Junior year of college, I spend spring break at a "retreat" to a Zen monastery. It's much weirder than I expected--everyone, male and female, sleeps on the floor in a big pile, for about five hours a night. Our days are split between the chores and maintenance of the monastery and hours of meditation. Hours. This is how I discover I am unable to meditate. I kneel, and am quiet, and cannot still my mind. I feel every minute of those hours. I flit through sexual fantasies, recounting the plots of movies in my head, doing math, wondering if everyone besides me is in some state of transcendent bliss while I just wish I had something to read.
I am very uncomfortable and very concerned about being polite. The idea that I could simply leave--either in the sense of catching a ride back to town, or merely stepping outside the meditation hall when I damn well feel like it--does not cross my mind. The monks are harsh as drill sergeants, chastising anyone who moves out of the prescribed position for an instant. My feet fall asleep, so badly once that I can't get up because my foot is completely dead, numb and paralyzed and floppy for a minute before it can bear weight, and they tell me to stop being disruptive. They tell a lactose intolerant student that he will eat cheese or not eat; they tell all of us that the only water we may have with meals is the water we rinse our bowls with, and without complaining we drink warm dishwater. I am consumed with the idea that all my fellow students are deriving great pleasure from this experience and viewing it as a great privilege, and I am the only exception. I must not be taking this in good faith, I must not be trying hard enough.
I never do figure out what to make of this experience. It's not a simple case of "then it all turned out to be an evil cult!" The monks put a lot of effort into us and didn't get an inordinate amount of money or work from us. Most of what they did was accepted Zen practice. Maybe it was me; maybe I was not culturally or psychologically prepared for spiritual self-deprivation, and so it became plain old deprivation. Maybe if I had been able to experience meditation the entire character of the trip would have been changed for me. Maybe Zen practice itself is actually kinda fucked up.
They hit us with a stick. This is called Keisaku, it's a real thing. It's supposed to shock and focus your mind. They hit you only upon request, but they hit quite hard, a gigantic thud across your entire back. I request one every time they come down the line of students with the stick. It's not to clear my mind--I've given up on that--and it's not for some kinky thrill. It's just to get some stimulation.
Eight years old. I've just read about Harry Houdini. His life sounds so exciting! MAGIC! I get some rope and beg everyone I know to tie me to a chair so I can escape. If I get out, I tell them to do it better. If I can't get out, I don't really mind; in a weird way it's comforting. This is one of my favorite games.
Another one is getting into the cages at the vet's office (where I nominally "volunteer" but mostly just hang out). The other volunteer can only fit in the dog cages, but I'm kind of a tiny kid and can get in the cat cages with effort. I don't come out until I have to.
Any time I watch cartoons, my favorite parts are the ones where the heroes get tortured. The scene in Star Wars where the Emperor electrocutes Luke, or various cartoon shows where the enemies imprison or interrogate their captives using an Ill-Defined Blue Force Field Of Pain, hold a special fascination for me. I masturbate (although I don't know that's what it is at the time; I just touch myself a place that feels good and then there's wet stuff, masturbation is some icky complicated grownup thing) thinking about these scenes. I grind myself on the floor when I reenact them with my action figures.