“The beast in me/Is caged by frail and fragile bonds/Restless by day/And by night, rants and rages at the stars/God help, the beast in me/The beast in me/Has had to learn to live with pain/And how to shelter from the rain/And in the twinkling of an eye/Might have to be restrained/God help the beast in me”
The Best in Me – Nick Lowe
Ever looked at a still body of water and pondered what’s beneath? On the surface, nothing moving, a tranquil scene, but underneath, life in all it’s bestial glory. Creatures being birthed, creatures being eaten, the cycle of life moving onwards. What an odd positioning when you think about it, the difference between what lies above and what lies beneath.
Just like us. What appears on the surface, what we present to the world, is often times at odds with our innermost thoughts. On the surface we may appear the kind gentle person that would help nearly anyone at a moments notice but beneath is the inner, contemptuous rage that drives some to murder and other atrocities.
I’ve often wondered about those who find themselves having to channel both instincts at once, take the Soldier on the field of battle. One moment they’re killing they’re enemy only to stop and render aid to the wounded the next moment. Or the cop, who after engaging in a hours-long standoff must find it within themselves the capacity to extend compassion to the someone who just tried to kill them. It’s almost like the werewolf of legend — a man one moment, a beast the next.
With every unleashing of the beast, is it more difficult to bring forth your other side? Is this a slippery slope that with each passing moment we descend deeper and deeper into the abyss? And what do we become once we can no longer put the beast away … that’s rhetorical.
Duality is a strange thing — there can be no night without day, no good without evil. But does there come a point where the yin slips past the yang never to be seen again? I don’t think I could stand living in a world of perpetual night.
I had some limited experience with extremes of daylight while growing up in Alaska. The extremes of that location brought out the worst in some people. Most folks up north explain it away as cabin fever, the loosing of one’s mind due to being cooped up inside, the constant darkness crushing the spirit.
So as we walk this constant line between the person we are or the beast we may become, how do you keep yourself in line? What pulls you back from the edge when you’re ready to dive head first off the cliff? I’ve struggled with this lately as circumstances and events work to push me closer each day and each day it feels harder and harder to pull back. I find that typically a good long run or some time on a heavy bag suffices to release the pent up steam. And while I’ve pulled myself back every time, I wonder if a day will ever come that I won’t be able to come back from.
The fear of that possibly pending day holds me in check as well. But fear is something to conquer, to overcome. What happens when the fear no longer matters? What do you do?