The legend of Nils

Where to start…? Well, there was and maybe still is a strange guy called Nils. He had the eyes of a baby so pure, mixed with the vibe of a different branch of humans or another species entirely. Some days he seemed like a normal young man with a childlike personality. Quit clear he seemed on rare occasions. We knew him mostly as the guy who hears voices and sees ghosts. Sometimes he seemed to communicate with them, like signaling them to go, or to leave him alone. He was our neighbor who sometimes came for coffee or to smoke a joint. A few nights he came to visit me to share his coca cola, cerveca (beer) and to smoke together. I felt really good with him when he was not completely lost. Even then I was there for him. Maybe I helped him, who knows. Spending time with him in my garden outside the cave at night was very special, even mystical at times.

I was glad he felt so welcome. It was a truly magical place with really good people living all around. He felt this, and expressed his gratitude and appreciation. At least, a few of us felt that way. The opinions varied on the matter, but somehow we all accepted and welcomed him.

One afternoon I clearly remember. This time he seemed rather disturbed. It was a hot summer day when we sat in the garden of a few of our neighbors who lived in a beautiful cave-house. I think we were with about a handful people. Not the usual mix in our world at the time, but cool people. One friend rolled a joint. In the meantime we were just chilling and chatting. I remember this scene in great detail. My friend passed the joint to Nils, right after he lit it up and took a few tokes. Nils seemed to be in two worlds. Half here, and half somewhere else entirely. He seemed to be hissing towards invincible alien entities floating in the air above him. Hissing, almost growling at them. While he was in the middle of his cosmic journey he smoked some more. And some more…Nobody said a word. From this moment onwards, we were silently observing Nils. Slowly, but surely he smoked the whole joint. We looked at each other with a look that said: Is this really happening right now? He smoked the whole joint by himself, without realizing there were others too.

Somehow we all decided to take one for the team, or do I misunderstand something? Anyhow, it just was what it was. We didn’t make a big deal out of it.

That was another side of Nils.

One day I had the idea to turn him into a kind of myth or legend. I told people maybe he is not a real person. Maybe he is a projection of our crazy hippie subconscious. A kind of mini collective projection of an archetype. Me, and a few others started to imitate Nils. It was really hilarious. Maybe it helped me to cope with whatever I was confronted with. All I know is that I started to master my impression of Nils, to the point that I saw him in my mind, and visualized him in front of me, doing what he would normally do. Imitating him was so much fun that I made myself cry from laughter. People were not always amused, but I guess like how we accepted Nils, they accepted my far out and often bad jokes. Good impression or not.

Anyway. People started to believe in Nils in many different ways. We started to form opinions, imagine his past and even tried to shape his future. So maybe we really projected him onto our living environment. ‘We shouldn’t talk about what’s going to happen with Nils. I feel bad about it.’ I don’t remember who first said that, but it somehow stuck with me. It made me wonder. What is he to me? How do I see him? Why do I see him like this?

Soon I realized I didn’t know much about him. I still know nothing about his past. It surprised me how easily I put him in safe and ordered box in my mind. I didn’t think I did that anymore. There was something to be learned here.

I guess I faced my own hypocrisy. Not that I had much of that, but I still had some residue deep within me.

Apparently he had his own cave, with a garden and everything. I never went to visit him. I didn’t even know where he lived. It’s possible that it was not possible for us to visit him, because there was no person or place to visit. He only came to fill the gap in our otherwise dysfunctional semi-tribal techno-hipster family.

Here I go again, mythologizing a human being. Nils is just a person with his past, his issues and his ups and downs. Right?

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