There is a beast inside me. It is a wild, hungry, raging creature born and moulded from the raw energy that composes and binds the universe. Its breath is fire and it howls in the night, stomping, pacing, smoldering within its bounds. It is freedom that it craves and the cage that has contained it these last twenty years is beginning to rust.

It has been barely a week since I rode the Sado Long. Cautious at first, concerned primarily with successfully completing the task of riding 210 kilometers, I eventually found myself alone, just me, the road, and the Beast. I remember the very moment that we locked eyes. I was on a medium length ascent, probably around 6-8% grade and all the men around me were aching and dragging their way up what was in all honesty a moderate climb at best. The part of me that makes most of my life decisions, the cool, rational, respectable side of me, was exhausted. I had nothing left — no reason to believe that I could do any more than crawl my way up the slope with the rest of the men on the road. It was then that the beast spoke to me. I am you. I am in you and I rage. I am not dead yet. You are not done yet. Together, we will fly. I spoke its words aloud, “I am not done yet!” and even as I uttered them I felt the fire fill my body as the beast took over my consciousness.

It has been barely a week since I released the Beast. I can feel it in my muscles, under my skin, seething, flowing, burning. On my bike, on that road, surrounded by humans but completely alone, when it was just me and the beast, I was seduced. I did not think about the consequences of my actions. I was vaguely aware that the speed with which it drove me might not be sustainable over the distance. I was somewhat concerned that the raw energy, the ikioi of the Beast, was more than my weak body was able to manage and that I would find myself broken and lifeless, perhaps in a hunger lock as the Japanese say, somewhere on the side of the road a few kilometers up. I did not consider the possibility that the Beast might not quietly return to its cage when my body was physically exhausted. Indeed this was the far greater risk in releasing it than any damage I could have done to my physical self that day.

It has been barely a week since the Beast and I have begun to cohabit this same body together. Already I can feel it cracking my boundaries and bleeding out into the outside world. Yesterday I woke up and saw my image flash in the mirror as I sat up out of bed. My hair is ringed in flaming pink like a crown of other worldly fire on my head. Of course I’m the one who put it there, but I didn’t consider the consequence of my actions as I bleached out my normal color and painted in the shining, flourescent dye. I had to go to work that day and meet with my students. No time to cover it up or tame it down. No time to pretend that I was not a professor of economics at a prestigious university who was sporting flaming hot pink hair. Fear took over me then. What would my colleagues think? Would I be criticized? Would they tell me to put it away? To lock it up again? Would this one small act of coloring my hair spell the end of my contract, the end of my precious work visa and my access to Paradise? I had no time to think on these matters, only prepare myself to accept the consequences in whatever form they appeared.

I have been chasing a Dream for something around three years now. Every time I check in, the dream has shifted form. Where once the dream was to run away from the world and live in the mountains, it was then to bring the world with me into the mountains to share with them the paradise I learned how to access. Today, my dream has shifted yet again. I want freedom. I want to live in harmony with the Beast. I know now that the Beast is my life force. These years, decades almost, that I have been living in pain, feeling chained by the weight of responsibility and rejected by society, I thought they were spent in mental sickness. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with chronic depression. I was not depressed. I was starving. I was suffocating. The Beast in me had taken with it all my will to live and I had locked it up in an iron cage and naively hoped that with time it would become tame. The Adults around me told me that taming the beast was my God given responsibility as a human being on this earth. They told me that to successfully tame the beast would be to achieve everlasting life. They lied. To tame the Beast is to have everlasting death; to die, every day, over and over, slowly and painfully. To lock up the Beast is to stand on the edge of a mountain, looking over the valley and hearing the rushing stream of snowmelt below, feeling the warm sun on your skin and the gentle breeze that washes the clouds across the sky, and to be unmoved by it.

It has been barely a week since I released the Beast and I am scared. The power of this creature is overwhelming, but it is also uncontainable. I cannot control the beast any more than a sea wall can hope to control the weight of the ocean. To lock it up again would surely kill me. I have been in the black chasm that is the Beast’s prison and I will never go back there. However to allow it to rage free across the canvas of my life is to reign chaos down on everything that I know. I could lose my job, lose my home, become separated from the people I love, and the only family I know. I like to believe that I am strong. I like to believe that I am intelligent and that no matter what happens that I will find a way to survive. But I don’t just want to survive. I want to Live. I want freedom.

I and the Beast, we will have our freedom.