The Great Escape



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Elmer Bernstein¬†“The Great Escape”



I have gotten to know myself pretty well over the years. That’s one of the benefits of waking up every day in the same carcass; eventually you start to get a handle on what makes you tick. It’s not always as easy as it sounds as we often spend large portions of our lives deceiving ourselves as to who we truly are but ultimately most of us end up with at least a vague clue. I am forty years old and, to some, probably appear to be a particularly complex creature given my knack for constant self-reflection. But, when all is said and done, I’m really not all that hard to fathom. I’m a simple man with simple needs who just so happens to be allergic to heartache and unable to function effectively when it takes hold. For the past three weeks I have been a virtual ghost and many have stated their concern as to whether or not I have been okay during my protracted leave of absence. The truth is no as much as it is yes and I have deliberated long and hard about elaborating further as I never wish to put anything negative out into the world. However, there have been many times in my life when writing has been my therapy and, as much as I thought this was no longer the case, I’m fully aware that I am carrying far too great an emotional burden right now and need to exorcise some demons before my head rotates 180 degrees and I plunge a crucifix into my daddy parts.

So what is it that still keeps Keeper firmly entrenched in the doldrums? Moreover, how is it that such a happy, content soul can be so consistently starved of nutrients? Control is the key word here. I am not suggesting for one picosecond that I am what you would consider a control freak; far from it in fact. In truth, I naturally possess many of the characteristics of your everyday submissive and have no interest in being domineering whatsoever. However, right now I would settle for a modicum of authority in my life, as I have spent two years with my hands tied behind my back and the ropes are beginning to burn. Many of you will be familiar with my situation and know that I have been waiting for a change of circumstance which is taking its sweet time coming to be. This will be the difference between feeling impotent on a daily basis and being able to master my own destiny. It was meant to be resolved as far back as March and the proverbial carrot has been dangled enticingly before my nose for the past six months. Every time I lean forward to take a bite, it retreats to a safe distance and the process begins again. Talk about soul-destroying; this has become the norm for me and I have all but given up envisaging anything changing.

It will of course. I know full well that one day I will receive the good news that I am no longer absolutely destitute. But after a certain amount of time; it’s hard to imagine that moment actually arriving. This is why I struggle with my confidence and has nothing to do with me lacking self-belief. It has to do with feeling that life is playing some kind of cruel trick on me and from waking up every morning just praying for the day to end so that it delivers me one day closer to a favorable outcome. I have learned to be patient and have exercised that of a saint as I do as I always do; wear a smile for those around me and conceal any frustration I may be feeling as best as I can. It would be a different story if I received joy from bringing others down; I’d be happier than I have ever been in my life by this point. But I refuse to be that guy and also don’t relish having to explain how I’m feeling when it is so hard for anyone to know how to lend a hand. The truth is, there is precious little that anyone can do unless they own a functioning time machine. I just have to wait it out until I reach the light at the end of this particularly long and winding tunnel.

Being downbeat sucks. When my situation changes I pledge not to waste a solitary moment feeling sorry for myself or snivelling about how woe is me. But I still need to make it through countless more of these dour affairs before my spirits can finally raise. Depression has become an ever-present of late and my ability to lift myself above indifference, has evolved into a total lack of motivation. This means no writing and, when I’m not partaking in this, I leave myself totally open to the elements. I have lost count of the amount of times that my prose has gotten me out of a fix; there have been instances where I have felt the ground open up beneath me and been ready to leap in head first but, through putting quill to parchment, as it were, I have escaped my horrendous fate. Consider this another in a long line of rescue attempts; if creation isn’t currently an option then surely proclamation will do the trick. Better out than in, isn’t that how the saying goes? Much as I would prefer that the revolution not be televised, this appears to be my very best defense right now.

Recently I have spent time on the other side of the happy fence and this couldn’t have come at a better time. For the best part of two weeks I disconnected but, in doing so, I found the true direction I wish to be taking. I relocated my inner smile, temporarily banished a whole host of my demons, and returned from my short break absolutely rejuvenated and full of hope for the future. However, I returned to face the same conundrum I left behind me and not a damned thing had changed since my departure. Still there is no indication of the finish line and it has left me feeling even more frustrated than previously as I have had a glimpse of where I want to be in my life and feel ready to assume that role but without the necessary tools to make it so. I am basically a prisoner waiting for a parole hearing which keeps being delayed, leaving me with little more than four walls and some lumpy oatmeal porridge to keep me from swan diving. God, this all sounds so utterly depressing. Living it is no picnic either but, still, I apologize unreservedly for being so uncharacteristically devoid of glee.

I will always search for the positives in any given situation, no matter how disheartening it may appear. I am writing for the first time in almost a week which is definitely a move in the right direction. As I have already mentioned, each day that passes brings me closer to taking the power back in my own life, which is another reason to be cheerful. However, there is one thing that stands out like a primed pimple ready to be lanced, and that is knowing that I am never alone. I’ve felt that way at times and the most exasperating thing is that it is of my own doing as I naturally recede at times when I feel like death reheated. There are others suffering and I always remain mindful of the plight of others as I want nothing more than to wave a magic wand and take away any heartbreak. Then I remember that the quill is a wand of sorts and I am a conduit for its positive practise. I may not be able to conjure the rabbit from my own top hat but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still have a whole host of tricks up my sleeve. If I can help a single person to smile or empower them to do skirmish with their own monsters then I am moving in the right direction and taking a baby step away from my own gaping jaws of doom.

There are many things in life that we cannot change. I have no power to accelerate time and must therefore continue to play the waiting game for as long as that may be. Nothing I can do can speed up that process as it is entirely out of my hands. So the time has come to look at exactly what can be altered; last night I released my first piece of literature for the best part of a month and did so to an outpouring of love and support. I know that I can still raise a smile, can still touch another’s soul, can still brighten the outlook and shine through the clouds, even if just for a solitary person. I may feel beaten at times and those occasions may be closer together than I would prefer but there is still blood pumping around my heart and prose circumnavigating my dome so I have the necessary weaponry to fight for a little longer. When this is all over I will look back and laugh as I have no issue with doing so at my own expense. One day I will receive the news that my personal torment is finally over and my life can move forward rather than sideways. Until that time comes, I shall remind myself of the things which I can have a bearing on and attempt to forget all that is out of my jurisdiction.

All of this brings me back to The Rose Trail. I know of my chosen path and it continues to bloom habitually, despite where I find myself at this present moment. I feel great inner contentment and no longer feel lost in the woods as I did previously; just snagged up in a few stubborn branches. Eventually they will wither and release their grip and, when they do, I will march forward defiantly as I feel primed to do so once that time actually comes. Until then, I am in the very best hands as long as I peek my head out of the foliage and make myself known to those who evidently care. We all have shit to deal with and I don’t wish, for one second, to make mine out to be any more grave than that of the next person, but I can only remark on what I know in hope that it will resonate with somebody, somewhere. I will never give up for as long as there is air in my lungs; an oath which I made way back when I first began my pilgrimage and I stand by that unflinchingly until the very end. You see, I have gotten to know myself pretty well over the years and choose to remain upbeat over any of the less appealing alternatives. Thus, The Great Escape is still very much on the cards and, if nothing else, this exercise has reminded me that there’s still sufficient gas in the tank to make that happen.






  1. I’d say respectfully we are kindred spirits sir. At the moment I have peace, calm and even some happiness but there is always that destitute part that can crush the good right out of us. You aren’t alone and all we can do is march forward one word at a time slaying demons on the page when the real battle rages unseen in our own minds. What you do matters and that is far from nothing. Write on Keeper and I’ll be doing the same.

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