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           I remember the first time I saw the album cover of Destroyer by Kiss. It was at Camp Becket, during a dance with Chimney Corners, our sister camp just up the road. Music was provided by a band, made up of camp staff members, and a DJ. Milk crates full of records sat right next to the stage, and I took to flipping through them when I wasn’t dancing. Which was often, because back then, I didn’t dance much.
           So I’m flipping through the albums, and I come to Destroyer, which I had never seen before. Holy Fuck. Instant “Deer In The Headlights”. It’s one of those moments where not only the image, but the entire totality of the experience, becomes permanently etched inside of you; I call it Experiential Permafrost. My mind, my body, my heart, my very spirit, were suddenly assaulted with something that was so overwhelming that I literally, absolutely, froze solid. I could do nothing but stare.  
           Suddenly, everything that I was, indeed everything that I had ever been, became completely absorbed in that album cover. In those moments, I ceased to exist; I was beautifully lost in that all consuming image. The rest of existence became nothing more than white noise. My entire universe was that painting. It was the first time in my life that I was acutely aware that I was experiencing something much bigger than myself. It was a spiritual experience. No fuckin’ question about it.
           The spiritual essence came from my identification of something inside of me that was in perfect harmony with, completely connected to, something outside of me that felt bigger than life itself. Some people get that experience in church. I get it in lots of places. This was my first memory of it. Looking at an album cover. At camp. Who would have thunk.  
           That cover invaded my very being, and took me out. Out of space, out of time, out of myself, and then back into myself, all at the same time; like a loop that repeats itself faster than you can think. I could not get enough. Unconsciously, it was the birth of an awareness in me that I could not yet identify. The awareness was that, unlike most teen agers, I didn’t want to escape: I wanted to Metamorphosize. I wanted to Transform. I wanted to Transcend.
           Even in the emotionally turbulent and totally mayhemic world of early teen agers, I was different. Much like the band Kiss, who, even in the positively insane world of rock music, were different. I was, like them, a misfit amongst misfits. Not in the way I dressed though. My unique fashion senseless would develop a little later. Somehow, I knew that, in the words of my writing coach, Anika Nailah, I “shopped in a different isle”.
           Transcending, Transforming, and Metamorphosizing the conventional, or what’s considered “normal”, is something I do naturally, constantly, simply as a function of who I am. I do it on the inside, in the way I think and feel and experience. I do it on the outside, in what I say and in what I do. I’m engaged in the process of assisting others who are interested to do the same. To expand their concepts, and beliefs, and ways of thinking, and attitudes, and feelings, and behaviors. To open them up to the idea that maybe, at least on some scale, in some contexts, there’s a different way to do things, a different way to live. To embrace whatever it is that makes them different, whatever it is that makes them unique, whatever it is that makes them who they truly are, and bring more of that into the world.
           Destroyer remains a talisman for me, even to this day. Whenever I want to remind myself that it’s okay to be different, I stare at that painting for a while. And I just feel better.

    ©2013 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart, and Red F Publishing. All rights reserved.


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