My knee, it's a-jerkin' and I can't make it stop!

Let me set the (northern hemisphere) scene:

Act I

It's autumn. The days grow shorter, cooler, and the intensity of the sun is waning. Some evenings, you can smell wood smoke drifting by on a soft breeze, and if you're outside long enough, you will hear the distinct rattle of dead, dried leaves careening off of things on the way to the ground, or skittering along a hard surface.

But right now, it is not the evening, nor is it night-time. The sun is up, and though it is brilliant outside, only a few lazy shafts of light pass through the panes of glass separating you from the world. Infinitely small motes of dust dance in and out of the light like tiny galaxies hurtling through space, utterly oblivious that there is a much larger world around them, but they are warmed by it all the same.

But you barely notice.

You don't take heed of the warmth streaming in, because after all, it is easy to take comforting things for granted. You pay no attention to the variance in colors, where the dying leaves of trees turn into the hues of fire as a last show of beauty before they expire, passing out of history to be recycled by time.

You are focused. A different light streams to meet your eyes; green, black and white, silver and blue, silver and blue. You stare at this artificial creation as if it is the only thing keeping you rooted in this dimension. You are nearly quivering in anticipation, because in two more minutes all will be right in the world.

Then, you glance outside, and think, "Wow, it really is beautiful out there."

And you look back to the dancing shapes, the faux shimmering created by an electronic panel.

BANG. Adrenaline fires through your body, and suddenly that feeling of an unexpected drop charges through you, viscerally. Something is wrong.

One minute has passed, only one precious minute. One minute you will never see again. One minute remains.

Somewhere in your bones, you feel a thrum, a deep and ominous vibration that you cannot quite place. But as it intensifies, the light outside begins to dim. The tiny floating galaxies no longer feel a burst of energy; it is a meek whimper, quietly being extinguished.

The floor begins to shake. You are sweating, and the rumble has become both audible and tangible. No bright light passes through glass into your world now, it is only a dark, bleak shade of gray. The feeling in your gut has gone from car-over-the-bump to full fledged freefall.

And then it happens. Something brown crosses something white, and a devastating crash knocks you nearly senseless. A tornado rips past your house, decimating the hibernating trees, and erasing all of the beauty they provided. The rumbling literally explodes into a full sized volcano in your back yard, and it is the pyroclastic Mount St. Helens type, not the tame Hawaiian variety. Blood! Fire! Ashes! DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!

It scours what is left of your property, and house, and everything you hold dear. This is the end.

Fade to black, drop curtain.

Act II

You awaken, floating in emptiness, pure agony the only thing left to you. After all, you live right near Philly, or worse, Detroit. You gnash your teeth, you rage, your fury is unmatched by anything in the history of man or beast. You lash at anything, in any direction, but it is all in vain. You try, but you fail to find the source of your pain.

You desperately search for answers, like trying to find patterns in the clouds. but nothing makes sense. Nothing seems to fit, everything seems to be just slightly wrong. You fume, and you vent, and finally, you despair.

Then comes apathy. You no longer care, or you try to pretend that is the case. In fact, you don't care SO MUCH that you start telling people how much you don't care anymore. Nothing can hurt me if I don't care, if I have no expectations. It's so Zen.

The gremlins are everywhere now, as well. Someone fed them after midnight, and then let them into a water balloon storage facility. They've multiplied exponentially, and the din of their collective voices is rising in a screeching crescendo, each one in itself a pitiful wail, but collectively, carrying the force of an avalanche. It will take considerable time for them to starve themselves quiet again, because they will eat each other first.

The tiny army advances on you, and you're caught hapless and helpless, with nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and no one to look to for aid. This is the second death.


As you lay helpless, destitute, you don't know it, but it's almost finished. The door bursts right off the hinges, shattering into splintering shards, and the doorway now frames an absolute tsunami of sunlight, turning the tiny army of gremlins into quivering piles of goo in an instant. Rathos comes, bearing a mirror and a bucket of water (after all, Aquarians are water-bearers).

Once the threat of gremlindom has evaporated, Rathos unceremoniously dumps the bucket of water right on your whimpering face, and then holds that mirror in front of you, demanding that you look at yourself.

He asks, "Is this who you are? Is this who you want to be?"



So really guys, here's the thing. Please jump ship instead of setting fire to it, because some of us are still afloat. Better yet, get a grip.

I know some neurotic people in the world, and each week, I seem to get to see more. Here is a thought: When the same problem is pervasive in several areas of your life, you need to search for the common denominator. In fact, you don't have to search all that hard, because it's probably you.

Take a deep breath. Don't be a floating mote that's insensitive to and unaware of the bigger picture and the world around. Notice the warmth, not just the lack of it.

Everybody needs to vent, it's true. I ate my fury by Sunday night, knowing that carrying that negativity around only makes me worse, and doesn't change a thing in this world except what kind of person I am.

One day at a time, one game at a time, process that.

Bring it gremlins! Homers unite! (or untie)

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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