People thought Amos was a narcissist, preoccupied with himself, his image, his fruitless perfection. They were half right. It wasn’t his interest in himself, exactly, that was so damaging and stultifying. It wasn’t that he had an intractable core self, it was rather that he had no solid self at all. In place of a self he had desire, an outwardly directed obsession with other people and what they could bring him. People often said that he lived too much in his own head, which again, was only half right. The more accurate take on his life would be that he lived in other people’s heads, constantly imagining and supposing who they were, and who they expected him to be. Amos didn’t know who he should be. He had never known. From an early age he felt an obscure absence, that something internal and essential was lacking.
Told over and again that he could be whatever he wanted, he put off identification. He was expected to do well in school, and harshly punished for failure, but when it came to his character, his history, and the greater arc of his life that would extend into the generations succeeding him, he was given nothing. No vision, no guidance, not even a suggestion. It was up to him. That was freedom as his parents conceived it. They felt constrained in their own lives, their parents had been repressive, punitive, and narrow in their values, and so when it came time to raise children of their own, they would correct those mistakes, and open up the range of possibilities. If Amos wanted to learn drums, they bought him a drum kit. If he wanted to rock climb, they bought him rock climbing gear. If he needed money for his latest mercurial interest, they were present. If he was spiritually lost, emotionally turbulent, sexually confused, they were no were to be found.
Less like family and more like custodians of an experimental humanity, the parents of Amos were unaware they were raising a quiet, passive monster, a deviation, a vaporous non being. He would not go on to commit atrocities. He had no overpowering violent urges, and no criminal sexual tastes. His monstrosity would never make headlines, but it would nevertheless sap lives, the very least his own. His friends, who saw him drift from life to life, always losing touch and forgetting what they had shared, his romantic partners, who each made the fatal mistake of seeing in him something that wasn’t there, and finally his parents, who too late realized their mistake, that they had warped their own genetic line with an arrogant, emotionally gutted approach to parenting. By abdicating their moral responsibility, by overcompensating with money and entertainment for what they lacked in convictions and beliefs, they had cocooned their child in a permanently larval state of masturbatory expectancy. Sooner or later he would break free and really become, it was hoped by all.
Old age brought belief in reincarnation. In his one life lived so far, he had already half heartedly reinvented himself several times over, and so his final dream was not to finally become who he was really meant to be, but to become something altogether other, anything that wasn’t living behind the unbreakable glass barrier of his consciousness. Maybe he could flourish in a form that was not nailed down by awareness of an arbitrary, meaningless freedom.