14 January 2018

Highwire Over the Black

8:13 PM. Notes from the cell. A mid-winter night's nightmare. I tell you now this is not a "feel good" essay.

That which troubles my sleep, and my waking hours. I am tightrope walking over a scar of infinite black below. The curiousness of the activity stems from not comprehending how it came to be. My mind is not expansive enough, yet. 

On one side of this chasm lies a carnivale of connection and affection which I crave. On the other lies a fortress, built of the stones of bitterness, into which my heart wishes to retreat. All the while, my feet shuffle gingerly over the wire. The wind of desperation tests my balance.

Move forward, move back, it matters not. Any choice involves a fall. The blackness of mistrust threatens to swallow me whole should I slip. It threatens to swallow me should I stand still. Paralyzed, cold, frantic. Mistrust seeps into every feeling, every thought. This is no way to have a life.

Paradoxically it also feels like being backed into a corner. Two walls, floor, a low ceiling all closing in. There is no wind, only a thickening atmosphere. Left with nothing but desperation to figure out who to trust, as there is none towards others or myself. The unofficial motto for the Disunited States of Me: “In Pain We Trust”.

Snow is falling as I write this. I see the fat flakes hurtling to the ground. On the radio, The Jayhawks croon “You shouldn’t hide your colors” to which a bitter chuckle escapes my lips. Shouldn’t hide my colors? Noble, it might seem. Courageous, perhaps. I let my colors fly because I believed those things to be true. My reward was to watch while the heart to which mine had pledged allegiance cut down my mast and set the flag ablaze. Glory ending in ashes and rubble.

My soul is neither coroner nor archaeologist, but it finds itself sifting through the blackened debris that surrounds it. Fragments of a life. Bits and pieces tattooed with words barely visible through traces of smoke and charred edges. It is painful, this performing of forensics on the shattered remains of one's own heart.

Out on the wire, nothing stays still. Thoughts, feelings. The pulse in the veins even contributes its own instability, a constant challenge to the act of standing still. Staring into the tea mug I watch the trembles of my hands translate into ripples over the mahogany liquid. Closing my eyes, I dive in, surfacing on the wire again. The sun is peeking through the clouds. But I am still there suspended over the void. Connection seems so close, if only I could believe. 

The fortress may be cold and dark but it has thick walls. Walls that deflect pain and rejection, behind which sleep might be possible. The carnival is bright and warm but in the past I have paid dearly for the cost of a ticket. A ticket which did nothing to prevent the despair of rejection. So it is I am paralyzed on the wire. My colors are mute and hidden. It is only a matter of time before I fall. The question is, which way?


07 January 2018

Moment Stretches On Forever

Nothing lasts forever. Everything is transient. So says popular wisdom and some religions. If so, does that mean time is elastic? Heartache drawn out in front of a second hand that never seems to move. Despair squeezed my heart with a cold hand, the shock of which galvanized me into twitchy wakefulness.

Awake to a sky burnished pearly and streaked with dull orange. The cottage cold as the fire burned low. Sitting up on the edge of the bed I felt the dream receding like the waves sliding up and down under the ice along the shoreline. Head heavy and sluggish, the ocean looking the same and eerily gelatinous. The ocean, I thought, is transient in appearance but not in existence. It is there. Always.

Apparently like the pain I felt this morning. Still feel, that is. The notion of transient and "this too shall pass" seeming an insult in the face of the broken heart lodged in my chest. It too shall pass? 

"When?" I muttered to the icy air. "Time is stretching out before me, and the end point of this seems nowhere in sight!"

Oyster colored clouds parted out over the waves. A thin beam of sunlight slowly made its way into the cottage, limning the interior with a glow that had little warmth. Outside the waves continued their slow caress of the beach along the headland. Faint tinkling reached my ears as the ice clotted along the tideline shifted. 

The blood seemed thicker in my veins. I could smell the salt water but it did not stir me in the usual manner. It was cold. I needed heat. I needed light. Time to stoke the fire. I shuffled over to the hearth, picking up the ice cold iron poker to prod the embers. Driftwood was low. I would need to do a beach walk.

I threw a few pieces of salty wood into the fireplace. More would go into the small potbelly stove, for tea and breakfast. The flames winked into existence, slowly growing in intensity. The minerals in the wood flared faint blue and green as they burned off. The heat seeped into my grateful bones. 

I turned to look out the windows facing the sea. The water was jade flecked with orange and gold from the sun. It was beautiful. The horizon stretched from side to side, infinite, relentless. It became my moment, delineator of pain, stretching on for what seemed like forever. To my lips came the prayer that soon the clock would tick, and this moment of pain would pass. The waves break, the ice cracks and groans. I wait.