Rocket Science and Brain Surgery

by tobias crabtree

I’m building a rocket ship for the just-in-case. You know what I mean? For the just-in-case I gotta find some other way to find my way. You never know when things might break down. I put the question to myself quite often: what are my reasons for being here? Oh yeah, that might sound like I’m trying to be all deep and philosophical, but it’s really anything but that. That question sometimes rolls up on me in the late night with fangs and claws and a bile filled heart. It’s a question that, when left unanswered, grows and screams and becomes the master. I hide, or worse, I get trapped and grovel.

I don’t like dropping into the dark like that. I reckon we all have our questions and maybe I take things a little to seriously at times, especially when left to myself. With friends, I can and will find a way to play. My buffoonery proceeds me. I have leopard print pants that fit way too tight and cause people to look away in awkward glances. I have dressed as a puppet, hell I’ve been a puppet, I was in the Service. When I can, I will lighten the heavy with an inappropriate joke. I will feign being a cry-baby when I don’t get what I want. I’m a fool when at all possible and like most buffoons, when I drop too far inside, I find that the bottom is too far down. It’s tough to explain and I struggle with making sense here.

Maybe I complicate things. The coyotes don’t sit around and wonder about reasons for being; they just chase down rabbits and yip at sunsets. I’m sure the buddhists have an answer, I should ask my buddy, Dave Kenneally. It’s probably one of them things that’s right under my nose, some tricky set of words like, the reason for being is to be. But my problem is that instead of yipping at the sunset and just being, I’m yipping at the sunset and wondering if it’s the sunset that’s making me yip or if it’s my heart and what if the sunset didn’t happen, would I still yip? Or would I die from the pain of not having anything to yip about?

You think this is silly-talk, don’t you?

I had a good friend who shot himself in the head while his wife was tucking their child in down the hall. He was a good dude, never said anything to anyone about something being wrong. I have always wondered what caused him to do what he did. How big was the monster that crawled into his heart that evening so much so that he sent a bullet in to stop his thoughts. How far down he must have gone into that darkness.

There are Ones who have a certain amount of lightness, it’s as if the beauty in their heart can’t be hidden by their skins. They walk around like them paper lanterns that float up into the sky. Like the candles that float on the rivers in India. They are beautiful in their very existence. My Ma is like that, she’s a light. My Dad too. I guess I collect friends that are Lights as well, so that when I start to get lost in the dark, I start trotting toward the fire. Makes sense. We’re all capable of generating these inner fires, we just gotta stir the coals down there in our guts.

As I sit and see the half-reflection of my face on the computer screen, I am reminded of the me of me. Reflection is a word with lots of meaning. I can see the sun on my face and it is light that causes my sense of sight to kick into gear. The swooshing of my heart is the only sound and it comes from the inside. There are flecks of movement in the trees just outside, crossbill in the mulberry tree. Chickadees at the back window. On the other side of the fence there is a passel of ravens talking it over, making plans about the future and how stuff would be so different if they were running things. I’m a cup of coffee deep into this morning. Darkness seems a long ways away.

I have a confession to make — that rocket ship that I said I was building, remember? Well, I don’t actually know how to build a rocket ship. I could draw one and it’d be cool but I am not a Rocket scientist, nor am I an Astronaut. I’ve been called a Brain surgeon before, but if you were to have heard the way it was applied, you would understand the sarcasm. The rocket ship is a metaphor (duh) for my way of escaping the heaviness that comes to us all. It’s built out of friendships and uses love as a kind of nuclear fuel. Fission, if you please. If we’re all made of stars, and I believe we are, then that would make love a by-product of the universe. We emit love like stars give off light. Like trees exhale oxygen.  Maybe we are rocket builders, one and all. Love is fuel, baby, let’s cruise!

Disclaimer:  Every single time I interact with a child, I am reminded of the value of life. The tiny hugs and laughs are enough dispel any bitterness I sustain from my stubborn, life-worn opinions. Children wield love like a light-saber, chopping and cutting to the core, and it is that kind of love I’m talking about in the essay above, not some kind of cheesy, acted-out form that we read about in beauty magazines or see on some god-awful reality tv show.