Friday, October 16, 2015

The Nose

"The Nose" is a short story I wrote in the early 90's about a guy who had a hard time dealing with crowds. We each experience anxieties of one kind or another and in turn develop personal coping mechanisms for dealing with them. I wrote this story about an anxious character who had developed a somewhat eccentric coping technique lest he come unglued.

Reactions to this story have varied from shrugs to curiosity to laughing out loud. Of "The Nose" one friend wrote, "I can't remember the last time I laughed so much with a story."

The Nose

The crammed little bar sizzled with so much energy that it began to unsettle him. He wondered why he ever said he would meet his friends here.

His friends were late, and Ted's brain started running on the hyperactive groove that, once out of control, often left him terrified and unsettled.

But Ted Krueger had a mind game he played to help him gain control of himself in these situations. He would focus on an object, enabling his thoughts -- which at this point were so numerous and random that he felt overwhelmed by them -- to narrow their scope. In this way he was able to harness them and feel he had some measure of control over himself.

He held the view that though feelings were nebulous and impossible to direct, with a great effort of will thoughts could be managed and coerced, and that one's feelings would eventually come into alignment with the thoughts that preceded, and stirred, one's emotions. His feelings of terror were often so immense that only a more immense distraction could deliver him from being tyranized by his fears. Hence the game.

The game would lead him into a place removed from himself, a mental space where epiphanies occurred. Ultimately, on many occasions, he had a direct encounter with God. This was his own interpretation. That is, the game produced profound illuminations at critical moments in his life, which he believed to be meyaphysical insights, powerful and humbling. It filled him with a sense of awe and gratitude.

He knew that he had created the game out of necessity as a means of holding on to reality, to keep from flipping. He took no credit for it. In fact, he knew that everyone played games of some kind or another to stave off boredom or reduce the intensity of disquieting anxieties, and that this was nothing more than his own way of keeping control. In this regard he was quite self-aware and not really so odd, or so he told himself.

He knew that he had created the game out of necessity as a means of holding on to reality, to keep from flipping. He took no credit for it. In fact, he knew that everyone played games of some kind or another to stave off boredom or reduce the intensity of disquieting anxieties, and that this was nothing more than his own way of keeping control. In this regard he was quite self-aware and not really so odd, or so he told himself.

You can find the rest of The Nose here.

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