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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. September's Theme: "Release"
Volume 6 Issue 6 ISSN# 1708-3265

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Release… with moderation
by David Reber

As if to say
Sure it all matters
But in such an un-
Important way…

That moment was etched in crystal clarity in my memory forever. It was mid-way through finals week at the end of my freshman year. I was walking out of a Literature final with a fraternity brother and we discussed the essay portion of the test. Then, quite loudly the call of "Fore!!!" sounded across the circle followed by the unmistakable sound of a golf ball cleanly hit. The next bit though really got my attention.

Quite unexpectedly we heard the sound of the golf ball bouncing off the hood of a car out in the faculty parking followed by the crash of it going through a window. I knew my mouth fell open, just as my friend's did. Already the gazes of the people around us were pointed upward. Shielding my eyes, I looked that way myself.

Five stories up, on the peak of the gabled admin roof stood a student. Lying on the tiled building top next to him was a full bag of golf clubs, and he was currently bending over to set another ball in a tee he'd somehow wedged in. "Fore!!!" he called again and swung through. That ball took a rear view mirror off the side of a white Cadillac in the far back row.

"What the hell's he doing?" I asked.

"Getting some release!" my friend wryly returned.

We watched the drama unfold further, stood in the front row as the crowd gathered. We laughed along with everyone when a couple campus security guards tried to climb out to apprehend him. It was even funnier when the impromptu golfer kept them at bay by switching to his short game, chipping right at them. Eventually though the proper authorities were called and he was whisked away to a very happy place funded by the state.

Over that summer I kept in touch with many of my fraternity brothers, often visiting those that stayed on campus. Through them I was able to eventually get a total picture of what happened to our disgruntled golfer. Of course there was no surprise that he'd buckled under the pressure of finals. I even sympathized a bit. He got a room where staff cleaned it every day, his meals brought to him, any soothing hobby he wanted to try, and some incredible drugs.

The incident generated quite a bit of unfavourable press for the college and in one particular news article the professor who failed him was quoted as saying, "I was not aware he was under such stress and only recently have new factors come to my attention… In light of these new developments I am changing his failing grade to an incomplete. When he is better in control of things he is welcome to re-take the course." Interesting eh?

At the end of summer when school reconvened I caught up with my friend above and told him everything I'd learned. He merely replied, "Release is a good thing!" I shook my head at his bad joke although could not help but agree. Who would have thought hitting golf balls into traffic would earn such good things?

That concept went on to be a catch phrase with my friend and I for over the next twenty years. It started out as a message left on my dorm room phone that said, "I need some release." It turned into a regular thing to call and say that. Release back then could be anything from something to eat at the mall and then going through a stack of quarters at the arcade to a little self medication while waiting for a weekend order from an older fraternity brother. That little phrase went on after college also, even when we lived in separate towns a couple hours apart. One of us would give "the call," and then the other would travel.

Those weekends were indeed release too. Over the years we added on some members to the bi-city group and five or six of us would get together often. We each brought our own poison to add to the mix and often we gamed and swapped bigger than life stories. For awhile it was wonderful, we saved the world, rescued damsels in distress, leapt tall buildings in a single bound, etc, etc. It was so nice to close the doors and keep the stressful world beyond at bay with laughter and big ideas.

Over the years my friend started making the call more and more. It turned into every weekend, even some times during the week. His fixes became more of an obligation than occasional release. Sure, he had many demons in his past, we all did. Heck, that was pretty much why that particular group got together, to occasionally set aside the issues. But in the last couple years it became more and more evident he was floating between "releases" instead of actually dealing with those demons.

I watched the others in the group quit coming over as often until eventually they just faded away altogether. At the end it was just him and me. By then I was sticking it out because of loyalty alone. After all, a good portion of who I am today was because of my two decades with him. Even so, things continued to get more and more strained. Things finally came to the point where he was passed out in a haze of medicated glory within two hours after I arrived. It very quickly became clear it was not my friendship or company he craved so often, it was the chemical release. All our history, all the crazy crap we experienced together was worth naught.

About then I started coming up with excuses and outright lies as to things I had to do instead of visiting. He was a persistent bugger though and eventually it got to the point where I would not even answer, just let the machine pick up. Just like all the others I faded away from the unhealthy scene and my long time friend completely.

Then late one night I came home and my phone light was blinking. I played the message and was disappointed to hear his slurred voice barely able to say the words, "I need release." I remember just shaking my head and swallowing against the sudden knot in the pit of my stomach. That was the last time I ever heard from him. A couple days later he was dead. I found out through the grapevine he killed himself. Guess he got his ultimate release.

I learned a lot through all of this. I still occasionally vent off a bit of pressure, but not to any real excess. Once a week I take a bit of time for myself. Sometimes I do archery, sometimes tie flies. I still even try to put my hand to bad fantasy fiction. More often than not I play an online video game merely for its lack-of-thinking value. I like very much running through virtual streets, vanquishing virtual bad guys, and rescuing well-endowed virtual damsels. I find that killing virtually keeps me from killing in real life. Also, once a year I take a regular trip to Key West for a bit of catch and "release."

See? I learned to release a bit here and there so I never need to hit balls off tall buildings. On the other hand I've not retreated to the point where the only release is to end it all. In all things moderation I guess.

Hello, I'm David Reber. Currently I'm trying very hard to live a simple, uncomplicated life. I really enjoy tying flies or writing bad fiction in some quiet corner near where my beautiful wife is working on one of her hobbies. I also enjoy long walks with her when the weather is nice and we can take our two Siberian Husky puppies, Annie and Chloey with us - or when the huskies take us for a run would be the proper description. Then of course there is the time we spend trying to keep the refrigerator stocked ahead of "Big J", our active son and his tape worm.

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