By Michael Bennie

“This will very likely kill us,” he whispers.
I give him a look. “Not now,” I whisper back.
“I’m telling you, this is super dangerous,” he insists, louder.
“Shush, drama queen.”

Silence, but only briefly before he slams his hand on the table between us, rattling the spoon in my bowl. “Wake up, idiot!” He’s shouting now.

Forgetting my appetite, I’m listening now, eyes wide as my Lizard Brain locks me into the tractor beam of his fiery gaze.

Part of me wants to yell back, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” It’s wrong to have him here in your home, I shame myself. He has no place at your table.

And part of me only wants to obey this loud reptile inside my head. He’s right, I fear, the burning gaze convincing me–almost–that it’s time to run or fight or hide.

Looking closer, I see something else in the eyes of my Lizard Brain. Earnest, honest concern for my safety. Fatherly protection. Been-burned-before despair.

I lean in and see neither demon nor truth-sayer, but a well-intentioned, overworked caregiver who loves my life at the most primal level. My eyes moisten with compassion and gratitude.

I reach across the table and place a hand on his tight fist, squeezing it. His eyes meet mine, shifting fitfully over my shoulder several times a second. I mouth the words, “Thank you.”

He doesn’t read my lips, his eyes still too busy flitting around the room at what might be about to hurt me. I speak aloud, “Thank you. Thank you for looking out for me all the time. Well done, good and faithful servant. We’re still alive.” I crack a smile at my out-of-context Scripture reference. He softens, his fist loosening slightly inside my hand.

“And it’s OK. Most of the harsh things people say mean nothing to our survival. Most of the dirty looks are not directed toward us. Most laughter is not at our expense. And even when it is, we’re OK.”

“Roll with me today, Lizard Brain. Ride along in the back seat–it’s good to know you’ve got my back there. But for today, my friend, would you leave the driving to me?”

(Find Part 1 of this series, Daydreaming of Cavemen here.)