“Oh, oh… Things I long for.” – Augie March
Wow. It’s just… wow.
Like how, at 46, can my brain and guts and emotions still surprise me, churning out a state I can scarcely remember ever being in before? One that knocks me over to where I’m grasping for the scaffolding, the unseen Matrix of the world as I’d previously assumed it was; wondering, “Why is everything listing sideways and racking in on itself all of the sudden?”
Sure, the simplistic answer is, “Duh, Scott, it’s the meds.” But — while I’m probably the least qualified person to make this assessment, I’m pretty sure it’s not. a) I’m on a ridiculously low dose; they don’t make a smaller amount. Seventy five pound pre-teens take this much, and I’m over 200, and quite stubborn. b) This didn’t start right away. The timelines don’t match up. Afterwards, yes. But other factors seem involved. Instead, if memory serves, its crept in gradually, like sunlight coming in through a window on the first morning after you scraped all the old black paint off overnight. Dawning from almost pure dark. Illuminating. c) Pretty sure I could quit taking them and, while it would likely get mighty squirrelly for a while, I don’t think this wouldn’t go away. Like a word you can’t unlearn, or a spoiler you can’t fool yourself into not knowing when you actually go watch the thing. Even possible it would just intensify.
OK — clarity.
It’s like The OA went from occasionally buzzing over my studio, checking in on me on that one perfect hour of that one ideal day per week (or less — sometimes way less), to setting up a permanent HQ in my heart of hearts, pumping out inspiration and obsession and guts and this overwhelming sense of possibility 22 hours a day.
To the extent that this is mostly good, I’m tempted to do that thing Maron said, where when you finally figure something out in life, the kneejerk reaction is to go, “What took you so long, dummy?!” (eg. heaping on more self criticism instead of giving yourself credit for growth; or instead of simply feeling grateful that a bounce finally went your way.) I am tempted to do that — that would be right out of my standard playbook — but I’m not doing that. And mostly because — as strange and revelatory and odd as this sensation or experience is — it’s not all great.
For example, it’s very unfamiliar; like new terrain. And that’s unnerving because I’ve been such a creature of predictable routines and habits, these last many years. Sensing that so many of my well-worn paths and default answers are suddenly up for grabs; having to reconsider things that I’d long assumed were just unerring bedrock; that’s tough work. Destabilizing. Sleep depriving, because the machine’s gotta run that hot for that long just to process it all, before the next new batch of data hits the RAM.
So yes, it’s frequently great — like, amazing. More highs and wows and woofs in a typical week than I’d thought possible. But also really fucking confusing at times; often too bright, oversaturated, and unyielding in its persistent nagging at my consciousness.
The blues are so blue that I’m wondering if it’s time to replace my contacts. Or the nights so long and mysterious that I wonder if I really did die in that frozen lake. Or the songs so rich, and full of portent and personal significance that I think maybe I just dreamed them being written 20 years ago, and they’re actually new. How else to explain having already heard them a few dozen or hundred times before grasping that the line, “All colors bleed to red / Sleep on the ocean’s bed” means death?
[And knowing that it’s not actually grasped, per se — that this conviction is just one of many potential interpretations and moods and moments and portents — somehow knowing that doesn’t actually diminish the impact. Instead it just makes my mind boggle at the capability of the writer and singer even more. The song contains multitudes, many of them hidden in plain_sight. Like: who knew songs could do that?!? I thought I did; then I didn’t; and, somehow, now I do again. Weird.]
For as dull as the drumbeat of despair had hammered my soul, at times now — especially when I’m overtired — I’d almost gladly retreat back to passive acceptance for a bit, just to cool my jets. I mean… incandescent is awesome, but sometimes a little dark and quiet go a long ways, too. It’d be good to find some middle ground, a sandbar amidst the torrent of my Middle Passage, to occasionally beach my little craft upon and wait for stranger tides.
[OK. This one should really stay on the PRIVATE side of my writing membrane. PUBLIC is way too dangerous. Initiating self-control module in 5, 4, 3, 2… Oh, shit! You missed six!]
“There’s no such place.”