Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The first thing I do

The first thing I do every morning when I wake up is fill myself with garbage. I fill myself with emails and phone calls and tasks on the computer. I fill myself with ‘to-do’ lists and errands and planners and papers. It’s like eating ice cream for breakfast only it’s not tasty and it’s not sweet.

There is an emptiness now where the emails used to be. With them, my identity is gone, like socks from the dryer, to some unknown place. I need to stay in my room for days and wallow under the covers. I need to shut out the world and her screaming demands. I need to give myself permission to be silent and missing, like a phantom soldier not yet home from the war.

Lie to me and tell me you love me. Tell me you miss more than my efficiency and competency. What will become of me now that I’ve left you for a moment? Will I join the pictures on the wall of exiled ancestors that came before me? Will I become a legend or a rumor? Where do we go from here?

I’m so scared. I’m so new at this – staying with the emotion and feeling – not running away. I want to go to sleep and I want to sleep for days and I want to wake up when I don’t feel anything anymore. But you say this emotion is a gift. You say I am finding my voice, unleashing my power. I can feel the latent force within me. It’s been there for as long as I can remember. I have always tried to keep it at bay like a dog on a leash. It’s wild now. Its rabid, it’s raging. It’s tossing me in the white waters, throwing me up against jagged rocks. I’m soft like a fish, flopping my way down the stream toward some unknown destination. And I hate not knowing. I hate not knowing where I am going. I hate being scared and lost and not in control.

Squeezing the words out of my impacted brain is like trying to force oatmeal through a funnel. I have to push them out onto the page. I have to squeeze and contract my feeble brain until it produces one letter, one syllable, one meaningless phrase. And where is this going? This writing leads nowhere. I am a tortured artist on a horse with no name. What’s the point?

Salvation. I like the notion of salvation. I like the thought of someone saving me. Bring me joy. Bring me bliss. Then I don’t have to go out and search for it on my own. She said, ‘you don’t have to be good. You don’t have to crawl on your knees. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.’ How I wish that were true! How I wish I did not have to be good, did not have to crawl on my knees, did not have to do anything except love what I love.

Acceptance. There is a word that has taunted me for ten years. Accept the things you cannot change. You don’t have to like them, understand them or forgive them. You only have to accept them, without trying to change them.

Adapt. Everyone tells me I should adapt. Everyone tells me I should turn purple and blue and green like the chameleon just to ‘fit in.’ It’s not your problem, they say, stop making it your problem. Calm down. Let it go.

I wish I were a kite and you were the string and you were holding me lovingly while standing firmly on the sand and my ribbons, they would dance in the wind, my head bobbing and weaving like a brightly painted Chinese dragon, my colors brilliant, my body free.

I want to punch something. I want to take the force inside of me, channel all of it into my fist and punch something so hard that I break my arm. I want to break something. I feel so unfortunate to have all of this emotion and yet you say it is a gift. How could it possibly be???

What if I wrote for no reason? What if I locked myself up for 90 days and wrote for no reason? What if I didn’t write a book or a poem or a story? What if I just got up every day and wrote whatever was going to come out? Would it eventually lead to something? Would it be worthwhile even if it didn’t lead to anything?

I have a headache. It’s as if the opposing forces inside of me are waging louder and harder than before. It’s as if the quiet dispute is now a full-on war. I wish I could talk to you. I wish you were not avoiding me, hiding from me, running away from me. I wish you knew how to be my friend. But the irony is that you fill me like ice cream, too, leaving me fat and tired and lazy instead of allowing my wounds to bleed onto the page. The loneliness forces me to write. Otherwise there would only be meaningless talking and gossip and chit-chat and advice.

I think there are worlds within me. I think there are glass cities underwater and serial killers in the desert and weddings on the beach. I don’t know where they come from or where they’re going. I only know that I feel like they are there.

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