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Remember when David Letterman confessed to the world that he’d been sleeping with all the interns who worked on his show? And when Bernie Madoff admitted to stealing billions of dollars from investors? And when Amy Winehouse informed us that she didn’t want to go to rehab, no no no?
Everybody has some explaining to do once in awhile.
As for myself: the tiny flying monkeys that sleep in my joints—that come out sometimes to swing on my nerves, that make my feet buzz…that feed on my organs…that alight on my back…these winged monkeys that are so small, I can’t see them coming—had taken to gnawing at my brain again. I know that’s hard to believe, but I’ve never lied to you before. “Brainfood”, to them, does not mean reading a book or attending a lecture. It means burrowing into my cerebellum until pink tissue starts oozing out of my ears and nose.
Everybody knows you can’t go around like that. What to do? I’ve come to learn that you have options when this or something close to it happens.
Option #1: Actually, you could choose to go around like that. People will look at you like you’re crazy-sick—which you soon will be with your brain tissue exposed to the elements—but it’s your choice. People will want to touch your brain inappropriately and you’ll probably let them, and then you’ll have a dirty brain (not to be confused with a dirty mind). If you’re okay with brain tissue coming out of your head’s orifices because tiny flying monkeys are having their way with your sanity, that’s your right.
Option #2: You could try to get rid of the monkeys all on your own. I’ve tried to do that many times, squeezing them out so hard that my knuckles turned white and my turkeys went cold. At first this would scare my monkeys into remission—maybe for a year, maybe a month—but they eventually learned that I was no match for them. Back they would come, faster and stronger than ever before, having rested up and exchanged information about how to take me down the next time. I don’t recommend this option; it rarely works. There you’ll be in your life, all alone, trying to keep your monkeys under control when they are silently plotting against you, waiting to pull the trigger. They’ll watch you from the inside out, chomping at the bit, weakening you until you just cave in.
At least that’s what it was like for me.
I might add that tiny flying monkeys reproduce very quickly in the dark. The more you try to pretend they’re not there, the more Pearl Harbor you get when they eventually launch their next attack.
Option #3: You could ask for help. That’s what I did. My monkeys had multiplied and divided to the point where sometimes I didn’t want to get out of bed. My nerves were raw, my insight was going, my joints were aching…but that could’ve been because my brain was so befuddled, I often forgot to take my meds. I had to reach a place—a real place, not an imaginary one—where there were other people suffering from the same disorder. There were people in charge there who had successfully battled their own demon monkeys, who could show the rest of us how to draw on powers we never knew we had: anti-monkey powers. We meditated, we fellowshipped, we prayed to the God of our own understanding; we found our appetite for life again (mine emerged in small-group). We worked in the kitchen and wore signs around our necks: “Ask me what I’m doing today to kill my monkeys.” We learned that you can’t fight them alone, not the internal ones that buzz around eating your brain and organs, not the external ones that cling to your back, blocking the sun.
Option #3 is the best by far.
So, good for David Letterman for coming clean about his sad parade of susceptible interns; if you recall, he had some help in doing that, in the form of blackmail. Good for Bernie Madoff, who reached his real place (prison) with the help of being caught red-handed. And good for Amy Winehouse, in a better place now, cleaner and whiter than any place she’d ever lived before. We know she had some help in getting there, the bad kind of help that tiny flying monkeys give when left to their own vices.
And here I am, back from a disciplined place where monkeys don’t fly and not much else does either. I’m home a littler earlier than I’d expected, but better early than too late, right?
Better early than too late.