Inner Fire (Thread 4 of Metal Manifesto)

One metal cliché I find hard to subvert is

In what capacity do the blue-collar jobless and I, a rich suburban college kid, find emotional common ground? If metal is the realm of the frustrated, angry, working class — then what the hell am I doing there? There’s a reason no-one in my hometown, high-school or college shares my taste in music; there must be.

It was 4th grade.
I was fast. Real fast. The fastest in the school. We played touch football every day at recess, and I’d run for the hail mary, churning past the helpless defense. this was before puberty passed me by and took everyone else with it, leaving me small and athletically irrelevant.

i had a classic crush on a girl in my class named Claire.

My ADD was still not quite under control; the social pressures mounted as I unwittingly alienated myself from peers with exuberant abandon. It wasn’t active, aggressive animosity; just a general distancing and idle, abrasive needling, teasing.

The boys I played football with had figured out my little secret and so, naturally, they felt it appropriate to use this information for their own enjoyment.

We were walking out to the football field one afternoon; the teasing barter continued to fly. I’d long since realized the futility of defending myself, so I tried with equal futility to ignore. But I am my father’s son, and my mother’s father’s grandson; our blood boils hot and boils fast.

Time blurred; I see myself struggling with forces I do not, can not, will never comprehend. I turn and face the one who’d started the joke, he’d just launched a flippant jibe into my flank, took it a bit farther than the rest. He was down, on the ground. Both of us were reeling, my world had distilled into an edged clarity and a breeze cooled my neck. One punch to the gut, as I watched, a spectator to my own actions.

I helped him up, both of us in equal disbelief. Maybe I apologized. Maybe I told him ruefully that _you did ask for it, didn’t you_. Then the principal concerned strolled over, he was outside that day, and asked my _pal_ if he was alright, he said _yes, he’d just fallen down_. Face was saved.


It’s little coincidence that I made the transition from dabbling in distorted guitars to immersion in mainstream hard-rock, and eventually, to full-blown heavy metal during middle school. Middle school was a stinking sulfurous hell on earth. A bastion of privilege, entitlement and pestilent wealth. And now I was small; I’d gone from 75 percentile to 25 percentile in both height and weight, and into a world where it mattered more than ever.

By 8th grade, I found myself with one real friend, and more than one enemy whose favorite pastime was to remind me of just how many friends I didn’t have. They were bigger than me, so no quick punch to the gut was going to solve anything.

I discovered heavy metal.

From punk (Offspring) and grunge (Nirvana) to hybrid nü-metal (Sevendust) and gothic industrial (Marilyn Manson), my music darkened with each passing year.

Then along came METAL. I felt an affinity to it all, from the grim solemnity of growling death metal, to the epic and fantastic bombast of its more cheerful cousin, Power Metal.

The quest for inner peace through metal was in gear.

When people reach college, or college age, it seems their perspective reaches a critical openness. The introspection becomes transcendental. I would never feel right saying _I needed more_, but I certainly wondered _is this it_?

Metal is a quick fix, not a sustainable, holistic process or way of life.

I discovered Buddhism; the un-religion; the anti-ism. I saw in it the intense introspection and honesty that I’d been forced to learn through years of social self-discipline, trying to learn the unwritten rules of society for which my brian found itself less than ideally suited. Yet there was also a belief in the ultimate power of human compassion to counteract our toxic egos and thought-demons. I felt a fit with my not un-ironic mix of cynical optimism.

_But now I am a metalhead_. Metal is not therapy, it is part of who I am.

I’d be lying if I said I don’t enjoy the look on people’s faces when I announce that I listen to death metal, _wait, what? But… you’re not…_ ___head explodes___ n this new context difference is gold, _who wants to wear a generic label, fit the mold?_

How many hippie buddhist metalheads do ___you___ know?

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