Saturday, June 21, 2014

Hospital Scribbles #1: The Teddy Grahams Analogy

I'm in the process of taking the things I wrote during past psych hospital stays and typing them out before they become unreadable or ruined in the original medium. Every so often, I will transcribe them here (edited for clarity). This is the first essay of that series, which I've lovingly titled Hospital Scribbles, because when I write in the hospital (incidentally when I write the most; psych units are a hotbed of inactivity), I tend to edit less and "scribble" more and interesting stuff comes out. Reading back on them, I usually think, "What the hell?" followed by "Wow, that makes a little sense" followed by "Seriously, what the HELL? I must have been really bored..."

Consider the following entry (and enjoy!)...

Ever looked at a box of Teddy Grahams?
The chocolate ones are like CANDY when you're on a unit with no canteen run. Desperate times, man...
There's a happy, smiling bear on the front. He's meant to sell you the product. He is the first thing we see and it's deliberate: if we buy and eat this product, we will look and feel like that bear. 
Pictured: DECEPTION.
Most don't even notice he's holding the actual product in his perfect outstretched paw. 

PLOT TWIST - reality!
"This is what you're really getting when you buy's still pretty good and you might like it, but it's not the guaranteed pleasure I promise," he laughs, holding out the offering. 

But even the Grahams themselves are permitted to frolic among the Photoshop paradise, as they have also been airbrushed until they were decent enough for the cover.
"I'm finally fake enough for the real world! I'VE MADE IT!"
But you bought into it. We all did. We bought the damned "graham snacks". 

I mean...frolicking through a grassy field with a crop top and no pants? Who doesn't want THAT life?!
And what we found inside didn't matter. We gobbled them mindlessly, sometimes 2 or 3 at a time without looking or noticing what we were doing.

But one day, you weren't so ravenous, or you were sick of the taste, or whatever...something made you pause when you opened the box again. And you looked before you consumed. REALLY looked. And you found that what you thought you were consuming - which was the product depicted on the box - was indeed a complete and total fantasy. Some Teddy Grahams (save for a few crumbs) looked just like they should. That was comforting: the same product inside and out. Some of them weren't quite as whole as the others, but still mostly resembled what they should. Most had barely survived their journey to you intact. Some were unrecognizable....they were there in front of you, labeled as Teddy Grahams, so you gobbled those suckers without a thought. And tossed the box, empty and worn, in the trash. It served its purpose. Time to start anew. You'll be hungry again soon.

Clearly, you're thinking, "OK, I'm the mindless consumer, I get it." Yes, you are. Everyone is. Everyone has used a relationship for their own selfish needs, only to discard it when it no longer served them. But everyone is the bear on the box, everyone is the Photoshopped Teddy Graham, and everyone is - in some form - a Teddy Graham from the box.

Being in various hospitals over several years and hearing so many stories, I've come to notice that everyone projects their best self to get through life...and love. But if people look closely enough, you can see the true self poking through the charade they try so desperately to hide behind. Usually, people are ashamed of that, not resembling that illusion more. It's explained away with "well, everyone has problems" or "no one's perfect!" defensively; not because you saw the true self (the actual product depicted on the box), but because you might see their core (the actual product inside the box). But we're so selfish as humans that we don't care; we emotionally suck each other dry, or use each other to serve our sexual, mental, psychological, or financial needs. And it's not until we are satisfied that we start paying attention. And while some are happy with the box the picked, or rarer still, just got lucky, the majority of us decide that maybe if we had known of the contents beforehand, we would have chosen differently.

Stop it. If they were defective in any way, they wouldn't have been in your damn box of Teddy Grahams to begin with.

We're all defective.
We're all liars.
We're all hypocritically judgmental.
We're all consumers.
We're all Teddy Grahams.
We're all people.

(originally written May 26, 2014)


  • What do you think contributes most to people hiding who they really are?
  • What's YOUR favorite Teddy Grahams flavor?
  • Any other comments or thoughts?

No comments:

Post a Comment