Norman and the bathroom door

Norman woke up one morning to the sound of quiet rhythmic bed springs squeaking from the apartment next door. It was almost dawn in a couple of hours so he decided to check the news on his iPad. Nothing really stood out. Twitter was pretty much the same. He went to the bathroom and was startled to see blood in his urine, but it cleared up. The bathroom door was slightly open and it slowly opened further under gravity because it was poorly installed. Norman finished peeing and on his way out of the bathroom, bumped into the door. Instead of bouncing off the door as usual, his body shoved the door into the corner of the door jam, ripping the hinges out. With a huge bang, wood splinters, nails, hinge plates and screws flew off in every direction. The mirror and the plastic lamp cover over the bathroom light were cracked from the impact of debris. Plaster dust plumed out from newly formed cracks in the wall adjacent to the door. The dresser on the other side of the wall tipped over enough to cause the top drawer to open, then luckily it tipped back into place.

Norman stood there stunned for a long time. As the dust settled he listening quietly to hear if the neighbors were rushing over to see what happened. Nothing. Nobody came. He looked down at the smashed remnants of the bathroom door that plagued him for so long and felt vindicated. His upper lip curled and he quietly snarled "serves you right you piece of shit." He went back to bed and as he was slipping back to sleep he realized he didn't feel any pain. He felt his body where he impacted the door but there was nothing different. He thought he must have been dreaming. He slept for at least three more hours. He wasn't dreaming.

Norman and the quarter

Norman was going through his change looking for quarters for the washing machine when he came across a quarter that was so badly dented on its edge that he knew it would jam up a machine. Just yesterday he received it in change for his fast-food order. In a moment a tiny wave of frustration washed over him. The quarter was now stretched and shaped to fit around the pad of his thumb. There was a distinct impression of his thumbnail at the bottom of what now looked like an oversized thimble. He rummaged around the debris from the bathroom door he smashed hours earlier and found the hinge plate, then simply closed his hand around it. It was like putty. The more he worked it the hotter it became. The pressure on the metal from his hand was making the metal softer and it began to glow red hot. It became liquid under Norman's labor and drops of metal spilled onto the vinyl flooring and immediately caught fire setting off the smoke detectors.

Norman couldn't feel the heat from the metal in his hands, it just felt like a thick putty getting softer, like melting ice cream. He turned on the faucet and ran the soft glob of molten metal under the running water. The steam explosion was startling. He dropped the hunk of metal in the sink and went to the smoke detector. It only required a twist to remove it to access the battery, but for Norman it simply snapped off the wall and spun in the air. He managed to catch it but his grip was ungoverned by any laws of nature and the plastic device shattered between his thumb and index finger. The limp components remaining in his hand were silenced. The battery was split open and corrosive fluids were mixing with the circuits and dripping onto the carpet. The subflooring under the vinyl floor was smoking from the molten metal and Norman had to collect water cupped in his hands from the sink to douse the flames. After this ordeal he wondered if anyone had called the fire department or the landlord. Again, nobody called anybody or came over.

Norman's limits

Norman went into the bathroom and stood on the scale. His weight had doubled but he didn't look heavier, he was getting more dense. He noticed his weight also was rapidly increasing. He was leaving deeper impressions in the carpet and the floor was beginning to bend and groan as he walked. Living on the eighteenth floor he realized he better get out of his building while he still could do it normally. As he was walking toward the door of his apartment his foot punched through the floor. He heard screams from below and the weight of his body falling to the the floor bent a steel beam and released a slab of concrete from between the floors into the room below. The horrific shrieking and moaning was a clear sign that someone below was horribly crushed.

Norman tried to pick himself up but the downward force of his hands trying to lift his own mass simply punched holes or tore off structures. The steel beams and concrete crumbled beneath him as he shredded his carpet and floor foundation trying to crawl toward an outer wall. His only option was to punch through an outer wall and drop to the ground before he brought down the entire building. He finally made it to a wall. He swiped away plaster, insulation, wood frames and cinder blocks, then pulled himself into the daylight while the walls crumbled and collapsed around him.

From the ground people gathering could see a dust-covered figure struggling to crawl from a hole high on the side of a building. The person finally fell from the building and went into the ground. When people approached the hole they could hear Norman yelling for help. When fire crews arrived and lowered a camera into the hole it was already too deep, but they could still hear his screams.

Dusk of life in the dimming light of motivation

I don't see beauty anymore. I was once a photographer and graphic designer. I realized this when I was watching the film Chasing Ice. The photographer featured in the film was marveling at the beauty of his subjects. I realized that I once marveled at the same subjects, but no more. It reminded me how my digital photography became more problematic, with blurring, ISO settings issues, exposure problems, flash problems, etc. I was gradually putting less and less thought into my projects, and they suffered.

[ at this point I was going to rant about how miserable my life was, but then something dawned.]

It's simple conditioning really. If you don't get a reward for doing something, you stop doing it. I wasn't getting a reward because I was expecting the reward from certain individuals. I allowed myself to be demotivated by those people and it gave them a sense of superiority over me. I fell for it. They won.

When you do something to try to impress certain people, it will feel like a failure. If what you love to do does not impress certain people and they make you feel like your effort is a waste of time, then you should immediately find new people who will be impressed by what you do, and keep doing what you love.

There may be people who are impressed by what you do, but you don't value their opinions because they stand in the shadow of the people you are trying to impress. It turns out that people with larger shadows made their shadows larger through acts of malevolence. Those people are not worth your time. They are passive-aggressive in that they choose certain words to describe your efforts in a dimmer light than theirs. My mother once described my efforts to sell funny postcards I created with Adobe Photoshop as "peddling."

You Only Get One

There are those close calls and strange situations we call miraculous or extremely lucky. I came within six feet of getting struck by lightning three times in my life. The last one was so close I could see the lightning traveling along the cable behind the half-inch stained pine paneling. It glowed a bright orange through the wall as it reached into my TV, VCR and computer. It left me deaf in my right ear for about six hours. A tornado came north through the alley nearly a block from the very same house, a different storm that same year.

Driving, for everyone there are times when you realize it was a good idea after all, to stop when the light turned yellow. If you had continued through the yellow light another vehicle pulling out of a parking lot down the street would be up your grill.

But luck is different sometimes. For me there was the one Dodgeball game where I caught a ball in each hand and a third ball between the other two. That never happened again. There was the one time I bowled a perfect game. One time when I hit three home runs at a Softball game. Back in my teen years I spent summers playing cards with my sister and friends. It took me five years of playing Hearts during the summer before I finally won a game. That was back in the early 1990s. Back in 1989 I won a $20 wristwatch at a raffle. It was the only raffle I won, out of hundreds I entered.

The point is for me, no matter how hard or frequently I practiced, I was allowed only one win. Bowling, Softball, Darts, Miniature Golf, Billiards, Tennis etc. Those scores occurred on a twisted Bell Curve that spans for me not the particular event, but my entire life.

It gets worse.

I only had one broken bone in my hand, and it didn't even require a cast, just a splint. Wait, what's so bad about that, you ask? Well it's not enough to earn me sympathy points. I don't get any extraordinary diseases or illnesses that earn any kind of sympathy. I get illnesses like Gout and Psoriasis that are highly stigmatized but not contagious (They are both genetic preconditions). I can't walk very well and it throws a wrench into my exercise plans.  I also lost my hair when I was twenty two years old and just going into the Amphibious Navy where women were very scarce. My fate as a life-long bachelor was sealed.

So my life has been in the center of mediocrity, with only flickers of exceptionality, and never deserving of exceptional sympathy. There can be no greater Hell than to be mediocre despite one's efforts.

There was one period of time during my teenage years, for about three weeks, where I was thin and fit and had skin clear of Acne. That was it.