As with fashion, so with truth – Most striking where least expected. To penetrate such widespread malaise, ennui, complacence, discontent, indifference, it is imperative to shock.

I used to believe that life was a continual romance with pain. I did not hurt others, nor did I hurt myself. I took on the hurt of others. I bore it for them. I endured their pain, because I could, because my capacity for pain was greater than theirs.

I am a Snake. When provoked to act, I strike with vehemence sufficient to dissuade and to disincline. It is a reflex, nearly involuntary, a snapping of the conscious mind, releasing an unconscious instinct, devoid of conscience, unaware of risk, heedless of conclusion, again, requiring little effort, and less energy. Until such provocation, loathing remains a matter of principle, of belief; the strongest disfavour reserved for that which is fundamentally, essentially contrary to my individual, personal constitution, disposition, and temperament.

I ate the sins of others, too. I swallowed them; so that the anguish those trespasses would cause could be met by me. I did not pardon the penalties for their sins, of course. How could I? Is it not known that the penalty for sin is death? I am no expiatory agent. Fearless, though, I believed that I could eat their sins, devour them whole, undiluted, diminishing consequence to the erring by bringing consequence upon myself, my redemption but another gauntlet away, another battle waged and won, another foe subdued. The gauntlets were after all really mine alone to run. Once run, where there was need of atonement, only fulfilment remained.

Why me? Why was I born defiant of fear, dauntless unto folly, recklessly assured of the boundlessness of both my vulnerability and my invincibility. Why? What brought me there, to that place, to those places? Of what was I guilty at birth to have deserved such torment. None of that matters. Destiny may not be coerced, cajoled, or counted on.

Of course, all of this is sacrilegious, is it not? Yet without religion, can there be sacrilege?

Despite and still, today, the angels only leave me when I smile.