I remember spending afternoons in the sun, running in the open air, chasing butterflies and climbing trees, looking for fireflies after the sun went down, collecting the sticks I could find that would've made good pretend-swords. Exploring the woods, jumping into piles of pretty leaves in the fall, sledding in the winter. In the spring I would sit in the green grass until I'd start to get itchy, and during the summer I'd go fishing, and I'd throw the fish back two seconds after taking it out of the water because I was scared he'd suffocate.
My favorite activity for a long time was walking my bike all the way up the big hill at the end of my street, just to ride it right back down, faster than lightning. Feeling the cool wind in my face. My mom told me to stop wearing the heels out on my shoes when stopping my bike, and I couldn't fathom the concept of just letting the momentum slow me down. Instead, I began jumping off my bike and letting it smash into the fence at the end of my street. One time, I landed on my head, rather than my feet, and my face was swollen for a week. I was embarrassed to go to school, and I was lucky I still had all my teeth. But it didn't stop me from pushing the bike right back up that hill and flying down it again and again. Mom was pissed.
She couldn't understand, though. I'd go so fast that for thirty seconds, speeding past blurry houses and street signs, I was untouchable. She could never fathom the sheer scope of power at my fingertips, I must've thought. Through pushing my bike up that hill, I had ascended to places beyond mortal comprehension.
I imagine that, at the time, it seemed like things could never get better than this. Yeah, sure, eventually I'd grow up and be able to live on my own and make my own decisions, maybe even get to kiss a girl if I were lucky, but there was a kind of freedom in those thirty seconds that I still haven't seen, approaching my mid-20's. It was lightning in a jar, I guess. I was maybe 10, probably younger, and I had this confidence and determination that couldn't be tamed. Granted I was determined to do nothing meaningful at all, but it was the most pure and honest dedication I've ever seen.
That's the problem, is that the minute Bill, in his infinite wisdom, decided to start giving meaning to every thought, feeling, choice, behavior and action, was the exact minute everything became so futile, so pointless, to where it almost felt disrespectful or embarrassing to try to try to reason with things. To lend purpose to everything, in my own delusional head. It's where things started heading south. This is Bill's dilemma. But little Billy, he had no existential questions to answer, no principles, no deductions to come to, no logic to adhere to. Little Billy could've given a fuck about the world, about life and death, about his place in civilized society. No discernment to be reached. No ultimate judgement. Little Billy had his Fruit Loops, his DVD copy of Spider-Man 2, his pro wrestling on Friday nights, if he could keep his grades up. Little Billy discovered the great answers, the rationalization of reality in his fuckin' Tony Hawk games. Little Billy never had to chase the truth, the truth found him every day, after school, in Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide. That's what he fought for, and what he stood by. It's all he needed. If little Billy only knew that, 15 years down the road, boring grown-up Bill would be fighting in his name.
It used to be, I'd stay up way later than my mother said I could. You probably did the same. Lying in bed, partially covered in a blanket, maybe watching TV or playing a game, ready to completely cover yourself if you heard the doorknob turn. Not as though it'd ever actually fool your parents, nine times out of ten it wouldn't. You knew that you could probably watch the same show the next day on TV, or pick up the video game right where you left off after school tomorrow. The controller would be right there, in the same place you left it. The same logic we search for in day-to-day life, dictates that there was never any real point in staying up late at that age. You'd be tired in class the next morning.
Today, I stay up late because of some sort of obsessive, neurotic sense that if I haven't accomplished anything serious that day, I'll be wasting the day. It'll be 10pm, I'll be getting tired, and without even having a conscious thought over it, I'll quietly and slowly freak myself out. Self-loathing always comes from dread. I have to assume it's partially subconscious, because it's hard to find any sense to it. As I said earlier, applying logic, applying reason, to everyday feelings and thoughts, is a never-ending black hole of shame most of the time. Drives me fucking batty. So I'll sit there on my dusty futon, smoke a bunch of weed, watch some garbage I don't even find interesting on YouTube, feeling jealous and inferior over some stranger's videos. Shameful about my own YouTube channel I've been neglecting to create content for. Then I'll smoke more weed, and pass out. My cat sitting there with me, probably feeling embarrassed for her owner.
Could be that I'm just wishing my mom will barge through the door and tell me to get my ass to bed. Hoping against hope. I've always loved that expression.
There's a lot of things about the way my own mind works that I struggle to understand, even a little. The same terrible reasoning and deduction would probably dictate that this "internal strife" is my own self having a problem with overindulgence and aversion from accountability. It can be so hard, however, to accept that things are that simple, that easy to acknowledge and overcome. Because what the fuck is living, if things are that straightforward? And then I remember, again, what it truly means for things to be simple, quiet, uncomplicated. It was walking my bike up the hill. There's a lot of hills today, and my bike has gotten heavier.
The thing is, if I ever wanted to ride down the hill, feel unstoppable, watch my neighbors' houses and the trees and street signs and everything go blurry, it means pushing my bike up the same damn hill. Steady-footed, resolute, unyielding. Determined. And despite things being hollow, trivial, and illusionary in nature, that thirty seconds going down the hill looks mighty appealing. And, after all, I've found determination in fruitless endeavors before, on the same hill. The question that remains after all of the contemplating and reflecting over what is and isn't worthwhile, is do we still have the same steadfastness we had then? The same air of confidence and bravery, the same lust for life that we might've had all those years ago? Can we find it in ourselves? Sometimes we find it in other people. Some people see that as love.
I think that I'm fighting in the name of little Billy because I have a hard time finding that conviction. Little Billy had it, and somewhere down the line, something came along and took it away from him. And I don't like that little Billy was done wrong like that. I want justice for that bouncing baby boy. I want to avenge him, to make the world know his name. Not the name of sad, pretentious grown-up Bill, but the legacy of little Billy. He deserved the world, and I have to give him that which was robbed of him. I want to die walking the bike up the hill, all so that little Billy might have those thirty seconds of godhood again.