This is an ugly story, though personally I think it is rather beautiful…
Greetings. I’m an asshole (spelled arse-hole in England).
I’m not speaking figuratively. I’m speaking literally.
How am I managing to talk to you? Out of my ass? Certainly not. There is no ass for me to talk out of – just the hole. A not very large, little black hole.
You see, it is all that is left of me. Not a hint of ass left. Not one single, curly, twirly, stinky hair.
And to tell you the truth, I’ve no idea how I am managing to talk to you, given that all you have here before you is the dark, circular hole of an ass.
Here’s what happened…
I used to be six-two. I used to stand tall and stooped. And I had a dog, a big brute of a thing, whose name was Potential. Sometimes he seemed larger, sometimes smaller. Sometimes I felt he might just never stop growing; sometimes he seemed to be one fixed size. SIze of an atom, size of a universe.
And I kept him on a leash. He’d shown up when I was a toddler, and I’d just copied my ma and pa (mum and dad in England) and watched how they kept their beasts on leashes too. So did most of my school friends. Only one or two kids didn’t. They let theirs run free. We were told THEY were WEIRD.
Anyway. As I grew older, Potential seemed to grow wilder, straining at my leash to break free or pull me with him (or maybe her, I never really could tell). Wherever I wanted to go, I often got pulled in the opposite direction, by an impatiently tugging leash following wherever Potential seemed to want to go. Often he’d be sniffing the asses of other people’s leashed beasts. Often I just sat still on the ground, refusing to budge anywhere at all.
As the years went by, I strengthened my leash to try to stay in charge. I got smart with my leash and learned how a quick tug would choke my Potential into stillness. Sometimes Potential would turn towards me and look like he wanted to attack me – but he never did. he never pushed. He only pulled.
One day I met a woman who was directing traffic on Main Street. She blew a red whistle at the cars and the trucks as if she were the happiest soul on earth. “Where’s your leash?” I asked her. “And where’s your beast?”
“Who needs a leash? Who needs a beast” she shouted and blew her whistle at a passing Greyhound Bus.
As I got to the other side of the street she shouted. “Whatever you do, kid, don’t ever unleash your Potential!”
There was something in the way she blew that whistle, something deep in her eyes that made me pay heed to those words; right up until I was thirty-two years old.
And then I met a guy in a queue for tickets to a rock concert in a big stadium on the edge of the city. We got talking. He told me he was a personal life coach. He asked: “Who is that on the end of your leash?”
Potential suddenly pulled me away before I could answer. I had to use all my might to get back into the queue. Out of breath I said: “He’s called potential and he seems scared of you, sir”.
“Why have you got him on a leash?” the man asked.
“Isn’t it what everyone does?” I replied.
“Not me!” he boasted. “I grew up without leashes. And look how I turned out. I’m here for this rock concert for pure fun. If I wanted to, I could buy the band and stadium three times over!” And he smiled at me with teeth whiter than snow.
“So, what are you saying I should do?” I asked him as my leash began to strain.
He took a deep peppermint breath and blew these words into my eyes: “UNLEASH IT, YOU ASS HOLE! UNLEASH YOUR POTENTIAL!”
And then the queue began to move. Just before he disappeared into the executive box he called “BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!”
I didn’t even go in.
I turned around and started to walk towards the park. Potential sensed something was up and tried to drag me away towards the diner. But I held tight, using all of my strength until we reached the hill mound where lovers kiss under the stars and the full moon.
Potential was howling as if to say: “Don’t do it”. It was as if he knew.
I turned to Potential and, suddenly, quickly, I did it. There and then. I unleashed my Potential. Just like that.
The leash slipped out of my hands easily, and then seemed to twang and shatter.
I felt a huge rush of release inside my bones, and an enormous feeling of letting go.
It was THAT EASY. I guess it always had been.
All was bliss for a second and a quarter.
And that’s when my Potential growled, then roared, then howled in either pain or delight. In that moment, I wasn’t sure.
Then it turned on me.
It bounded towards me and I had not a breath nor a second’s opportunity to get out of the way.
My Potential sank its teeth into my self and began to ravage me.
It took my feet first and then my legs. I heard my femur crunch. First one, then the other, followed by snapping thighs. My arms soon followed and then my torso. My manhood went quickly after and finally my head, in one single gulp and three shattering, skull-cracking crunches, my brain swallowed hole, like a big toffee. Blood drained out of me and then even life energy. Within moments my Potential had devoured every part of me.
Except for my ass.
My Potential licked its bloodied lips and then even ate that.
All that, all that was left was my ass hole.
And somehow that’s where I still am. An ass hole who unleashed his Potential.
I can still remember a few things. I can remember this story, which repeats itself over and over again.
Oh, and a few snippets of conversation…
My crazy grandpa Eric who, in his strange half-Swedish accent used to say: “Never put your hopes on a rope, boy.”
And the man in the Happiness book who advised: “Never store your dreams in a jam jar.”
So, now I’m realising: I should never have put my Potential on a leash in the first place. And I should certainly have never unleashed it.
My Potential needed to run free. It needed to go where it wanted and I needed to follow it, free of ties, full of messy uncertainty. Me and my potential are wild in beautifully different ways, and we never needed taming, nor training, controlling, nor releasing. My potential will turn when it needs to and I should follow it when I can.
We could have danced or played tag, sat still for seasons, or climbed to wherever.
Instead, I’m just a hole without even an ass. And somewhere, there’s a crap-stupid leash lying on the ground.