[i've got the world on a string]
I'm standing on the overpass where someone from my high school killed himself. In broad daylight, one warm spring morning, he crawled over the chain link fence and jumped. 20 feet below, he was crushed by the oncoming traffic. He was popular kid, with no obvious reason to kill himself. He was a a little emotionally unstable, but then again, he was a teenage boy. Rumors went around school that he had shot someone in Detroit when a drug deal gone bad. I don't know the truth, or care. Lots of people die all the time with little fanfare. Life and death are intimate companions.
Some days, I like to imagine what it would be like to jump. First, there'd be the rush of pain, followed by an ecstatic flood of the body's natural painkiller, dopamine, to ease the suffering. Last, I'd experience the psychedelic glory of a flitting consciousness, the ultimate dilation of time, and the grace of a pure white light.
But tonight, I find myself bewitched by the headlights of the passing cars beneath me, by the never-ending glowing stream they form. I half expect an electric neon fish with a McDonald's logo on it to jump out of the stream and wag its tail before diving back into the glow. Detached from nature, I find reality to be incredibly relative. To my left and right, the power lines seem to stretch on forever, directing my vision to some distant horizon whose focal point I can't fathom. Five miles to the south is the Ryan Correctional Facility. The woods are somewhere north of here. People are going every which, like ants in a colony, thinking but not really thinking, creating a world they don't understand. They don't understand how satellites work, or weather patterns, cars, or cell phones, but they have opinions about them.
And, suddenly, understand this, I get this megalomaniacal urge to control it all. I want to be president. I want to be CEO. People will do whatever you want if you give them a few shiny toys and a little bit of free time. I've given up my future for that lifestyle.
Here, in Michigan, we're experiencing the first stages of economic austerity. The governor Rick Synder is raising taxes and cutting spending. What's more, he's even pushing for an emergency provision that would allow him to dismantle the governments of financially insolvent towns, replacing the democratically elected officials with his own lackeys. Our opportunities are diminishing and we're losing control of our lives. People are mad. Austerity is what led to the riots in Greece and the revolution in Egypt. We had the power to build a brighter future and we let it go without a fight. We could've stopped the pendulum. But we let the man in the noose keep swinging. We let history repeat itself. Like dumb animals, we thought things had finally changed for the better as the pendulum reached its highest point. But now it's swinging in the other direction, and faster than we could ever realize.
Bad times are ahead. I can see the cracks in the mirror. The cars below me are running on gas that costs almost $4 a gallon. The network of roads they drive on are underfunded, and the potholes are getting bigger every year. Most of Detroit looks like a war zone because whites and blacks couldn't get along together.
The first thing they teach you in Alcoholics Anonymous is that you have no control. You have to surrender yourself to a greater power, like God or money. Sometimes you need that. Sometimes, you need to put out your cigarette and take a leap of faith. Twelve steps and then a sheer drop.