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Me and Holden Caulfield

From DeviantArt by Mecrcurio 2539
You remember reading "Catcher in the Rye," don't you? Most of us did in high school. I don't remember if it was required reading or not, but I read it and re-read it. The angst of Holden Caulfield, the book's narrator, is one that resonates with most teens I think. He finds the adults in his life both annoying and baffling, he's bullied by his school mates, and adores his little sister. He's trying to figure out a world that makes no sense, and he finds refuge in both bitterness and innocence, despite clear signs to the reader that his view of the world is tinted by mental illness.

Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be.

I'm with Holden right now, watching my child run towards a cliff. Holden, in his embittered yet virtuous nature, sees himself saving these kids - he has to: no one else is there! He'll be that guy that saves those kids...maybe because no one is there to save him.

Oh, Holden, I wish it were that easy. I wish I could just grab my son and haul him away from a cliff he seems bound and determined to leap over. I'm standing there, in the rye, waving my arms frantically and calling out, "Over here! Stop! Come this way!" as I watch my son look at me, and determinedly run away.

I have to keep consciously telling myself: This is not my fault. This is his choice. He knows the difference between right and wrong. He is making these choices, and they are not a reflection of me.

But it still hurts. I'm not sure Holden understood that part: that some of those kids don't want to be caught. They see you on the edge of that crazy cliff, they know the cliff is there, and yet....

Of course, the irony for Holden is that he himself is running over the cliff. He's made a huge mess of his life (some of it his fault, some not) and he's over the cliff.

Either way, we cannot save those who do not wish to be saved. I can be the catcher in the rye, but the only way I can be of help is to pray.

And so I do.

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