He had all the answers and none of the answers, he was a walking enigma and yet at the same time everything he said was a total cliche. He was a total original and yet came across as being sickeningly bland. He wasn’t a human being, not as we ordinarily understand the term, and yet at the same time he was just another Joe Soap. I only met him once and in the course of that meeting he only spoke to me once. He only spoke to me once and that was to warn me. ‘Before very long’, he told me, ‘you will meet a lion, and the result of that encounter will either be that the lion will eat you or that you will eat the lion. It will either be the one way or the other and I need hardly tell you that only one of these outcomes will be to your benefit.’
Well, just as he had had said, a large, fierce lion soon appeared on the scene and before I knew what had happened it had devoured me whole. It was all over in a flash – one moment I was continuing on my way, puzzling over what has just been said to me, the next moment the lion appeared and promptly ate me. I was pretty resentful about that, as you might imagine – ‘What chance did I have anyway?’ I asked myself. ‘How is anyone supposed to eat a lion?’ Lions after all are big and strong and fierce, and most humans, if the truth were to be known, are small, weak and fearful. I know it’s not ‘the done thing’ to admit that we are weak and fearful, even to ourselves, but that’s how it is all the same. That’s just the way of it – lions are strong and fierce (as everyone knows) and humans are small and weak and fearful.
So there I was in the belly of the lion, which in its greed had swallowed me whole, and it was clear that I had the worst end of the deal. I was trying to imagine how different it would be if I had been able to swallow the lion instead, and if it had been me walking around with a lion in my belly instead of the other way around. I often used to try to imagine how strong and powerful I would feel if it had been me with a lion in my belly; I visualized how it would be if the encounter had gone the other way, if the boot was on the other foot, so to speak. This was very nearly beyond me to imagine, but if I tried hard enough I could just get the tiniest taste of how it would feel and boy was it good! There is no doubt about it at all – swallowing the lion would have been the better thing to do.
As it was now it was all working against me. The disadvantage was all mine because the lion had triumphed – triumphed almost without noticing, I would say – and there was I all helpless and pathetic, stuck in its grossly distended belly, powerless to do anything at all apart from watching on in entirely impotent and feeble way. Waves of resentment and bitterness flooded my system – ‘What’s the point in warning me like that, mere seconds before the lion pounced, and not giving me the slightest hint as to how I could go about turning the tables on that bloody lion?’ The enigmatic but normal dude with a completely forgettable face could at least have given me a few tips regarding how to go about eating the lion before it ate me. Obviously there had to be some sort of trick to it.
So I carried on thinking like this and the more I kept up with this self-pitying thinking the more bitter and twisted I got and the more bitter and twisted I got the more enfeebled and impotent and self-condemnatory I got. This spiral was clearly not taking me to a good place. I knew this perfectly well of course but I was powerless to do anything about it. I could only watch on. I was the helpless prey to whatever negative emotion came along to bully the life out of me next.