A free man


Jittery. Jumpy. Twitchy and unable to settle.

There are moments in a life lived consciously, when awareness seeps in under the door and through the cracks around the window frame, and just before losing consciousness you know. Now. It's now. From here on out, all of my reference points and indicators and familiar protections will be altered or gone.

I am choosing - and I know it. I am choosing to stand before the masked faces of my inner jury and make an argument. The changes we have in our lives - the big ones, I mean - they make us Number Six, taken to The Village, held captive there, and finally making our arguments to our own masked faces.

With a few exceptions, each episode begins with a repetition of some of the opening sequences from the first episode--McGoohan resigns; his file is dropped by a mechanical device into a filing cabinet labeled "Resigned"; he is gassed; he wakes in "The Village" and confronts (the new) Number Two. This beginning is followed by a set piece of dialogue:

Prisoner: Where am I?
Number Two: In The Village.
Prisoner: What do you want?
Number Two: Information.
Prisoner: Which side are you on?
Number Two: That would be telling. We want information, information, information...
Prisoner: You won't get it.
Number Two: By hook or by crook we will.

Prisoner: Who are you?
Number Two: The new Number Two.
Prisoner: Who is Number One?
Number Two: You are Number Six.
Prisoner: I am not a number. I am a free man.

Number Two: Ha, ha, ha, ha....

With few exceptions, this sense of knowing has preceded a profound and seismic change in my life. Although (I may at last have learned) "it" will all be the same when I return to my life at the end of the show, I will not be the same. I will have been a Prisoner in the Village, silenced at every turn, unable to make an argument or bring awareness - or find it.

The difference this time is that I have hopped onto the the helicopter of my own volition. I choose this change.

I choose this change - I choose this course in narratives born of pain - I choose this awareness. I choose to be the living clay on which the Literature of Resistance may be written, and I choose it for all of the Prisoners who have been silenced. I choose it for the silencing of gas chambers and columns of smoke, and I choose it for machete amputees and fearful children.

And I choose this next stay in The Village for the smallest darkling spot of confusion in the mind and soul of anyone I might ever stand before as a teacher. I do not compare our privileged lives and times to the unmaking of the Holocaust - the erasure of voices and unreality of a nightmare made corporeal and then snuffed out so easily. But I see that the planting of one healthy tree is an answer to the fire of mountain ranges, and I choose to plant the trees.

I'm afraid.

I've been here before. I've been drugged and captured and taken to The Village when I did not want to be and no one warned me and the panic of it nearly unhinged my mind and stopped my body.

But this is different. I know the white balloon is here, and I know it will not let me leave until it's time to make an answer to the masks in the gallery. But this time, I choose it.

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