“Defender” as a symbol of my obscure mental life

It’s that special time to insert some cheesy graphics which serve absolutely no purpose other than to illustrate an undefinable and esoteric point about my psyche and which, most likely, don’t even do that very well.

But here goes.

Remember Defender?
Most likely, you don’t.
Do you know Defender?
It was an old 80’s style under-pixelated arcade two-dimensional video game which allowed you to steer your fighter jet or spaceship, never quite sure, right or left, up or down. In that sense, it played like a three-dimensional game because you needed to be leery of shit coming at you from 4 directions, up, down, left, right, and if you were moving, diagonally.

Here’s my cheesy video of a sample of the game play:

So now that I’ve become ridiculously distracted and strayed wildly from my point, let me just say I thought of Defender this morning as I drove into the parking structure at work.

Just before I arrived in Hollywood I found myself corralled into one of those great flows where everything just seems to go right. Have you ever experienced that? For a few moments, minutes, whatever, everything is just right. Your mood soars, all physical placements of your environmental elements seem to fall into place perfectly, and things are so good for that sliver of time that you wonder when the other shoe will drop, because it always fucking does. Drop.

Let me put it this way.
This morning was undifferentiated, for the most part. I showered, dressed, ate, lifted weights, drove to work, entrenched in a zombie-like pall that my daily work day frequently succumbs to. Rote maneuvers and automatic unthinking reactions litter and mold my day. I am a rehearsed robot, responding to a string of calculated commands. I have no conscious will during the work week. I mindlessly head in the same direction, mindlessly do the same shit, day in, day out, and most of the time I am a walking glob of carbon matter which obeys a higher chain of demands. So it was this morning.

Immersed in this zone, I drove by street, the gray clouds gathered, rain promised. Somewhere in or near Hollywood, I became stuck behind a large Staples cargo truck that wasn’t moving very swiftly and cars kept switching lanes in an attempt to pass it. Me, sedated by my robotic zone, just stayed behind the truck while everyone darted around me in hopes of passing the lumbering truck. I did not give a crap about the truck or making good time. Who the hell rushes to work? Only losers and idiots. Fuck that. I hung back and I stayed on the tail of this teetering Staples truck (which incidentally boasted, in a big yellow placard on the rear trailer wall, “this truck does not exceed 60 mph”) and just allowed my car to drive itself. Cars passed, so many that they began stacking up in the free lane next to us, piling on each other in their frantic rush to pass us. At one point, the truck suddenly lurched into a left turn lane, leaving my lane free and empty for 2 or 3 blocks. I was then able to pass all the cars that had become stacked by virtue of trying to pass the truck and me. Now I was passing them and flying down a portion of the street that is never empty at this time in the morning. I flew down the street, made it through a couple of yellow lights and hit my left turn at the precise opportune moment when no other cars were headed in the opposite direction (another rare occurrence) and I was able to turn left quickly and cleanly. Suddenly, physical elements fell into place, barriers gave way, the universe unfurled clearly and welcomed my progress for once! My mood lightened. I pulled into the parking lot and flashed my badge at the morning security guard who was feasting hungily from a bag of potato chips. “Great breakfast you got there!” I bellowed uncharacteristically. I don’t talk to people like this, you see. But the auspicious clearing of lanes left me in an accelerated state of energy. My spirits soared as I drove by another security guard who waved at me. I returned his wave enthusiastically.

This was one of those slivers. Happy, ebullient slivers where the precious briefness of time carries the slightest breath of joy and contentment. And as I walked into work, of course the euphoria began to dissipate, as it always must.

Ups and downs of our moods, they go like this.
For a moment pure happiness lifts your spirits; and for another, pure dread and unease trample your spirit in the same breath.
Up, down.
Life is your landscape, your memory is your joystick.

You can live backwards, you can hope forward.
Up, down, are oblivious to the forces of memory and this dramatic interaction of your moods and fleeting memories and aspirations are entangled with the moments in time where you place yourself, then, now, or tomorrow. A morass of actions and intersections. For some, going back is natural; for others, going forward. Up and down confound matters. Two dimensions, but perceptibly, it’s like 4.