Thomas Wictor

Why won’t I just shut up?

Why won’t I just shut up?

I’ve gotten a few messages from people saying they disagree with what I write about life after death, the entity I call the Planner, reincarnation, etc. Some people think I’m completely deranged. They want me to just shut up.

That’s okay. However, a clarification: I’m not like this woman. Only once in my life have I heard a voice, and it was during a moment of extreme stress. You can read about it on page 282 of Ghosts and Ballyhoo.

That voice could easily have been a hallucination. But if it was real, it spoke to me about my own situation. It didn’t say, “Here is a message. You must go and broadcast it in the stupidest, most mortifying, and ineffective way possible.”

Notice the substance of that woman’s so-called message: “He will not be mocked.” If God exists, do you honestly think He cares about being mocked? My life in many ways has been a catastrophe, but I encourage you to mock me as much as you want.

When my poor father was deposited in the hospice—his final way station—two of the nurses did their best Bugs Bunny imitation as they removed his clothes and arranged him on the bed. One of them said, “Oh, you’re a six-footer! The ladies here will go wild over you!”

To which my father uttered the last coherent sentence I heard from him in his life: “I highly doubt it.”

The entire surreal scene reminded me of a haiku by the Japanese poet Yamazaki Sōkan (1465–1553):

Even at the time
When my father lay dying
I still kept farting

In the final two years of his life, Dad took to announcing that he’d just broken wind. I don’t know why. When I lived in Tyler, Texas, one of my seventh and eighth grade classmates was an Italian kid who’d shout, “Attention!” and then loudly fart. Another kid named Philip with One L could fart on command—colossal expulsions of gas that lasted five seconds and were as loud as a motorcycle. Between Philip and the Italian kid, someone was always letting one rip.

These were the sorts of thoughts cartwheeling through my head as I watched my parents die. You may think I’m astonishingly disrespectful and callous. That’s your right.

The point is, if a total failure like me, my dying father, and my dying mother could all mock ourselves, do you honestly think the creator of the universe has no sense of humor?

My posts aren’t intended to convert you or send a message. Sometimes I speak in declaratives, such as, “The Planner is benign and loves you.” That’s just my opinion. It’s only what I think. Maybe the Planner is a rotten, petty bastard who’s going to boil us in oil for eternity if we don’t kiss his bum.

I highly doubt it.

What I do want is for people in pain to be in less pain. If my posts help you feel less pain, then I admit to “sending a message.” But it’s a message that came from my own head. The Planner hasn’t spoken to me. I have no idea if this was real or not, though I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t have been. My view is that the Planner doesn’t interfere, but he gives signs that are intended to comfort, to strengthen, to alleviate fear, and to let us know that we’re loved.

Today I was in the Seven-Eleven, and the scariest-looking watch-capped thug I’ve even seen stomped in and shouted, “Butta! Where da butta?

The clerk—a Pakistani man with whom I have longish conversations almost daily—told the thug where the butter was, and he went and got a stick. When he came back to the counter where I stood, he looked absolutely miserable. Angry, lost, and extremely dangerous. I noticed a photo-realistic tattoo of a young woman’s face on the inside of his forearm; since I’m now fearless, I said, “That’s a beautiful tattoo on your forearm.”

The thug looked at me suspiciously for a second and then said, “You think so?”

“Absolutely!” I said. “It’s gorgeous.”

He held out both arms in a “Handcuff me!” pose to show that he had two tattoos, two different faces of young women, both midway between wrist and elbow.

“They’re my daughters,” he said.

“Wow! What a great thing to do!” I said. “Good for you! They’re beautiful!” And they were beautiful. They were teenagers who seemed to be stifling happy laughter so that the photos would be a little more dignified.

I could almost hear creaking and cracking as certain muscles of the thug’s face got their first use in maybe decades. He gave me a wide but poignantly shy smile.

“Thank you,” he said softly.

“You’re welcome. You have a good day, now,” I said.

“You too.”

When he came in the store, he was using the gangster roll, the hunched don’t-fuck-with-me gait that criminals have adopted. As he walked out, he stood tall and straight. I hope I helped him.

He was open to compliments. I didn’t ask him to show me his tattoos; he volunteered. What I write here is for people who want to read it. I’m not trying to do anything except entertain and occasionally help those who are in the same boat as me and who want to be helped. It’s my choice. I’m not on a mission. Nobody talks to me in the middle of the night. And I certainly don’t have the arrogance to think I’m anything except a guy who writes.

So mock me and laugh at my posts. It’s fine. I’ll live.

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