Youthbergs calving

My father called me yesterday. We chatted about his soccer games and the wonderful “kayak video”: Wesley posted about. He asked me a strange question in a hesitating demeanor quite unlike him. It’s a familial trait, where if you have something to say, your mouth just opens and words tumble out without any forethought for what the other person might hear.

He asked me if (in my High school days when I was a manically expressive teenager who was confronted and often bullied), I thought of seeking some sort of violent reprisal in the way Harris and Klebold from Columbine, and Cho Seung-Hui did.

I can say honestly that I _didn’t_. In some cases I can’t even remember the names or the faces of the kids who bullied me. Funny how time fades all things. I do remember the kids I pushed around, and twinge at the edge of sleep some nights unable to forgive myself for what I might have said or done. When I think about how it made them feel, I feel small. No one is invincible from the socialization machine that is public school. I really wish I had the money to send Gabriel and Isabella somewhere else. But such is life, my parents didn’t want to send me either.

I had too many doors open to me, two well educated parents who are married and in love, solidly if not overly middle-class. I had theatre, writing, soccer, sailing, music, and lots of friends to carry me along. Even when things looked especially bleak, I always knew there was something good around the corner. This may reveal my inner optimist, but I never got the darkening tunnel vision that I imagine Harris, Klebold and Cho Seung-Hui might have experienced. A world without options is a dark place. I never went to that place. I could always see a sunny green pitch with a round ball rolling over it even when things especially seemed bleak. I can’t speak for anyone else, I just know why I was able to see my way out.

The literary model in my brain wants to say that these young men are part of a culture of affluent waste. For the most part they are part of a world where there is too much to choose from, and therefore so much to be disappointed with. Too much to not have. Either a pretty girl, a flashy car, or whatever and when their efforts fail to deliver the life they seem entitled to, they want to burn it all down. A sort of Post-modern viking mentality. When Norway became very crowded in the 8th century and all the tribal chieftans started to unify under Harald of Norway. Life got very limited for young men in Norway. They began to build ships and branch out into bullying the rest of the North Atlantic into giving them (what I am sure they saw) as their due. And if they liked the looks of the place they might stick around, (Orkney, Dublin, Iceland, Greenland). Maybe we need to start some Outward Bound programs for young men where they build viking ships. I would totally sign up!

The Joy Division song that comes to mind, is Atmosphere. If there is a possibility of dialog with a young man in that dark place; this song speaks to it, eerily from the grave of Ian Curtis. Someone needed to open a door for them to let a little light in.

Sometimes I see these young men like giant pieces of fragile ice
stuck somewhere halfway between falling in the sea, and hanging on to Antarctica. The sun eventually just melts them down and they fall into the sea. If we are lucky they do not collide with us, if we are unlucky, they sink us all.


Walk in silence,
Dont walk away, in silence.
See the danger,
Always danger,
Endless talking,
Life rebuilding,
Dont walk away.

Walk in silence,
Dont turn away, in silence.
Your confusion,
My illusion,
Worn like a mask of self-hate,
Confronts and then dies.
Dont walk away.

People like you find it easy,
Naked to see,
Walking on air.
Hunting by the rivers,
Through the streets,
Every corner abandoned too soon,
Set down with due care.
Dont walk away in silence,
Dont walk away.

One Comment

  1. There is a version of Atmosphere on the Joy Division box set that has an extra verse that goes :

    “I’mI’m just crossing the line Just crossing the line Trying to get back Back where I was Back where I was See me crossing the line”

    The first time I heard it I was well out of my angst, but damn if it did not strike a serious cord. When I read this it made me think about that version of Atmosphere. Anyway, well put…