I arrived early at my miserable office when my iPhone rang. Who the hell could be calling me this early? This is what I thought. I was in a bad mood. I am always in a bad mood early in the morning, especially before work. Normally I do not like it when people call me. I feel like they are invading my private space. I am offended. But when someone calls me in the morning my offense is drastically multiplied.
Rather than just ignoring the ringing iPhone (which, in retrospect would have been the right thing to do but everything is the right thing to do in retrospect) I pulled it from my cluttered pocket and checked. It took me several seconds to make sense of what I saw. 510-604-6201. That is my phone number right? Isn’t 510-604-6201 my phone number? How the hell could this be? How could I be calling myself? This doesn’t make sense. I exist in a state of complete confusion but in that moment, my confusion turned into complete perplexion.
I answered the call (which, I never do by the way).
“Hello?” I said it very apprehensively.
“Yes…….” I said this very apprehensively as well.
“Randall. This is Randall. I need to talk with you about something.”
“Excuse me?” It sounded like me. It was my same old slow and miserable voice coming through the phone but I could not make sense of what was actually happening.
“I know this might seem a bit odd to you, but please do not be alarmed. This is yourself, Randall. I am calling you.”
“You are me calling me?”
“Yes, this is you. Or it is me but I am you and I just needed to speak with you for a moment.”
“Ok. This is very strange. How could I be calling myself? I am right here now, so where are you?” I said this even more apprehensively than I said everything before.
“Look, let’s skip all the practicalities. They don’t matter. Please stop trying to figure things out. I am you Randall, this is Randall calling Randall and I just need to speak with you about a few things before you begin work. Is this ok?”
The voice on the iPhone was me. There was no question about this. I could even hear how the voice, or I, annunciated slow and mumbled vowels, which is exactly what I do. In a state of complete perplexion and disarray, I decided to give in and stop questioning.
“Ok. What is it?” I said this apprehensively.
“Well, look man, I know you have your first client coming in shortly and have a long day filled with clients in front of you. I know that you have been struggling the past couple of weeks and I just wanted to reach out to you.”
“Reach out to me about what?”
“I just wanted to let you know that things are going to be ok. You don’t need to stress out so much about everything. I know you have been having a difficult time not stressing out about every little thing. You are unhappy in your mind. Almost every little thought triggers a negative stress response in your body. I know you are overwhelmed by your work. I know that it is very draining for you and takes up too much space in your mental apparatus………
(This is when I was certain it was me talking to me on the phone because only I would say something like mental apparatus in the middle of a banal, self-help sentence.)
……but you have got to stop stressing over so many things.”
“How do you suggest I do this Randall?” Now I was starting to play with myself.
“Well as long as your question is genuine and you are not playing with me, I will tell you. I know that your job is tormenting. It fills you with exhaustion and negativity. I get it. But welcome to the real world man. You are not a kid, where everything must feel good all the time or else you are pissed. You are an adult now. Also, you must keep in mind that this will not last forever. You will get out of this at some point. Now you feel stuck and obligated. I understand. But please trust me that there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is not the light coming from an oncoming train as you often think.”
“OK, I appreciate all of this Randall, but what is your point?” Now I was feeling frustrated. I don’t like it when people tell me what to do, especially myself and especially in the early morning. I was on the edge of telling myself to go to hell but I refrained.
I needed more coffee.
“I just wanted to tell you to go easy man. I know you are unhappy. Your work week is almost over. Just try to keep it together and don’t fall apart. Do some meditation. Take time to listen to music. Stop feeling like you need to write and spending your precious free time writing and posting things on your blog that don’t get you anywhere. Just knock that off. Don’t worry about writing your novel or being creative. This is just your ego driving you nuts. You just need to relax. You need to do things that you enjoy during your free time. And you and I both know that writing is hard work for you. It is not necessarily something you enjoy.”
“Ok.” I was ready to get off the phone. Myself was pissing me off.
“Look, there are alternative ways of organizing experience and interpreting information. Drugs are often one way. Meditation is another way. Beer is one impermanent way. Just staying present and not identifying with your ego is a long term way. I just think that it is important for your mental health that you seek out healthier, alternative ways, daily, or else you are going to be a miserable man.”
“I am a miserable man fucker! Why are you telling me all of this right now? I have eight clients to day. I have to sit and attentively listen to eight people talk about their problems for an hour each. You try that out sometimes. You try and find alternative ways of interpreting information when all your mental energy is being drained right out of you only because you have to make money. I really don’t need this alternative bullshit right now. Just leave me alone. Let me get through my day however I need to. I don’t know who the fuck you think you are but stop telling me how you think I should live my life!” I was pissed, probably much more than I needed to be, and hoped that my client who was waiting for me in the waiting room could not hear any of this.
“Look I am sorry man. I just thought I would give you a call and try and help you out.”
“Well, thanks Randall. I appreciate your generous act of goodwill but you can shove it up your ass. I am tired of you telling me what to do. Always telling me what you think I should do while you get to just hang out in my ego all day long. And now you call me on the phone to tell me? Fuck this. I have had enough. I am hanging up now. Good bye Randall.”
I turned my iPhone off, put it back in my cluttered pocket and took a deep breath. I think I said the word fuck a few more times and tried not to think about the long day in front of me. Then I pulled up my zipper (which, I just noticed was down), forced a smile upon my permanently frowning face and went to get my first client.