"On the shelf" I replied when I was asked yet again that cliche question, "How are you doing"?

I'm sure that's not the answer my interrogator had in mind but what purpose would have been served other than for them to suggest that I should see a doctor if I would have confessed that I was so tired that I was barely able to get out of bed in the morning? Or that once I did manage to get up my spirit felt sluggish and numb and that, as soon as I could, I laid down again and closed my eyes, and existed in a kind of sightless, thoughtless limbo until it was impossible to do so any longer. Impossible not due to any lack of desire on my part but because someone always managed to find a reason to call and inevitably, eventually, ask me the same question- "How are you doing"?

Over the years I've run through all the usual answers and now I'm beginning on the unusual ones. When those have all finally been tossed down like desperate cards in a losing game I will be forced to surrender the final card- that I still expect a spaceship to swoop down and scoop me up and that I am always prepared.

People say that death is like sleep except that you don't wake up. People say that the things that nobody but connoisseurs of the terminally strange would eat taste like chicken. People say almost anything to keep from having other people think they don't know.

Words are only symbols.

Reality is a word.

Most people have expectations about reality. Mostly they expect it to be consistant. Night should follow day and day follow night ad nauseam.

On the other hand, let's compare two distinct versions of reality:

A shelf is where a child's toy, or a book, or folded laundry, or a gun is placed.

A ledge is: mountains and death defying heights and jagged rocks waiting down below. It's a place for goats with narrow hooves that pin them to the rocks and eagles that leave no tracks. It is where you use the gun you take from the shelf.

It is easier, at this point in my life, to say that I am on a shelf than if I was to say that I was on a ledge. I've lived on ledges for most of my life. Although it is tempting to live in the past, to do so would give the impression that I was more daring than I am. In truth I'm not daring at all. Not any more. Those days are over. I would no sooner go out on a limb for some kitty cat of my imagination than I would wish to relive most of the other crazed schemes that my desolate dreams provided. Like I said, those days are gone. Even super heros put their costumes on one foot at a time and the leg that I stood on back when I was flexible enough to get into a costume now can barely bend at the knee.

Robert King