When I was very young I thought I went on forever. Bumping my head on the crib seemed no different than sticking my finger in my eye; it was all me. The same part of me that offered a breast to suck later shoveled spoonfuls of prechewed food into my sucker. Having learned where my sucker was I became very adept at tasting every part of me I could manage to bring to it.
It was long about then that I became aware of a mischievous part of me that would make various other parts angry with me. I became very uncomfortable because I didn’t know how to make all of me feel good again. The more I seemed to disturb those parts the more they seemed to withdraw from me and I came to see that the misbehaver and those he ruffled were not really me. He became my naughty companion, Drill, and the parts he annoyed turned out to be my parents. The only reason I even recall having what they called my imaginary friend is my parents recalling my bringing him home to share it when I was called to lunch.
Drill was my favorite playmate for adventures in the deep ravine behind our house and might have continued to be if he hadn’t talked me into eating that strange smelling skunk cabbage we found one spring. My stern grandfather who always wore a vest was visiting when I came in with some leaves for everyone to enjoy. He made me drink several glasses of soapy water to make me expel that evil poison and when I puked he said it was the cure working. The combination of the traumatic physical sensation of transiting from groovy found flavor to soapy induced vomit and the mental confusion of such skewed logic from such an authority figure made Drill disappear forever. He didn’t go far, just out of sight.
His cantankerous mischief would show up whenever I began to wonder why the big people like my parents always got their way whether I liked it or not. Like talking me into eating poison, Drill would make me stomp my feet, slam doors, throw things and find a place to hide to get away from such tyranny. Instead of such behavior helping me feel good again it always brought the wrath of the big people down on me all the more. Just like my breath after eating skunk cabbage had offended them they said my bad behavior was due to my “unruly instinks”, so I figured we all knew it must have been Drill making me do it.
For many years Drill hounded me from behind the scenes whenever I would bump into authority imposing corrections to or limits on whatever I happened to be doing. School seemed like a gauntlet determined to rid me of Drill’s disruptive influence with discipline so counterproductive it only got his back up to the degree that I dropped out of high school with several hundred detention hours remaining to be served. Determined to shake my nemesis and become a good boy who could pass any test authority could put me to, I volunteered for membership in the institution I was convinced offered the most effective discipline available in the process of making one a real man.
Four years later, when my enlistment was up and he felt it was safe to come out of hiding, Drill’s persnickety ways prevented my remaining by dangling an opportunity to go to college where people got their own authority to run things. Somewhere during the course of my courses in college and promotions in the lucrative job it landed me I began to understand that Drill was far from being my antagonistic nemesis; he is the instinctual being I had been taught all my life was a nature to be dominated; he is the me as I was born and cannot help but be.
The person Drill hounded throughout his life was the person culture convinced must obediently seek its approval to be valid; the person for whom instincts were counterproductive to the purpose of becoming civilized. My experience of attempting to create and maintain that exemplary personality at the expense of the rich council of my genetic memory has stood me well in recovering my early intuition that my connection to the world goes on forever.
Now feral, it is culture by which I feel hounded, but only when I let it in through the doggy door of the intertubes.