says. “I can’t tell you the chapter and verse, but Jesus said something about taking up one’s cross…”
The more I dwelled on “X” the more I saw reasons to embrace his narrative as my own. X wakes from a long-nap in a time-capsule to discover a terrible development:
“You hate them, don’t you? You truly hate them—,“ she says. “I’m not sure, right now…”
Playing from the beginning, I ran into that city over a hundred times, through the gauntlet, to challenge a foe in a reinforced metal-suit. The game is designed in such a way that X cannot possibly win without being rescued…
“Your therapist doesn’t have to agree with your every view to help you.” “Maybe not but there are some basic facts—“ “No, this is not a matter of fact: this is your opinion.” “A wall more than ten times bigger than the one they tore down in Berlin is not my opinion – it was my everyday reality.”
This brings us to the first parallel: the self-hating robot. Down on his little, blue knees, X laments that he was not strong enough. X already knows he’s a self-hating robot in another, crucial way:
The therapist pegged me in one important way, which was that I was constantly ‘divergent’: going through the disorganized stage of grief. She gave me a piece of paper with the grieving curve on it, the slope angling precipitously into the darker and more self-aware stages of depression. My problem, now, is that I cannot remember how I went back into disorganization – I only know that I went deeper into confusion – and all my notes have disappeared. On some level, I must have wanted that to happen; sometimes the path of least resistance becomes the longest… and I was afraid of the darkness straight ahead. I went in circles.
I have been reluctant to embrace Mega Man as emblematic of my own purpose for fear it would expose my warrior dichotomy, wanting peace but moved to resistance.
It never occurred to me before now that revisiting the MegaMan complex might be the way to start revisiting France. I just realized that confession is an example of ‘the performative’: I am faltering, right now, to find something to say without trying to say everything at once. My paralysis, the essence of nothingness, is the ‘everythingness’ with which I anesthetize myself – my reveries, the internet, and of course…
I remain committed to nonviolence but my self-deprecation has been an assault on my purpose as much as on my self. I have been unwilling to stand tall and say “I am a prophet,” for fear that I will seem arrogant or combative. I have continued fighting on the outskirts of the city, popping plasma blasts at drones to stay alive rather than tapping into my legacy.
I confess again: I am faltering. Most of my reflection remains to be done but this is the end of Part 1.