25 January 2011

Ice Station Ego

It was one of those days when feet hit the floor, oystery light seeping through the blinds, and there is a staggering realization that today won't be much different than yesterday.  Yesterday, reflection of all the days before, a rippling countenance the color of an ashtray filled with water.

The faint metallic tang of desperation gently poisons the air.  Breathing suddenly becomes a weightlifting contest, as the sluggish eddying in the lungs attempts to shrug off something that feels like diver's weights around the neck.  Hands involuntarily reach for the throat, grasping and pulling, only to drop rapidly at the embarrassment of finding nothing there.

How can that be?  It was so hard to sit upright, waking from a feverish dream of predator and prey.  The dream dissolved into the fog of half-sleep, and the nacreous light made it impossible to drift backwards.  So habit takes over, the limbs move, the mouth widens in a yawn...the brain recoils at the thought of lather, rinse, repeat.

Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.

For a long minute of vertigo, the body screams to be back under the sheets, head under the pillows.  As if goose down could be like the tin-foil hats deranged people wear to keep out the mind-reading waves.  Only this time, they would keep out the Fear and the Panic, that insidious reality that sometimes leads one to believe that, in some ways, life is over.  It isn't dead, it's just over.

There is nothing quite so heavy on the head as the crown of thorns one creates for oneself, crafted from the thorny vines of insecurities that thrive in the dark, and tied together with the barbed wire made of that peculiar fear that says "There are things you may never feel or experience again."

That itself creates an ice-water bolus through the heart and into the gut.  Fall forward or backward, perhaps it doesn't matter, but the consequences are not so harsh if inertia is allowed to take over, forcing the body up and off the bed.

The cold is sharp, insinuative.  It bites, gently, and never seems to let go.

A few turns of the blinds rod, and the slats are open to allow the thick winter light to ooze into the room.  The scene gets brighter, but oddly not clearer.  Four heartbeats' worth of staring out the window confirms what the heart knew before the brain pretended to be awake.

It's just another day here, at Ice Station Ego.  Time to check the instruments, record the data and pretend that heat and warmth are more than just memories.


  1. Oh man Gumbo, I took a drive yesterday to run an errand, forgot my camera "gosh, darn it"! and saw so many frozen SOLID water stations. The geese were just milling through as usual. People hate the Canadian Geese here, but I find them amusingly strung out, fois gras intimidatingly, a break in the snowy wasteland...okay that is so going into a poem! Ha! See the drab dirty dingy ice conundrum is useful, in some form...

    I could go on, but the gym calls...

  2. Sometimes, I find days like that oddly comforting. Quiet, uneventful, uninspiring, unrewarding--the perfect day to look inward and ground yourself in the moment. To work out what's inherently good about being alive, rather than relying on life to give you a stream of external rewards.

    Loneliness, maybe is bad. But solitude can be good. And winter solitude can be profound.

  3. "There is nothing quite so heavy on the head as the crown of thorns one creates for oneself..." You said it, Gumbo, you said it. Is this also the dreaded cabin fever that winter inspires? How did Henry David deal with it?

  4. Whoa. This morning was like that. Depression pulled at me like cold, icy fingers, wanting to pull me under. It's something I fight daily these days. Its like you wrote what's in my head. Spooky! Solitude I don't mind. It's the insecurities and feelings of failure that threaten to pull me under. Good stuff, Gumbo. Great, even. :)

  5. Or, as we call it here, 'Tuesday'.

    I kid. It's not really cold here at all. :D

  6. Checking my ego is a good thing. It is like checking my motives for doing something. What am I really feeling and what am I really doing? The ego is there in all sorts of weather.

  7. Yup. It's exactly like that. Well done.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...