Rebirth of Reason

Sense of Life

Grandpa’s Ghost
by James Erwin Poling

      Sometimes, in the wee hours of the morning, I feel the weight of grandpa’s ghost wrapped heavy, and close, and chill, around my life.  He is always there, but when the house is quite, with just the buzz of the cat’s happy ignorance, and the radio’s hissing message of fear and jadedness; I feel him to be particularly close.  During the day I am too busy dealing with the results of his works to feel him on my shoulders.  Or maybe it is that a substantial part of him is out there, in those works during the day; when my mind is too busy to feel him directly--he finds other ways inside.  But in the mornings, he is close enough for me to feel him riding me, ruling my life, and I hate him.

      Maybe I shouldn’t complain, as ancestor’s ghosts go, he is at least subtle in his dominion over me.  But I think this is merely pragmatic on his part, knowing that a tight collar is likely to provide validation--to my rebellion.  In other places, the ghosts of ancestors are more blatant in their control.  They demand tributes, and to be consulted in all their children’s decisions.  They demand to be made icons, and then rule from that throne, the minds of their descendants. 

      My grandpa’s ghost rules in a different manner.  Rather than like a dog on a patrimonial leash, or confined to a preceptive cage, I am staked out on the “traditional” run; free to roam, so long as I don’t go to far, and get beyond the end of my lead.  Free to roam, so long as I don’t get tangled up in the epistemological garbage that grandpa’s ghost has left dumped in the yard.  I have seen those who get tangled up, and it is a horrible fate.  For the collar of their inherited culture is a sliding choke, and when they feel it tightening they panic, resisting all the more--until their lives are proscribed to one spot, their breathing restricted to short gasps of longing for the freedom they never really had.   Still, they long for the return of its illusion.

      But possibly my fate is worse, or more insane, for I willingly choke my own life; straining against my collar at the very edge of my run, I refuse to acquiesce to my proscription.  It is my own fault, I could submit, and lead a peaceful life barking on command with my neighbors--as the minions of Pavlov would have of me.  I don’t think they deserve the satisfaction, and I cannot bring myself to allow it to them.

      So I dig, and I chew, and I strain, trying to rid myself of my leash.  I walk the perimeter of my culture, and longing to get beyond it, I lunge against its limits.  Trying to break the leash defining my “freedom,” I chew at my culture’s traditions, hoping to weaken their binding fibers.  Knowing that the stake is the key, the center of the authority that restricts me--I dig at it, scrapping my paws bloody in an attempt to undermine its hold.

      Sometimes, when none of this works, I just sit and howl out my frustration.
      Sometimes, in the wee hours of the mornings, I just whimper them. 
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