George was a watcher. It hadn’t always been this way – at one stage he was an observer, sharp, astute, honed to perceive, he never missed a cue.
But for now he was a watcher, standing on the corner, his peripheral vision seeing everything, but judging nothing. From his allocated position he could see the traffic – the vehicles, the townspeople, the children (the real people), the birds, and even the clouds – as it passed him by. A bit like life, really, constantly passing him by.
He had been something once - or so they thought. He had climbed his way through life, got to the very top, and found himself alone, as if, when you get to the highest places there is nobody home.
They thought he was a hero, motivated to persevere, to achieve, to go it alone and succeed, against all odds. And it was the odds that really put him there in the first place.
They had joined in and celebrated his achievements, but only after he had paid the price. Nobody was there to give him a hand up when he needed it most, to take the slack and share the load, or catch him when he fell.
Ironically it was those ‘odds’ that kicked him off, got him going. Yes we are all born different – but some more different than others and the taunting quickly grew to be more than he could handle. Some buckle under the pressure of teasing and ridicule, and others become more resilient, eventually finding their style, their pathway through life.
Now, standing on the corner, watching, he had all the time in the world to contemplate, to re-view.
People seldom even noticed him standing there anymore, it had been so long, he had almost become part of the scenery. So he had the chance now to stand, silent, still, and just watch.
What did he think? Did he think? Those were the questions he had never been able to answer. Even as a child “think” meant nothing to him. What it might mean had always eluded him.
Class teachers at school had berated him. “What do you think boy? Do you think boy? Aren’t you a little odd boy?” – and from this came the names and the taunting of the other children “Hey Odds! Do you think Odds?”
He was fully aware that had he hardened up at the time he would never be standing here now, stony-faced, unmoving. Yes, he knew he was different, mainly because he wasn’t the same, because he couldn’t BE the same – but that was as far as he could go. He wasn’t like the other kids, and didn’t want to be like the other kids, but what the difference was, was beyond his understanding.
Early in his years he found himself driven by their teasing – driven into the loneliness, the peacefulness of the bush. Here ‘alone’ was different from ‘lonely’. Here he wasn’t different, he just ‘was’ and the acceptance of the bush allowed him to accept himself.
In the bush he had found the hills, and in the hills he had found the mountains. And in the mountains he found elevation, and in the elevation he found perspective.
For too long he had been looked down on, and felt beaten up. Where the rigors of school-work and the drudgery of home-work had taken the life out of living, the altitude of the mountains, the clear, thin air, allowed him to breathe and to be.
Finally alone, he could go beyond, he could push back the barriers, he could conquer mountains.
And when he slipped and fell they never saw that it was them that had driven him to it. In the safety of his sudden death they turned him into a hero. They had driven him into the mountains, then carved him from that same stone. They said he loved to be there, he lived for the mountains, that they were his challenge. They never understood just how steep a sanctuary can be.
First he was their scape-goat, now their hero, ‘local boy made good’. Locked into this marble statue, forever watching, he had conquered the mountains, but never his dys-lexia.
(Dedicated to all Dys-lexics and Diesels – whatever their outcome.)