I was frustrated with my existence. Thinking about suicide. Asking myself the big questions. Why don’t I feel normal? Why can’t I fit in? What is wrong with me? It was killing me. Everyone else seemed so good at life. Seemed to be getting by. Living well. They all seemed to know something I didn’t. I was somehow deficient. Bereft of this secret. So I sat, feeling quite alone. Feeling quite lost. Feeling quite surreal in my own skin. My reality was, quite literally, different from everyone else’s.
I’m not trying to bury the lead. The title says it all. If you’re looking for revelation, it’s up, not down. Go, fix that hinge. I’ve given you the key to all life.
On the outside, I was abnormal. I gained weight because I lived abnormally. I didn’t have children or romantic partners or friends because I chose an abnormal life. I opted into it. I was in a perpetual pout. Fueled by rage and depression and my own personal madness.
I didn’t realize that was what everyone experienced. Other people looked so normal on the outside, and I didn’t know how they could spend the time to shower. To get up to an alarm. To breathe among the teeming throngs of other people. What hell!
I don’t know why it was hell. I don’t know if I created it, or if it was forced upon me. Though, I think I created it. Because, I saw that broken hinge. Sitting there. Day after lonesome day. That hinge and the broken chair, and the squeaking car door, and the smoke alarm with no battery, and the pile of merchandise that isn’t selling. I saw all that, and couldn’t make myself do anything about it.
I had big plans, big ideas. But I couldn’t make myself fix that hinge. Couldn’t take an actual step forward. Would wonder all day how other people did it. How they found the will to fix that hinge, knowing that the chair and death would still be there.
You know, always with the death.
Didn’t know that’s what scared me. Given that I was trying to kill myself, it didn’t seem likely. But it’s that engagement. That fear of loss. That knowing that you’ll lose. It made me afraid.
So I couldn’t fix that broken hinge. I couldn’t engage with life in the smallest of ways. Until I did. And I cleaned a microwave and I gave a damn how I smelled, and I realized that my insides were like everyone else’s. Maybe not exactly, and I had tough spots just like they did.
That led me to thinking about my two neighbors. They are both young women. I began to see what life must be like for them, because we share a building. How I – a large man who seems dangerously unfriendly – must seem. And how I would react put in their minds. In their lives.
And in seeing me more clearly, I could also see how much of the world I was missing by not seeing more of it. By not seeing other perspectives, and not trying something to see how someone else might love it. I was shutting myself off from not only the emotional connections, but the experience of life.
Staring at that broken existence was seeing nothing but pain. Making the tiniest move to fix that existence, to do a tiny right thing, I saw how much I could do, if I found all the broken bits and put them back together. One at a time. Work in my area. Find other people working to fix hinges. Then we join together and fix bigger hinges.
But you have to know that you start with one hinge, and no one can do it for you.
Try not to die.