There will be some stalling — a fall in the wind, and then the impact… the explosion, the shattering and breaking free of something enormous and clumsily-tethered.
I feel it stirring, feel the tension in my chest and temples and jaw.
It has to get like this. It has to push up against itself until it topples over. It must swell until it can no longer contain itself.
And I have to let it.
First things stop working, and then they get bad enough. Sooner or later you are left alone in a too-hot room, heart swollen and damp, bursting into the cool night with so many tears that the soul is torn down and shattered — becomes weightless — begins anew. Any effort before that point is mayonnaise on parched bread, scotch tape on plaster, a bandaid on that amputation.
Eventually things stop working — the food, the sleep, distraction, thrill of doing the unruly or absurd, being the center of attention, obsession with color-coded Tupperware, the world getting too small, plans of next year next week tomorrow — and never life in the present moment.
Caffeine no longer helps, porn does not hit the soul’s G-spot, spending money just turns me over on myself. Watching my behavior until the horror of witnessing it surpasses the torture it seeks to comfort.
And there is sometimes Tetris, and there is mostly a kitchen table, nag champa incense, a tank of dying angelfish, and the music of Andrew Bird.
And the urges come to escape this: make that list! Do that thing! And I say NO — sit right fucking here until you break — until you’ve had enough that the lists don’t bind you anymore and the guilt is set free, until you hit the breaking point of not being able to handle it anymore and letting go, hitting bottom, and turning yourself over again.
Sit here until the nightmare shatters and your world shifts so enormously that you can walk out onto that porch and tell me, “I’m ready to become a participant, ready to let go of fear and nouns I cannot control. I am ready to put down the remote, the bowl of pasta, the to do lists — and live my life.”
Tonight I sit here at this island table until I get there. Because I’m closer to that breakthrough than I’ve ever been and if I keep chasing it down with distraction, I’ll never break and heal and grow. I’ll stay where I am now — stagnant, overwhelmed with shame and guilt, afraid of myself and the world I live in, totally and completely paralyzed in every sense of the word.
This is what I’m talking about — the life where one does not need obsessive lists, schedules, goals… just a few concrete focuses and the willingness and discipline to act, decision to decision, towards them.
Shhhh. Don’t even tell me what they are. SHOW ME.
You don’t define yourself as a runner; running makes you a runner.
Tonight I meet the ache head-on. I am the tabla master tonight — drumming through this pain long enough to be approached by the ghosts — the long-forgotten pains of another life — chased by my current fears and night terrors, the future that looms sometimes bleak, sometimes filled with more chaos than I can handle, and I’m drumming through it all, hand to skin to hand, trying not to lose my rhythm, knowing if I can just stay with this song until the ghosts have quieted, I’ll be able to put the drum down and dedicate my hands and rhythm to something new.
When are you going to step out of these lead shoes? This self-made mental prison?
How about tonight?
I wrote these words on July 5th, 2003 — more than four years ago, on a Saturday night at 7:04 PM, but it may as well have been tonight.
It’s comforting to see them in my own handwriting on gently yellowed pages, 18 notebooks back in my chronological shelf of 68 volumes, housed in my white bookshelf, guarded by frosted glass doors etched with bamboo and blossoms.
I’ve left myself a little breadcrumb trail. Page by page. Step by step. Back to sanity.