The green leaves washed in the light of the sun looked yellow; the tree stood in yellow-green silence as the wind tried to get a rise out of it. An unseen, shapeless, colorless cloud – I really haven’t seen the darn thing – passed in front of the sun as other dirty-white, partially-torn cotton balls (or sick vape clouds) moved briskly along the sky blue belt. They’re moving faster today than usual. The smell of brown-sugar coated ribs assaults me from the oven downstairs – just morty fore minutes before charring them on the grill. I begin to hear myself breathe, and suddenly, I’m enveloped in the sounds coming from the click-clack of my keyboard; my typing slows to try to reduce the noise, but the frustration of words passing me by urges me to sacrifice silence for more prose. The volume goes up, and the inspiration goes down. Coming face to face with the spectres of assumed creativity can prove to be quite a humbling task. It’s been a while since I’ve allowed myself free rain (simmer down, I know what I’ve down) over the downpour of literary attempts to create, to opine, to connect, to attribute, to illuminate, to narrate, to embody. 4/12 Kim paper #1 scrawled across a moving cloud reminds me that I’ve finished one of the milestones of this semester – I also need to wipe my window clean. A bird – probably – flies across my window. It could have been a bat. Or a bat. Or Badtz-Maru. Tippecanoe and Tyler, too. A smaller bird – seen this time – flies slower across my window headed in the same direction as the previous blurd (this seems the most genuine way to characterize the previous thing). I wonder where they’re all headed. Do they even know? Maybe it’s the annual meeting of birds in which birds of all feathers come together to resolve their differences in orderly, singsong manners. The crows and the sparrows would probably have much to reconcile. I yawn, and I feel somewhere behind my sternum, between my shoulders, right at the point of rising when drawing breath, go dry. Seventeen more minutes, and then it’s off to the ribs I go; my short, meandering, realistic, pointless, odd narrative is finally at its end as the bed calls for me to lay down and scroll until the ribs scream at me from their foil coffins.
I’m just tired; I’ve got some work to do; I’m fine; I don’t know what you’re talking about.
He went with, “I’m just a little tired,” because it was the most convenient half-truth to tell at the time. It felt like he could do nothing right that day. And he knew – he had been told, really – that it was all just an overreaction to a single negative situation, and his programed response to it was to catastrophize. Nevertheless, he didn’t care to fight back tonight. He joked about physical exams earlier, realizing too late that she was anxious from her latest checkup. The doctors were taking an uncommonly long time to return the results to her; in fact, self-diagnosing led her down a dark corridor with the walls closing in on all sides, stopping with just enough room for her to tuck her knees into her chin and hope beyond grace that it was all just catastrophizing. He hadn’t meant to lead her by the hand back to the corridor.
How selfish he was, letting his regret show on his face, putting her in a place of regretting her openness about her very real issue while fighting to steady the darkness from encroaching upon the rest of her night. And the way he left, making a big show of just how much he regretted making the joke, all the while leaving her ashamed and thinking – wrongly – that maybe she was being a burden on other people. Maybe he was putting prison bars where freedom walked, giving in to the whispers of doubt about just how good of a friend he actually was, and none of this was happening at all. He wanted to feel guilty about what had happened – he deserved to bear the responsibility for his mistake because he was supposed to be a good friend. It was the most convenient half-truth to accept at that time.
The retreat inwards began, but he didn’t notice. He just needed to get through to the end, and he would be home free – free from ruining anymore of his relationships, free to be silent, free to not live underneath the expectations that others had come to own. He would just run from it all because after all, he was just a coward who couldn’t face his reflection when it surrounded him. All he did was lie, sell himself as better than he really was, believe in his own lies, and continue manufacturing selves. Positivity was his most polished mask, and his heart had accumulated enough of his half-truths to believe it owned a single, reliable shard of honesty. At the end of the day, he was weak. He wanted to be strong; he wanted to be reliable; he wanted to be honest; he wanted to be kind; he wanted to be free to know who he was and where he stood without the ground collapsing at the slightest nervous shift in weight from right to left, plunging him into the frigid and lonesome below. He was catastrophizing.
Another mistimed joke, and he found himself lost. Why was he? Had he not realized that he could have tried not belittling people around him for once, just so that his own crudeness could find a measure of stability? Was it impossible for him to understand that who he was just didn’t fit who he thought he was? He was pitiful. He’d go home and paint something – painting would do the trick, what with the silence and the focus on making something really intricate so that he would just forget seeing his own face stapled onto his friend’s disappointment. He knew that it had been a rough week for him, but he let his own charm poison the vial even more. What a wreck. He really didn’t know who he was at all. All this time, he had the ridiculous idea that he had been doing him a favor when he himself was the burden. Is it only now occurring? He probably thought he was an idiot for even trying to show him in the most explicit way that he wasn’t the friend he thought he was, and here he was, thinking that he was saving him from the shadows. There wasn’t a thing right about him.
He dove into the dark of the ocean, colliding with the side of the boat on the way down. Abrasions didn’t matter anymore at this point; he wasn’t even sure he felt the slick, dull, trauma anymore. I can’t do anything right. I’ve heard that one already. Why are you wasting your time? Be honest about your mistakes. You’re the reason we’re here. Are you still here? Haven’t you grown up yet? Jeez. Get a grip. Move on. Stop worrying so much. Time will tell. Why didn’t you say anything? You disappoint me. Where is the surface? Don’t be a baby. Where are you going? You don’t understand. Why am I here? You’ll be fine. I can’t feel anything anymore. Who’s fault is that? You made this mess, you fix it.
His heart pounded and every beat felt heavier and heavier and slower and slower he felt it in his head and in his eyes until he was realizing that he was trying to breathe in deeply he was trying to breathe in but his lungs weren’t enough for him and he saw that it was dark except for a single moon far away though far from him and who he was and where he needed to be so he breathed less hoping to reflect on things more and realize that it was just catastrophizing it was just in his head it wasn’t going to be that bad it couldn’t be that bad what was going on he hadn’t felt this way in a long time but he couldn’t find his way out except to talk to no one about it because that’s who understood him best.
I can’t breathe. Just let me wake up.
“I began to lose touch with people and their particular personhood. What does that mean? Well, I guess you could say I began to find them more and more opposed to the goals I had. I began to see them less and less for their smiles, interests, and passions and more as obstacles to attaining what I had in mind. They became more burdensome to be around the more consumed I was with discovering knowledge. They just got in the way. When I wasn’t struggling to learn, I was thinking about how burdened I still was by the past. I couldn’t stop living my life through those eyes; maybe that’s why I ran to my studies. The world was tiresome. I don’t know. I’d spend hours trying to study, only to find that I had been thinking about how things could have been, and if they could still be. When my soul yearned to find an echo in the valley of the world, I was met with nothing but the sickening silence of a story that didn’t matter to anyone, a life that no one could attest to. It might have been the most lonesome place I’d ever had the misfortune of encountering, but that’d be a lie; I’ve never been more alone than when I was among them. The comparisons flooded over me until I was tumbling through waves of inadequacy mingled with the seafoam of frustration. I wasn’t one of them. And it seemed I never could be. And it was freeing, but in the vein of ‘I fell off a cliff, and now here I am – and swiftly.’ I’d soon work my whole life at being someone I wasn’t, hoping someday that the fog would lift, and I’d see myself among them in the heart of the forest, crowded around the light and warmed by its embrace. No sooner would I find myself dashed against the rocks of the ocean depths than when I opened my eyes to discover I’d been spending each moment falling further behind. There’s no end to it. And that’s the cruelty of the matter. This was me, and until I conceded that space and time would continue on in that casual, indifferent way, I would be lodged in my despair forever instead of progressing to the next instance of actuality. I discarded myself as an unrealized potential, mired too deeply in the concern with expanding what I could be instead of resigning to the possibility of a fixed reality. It was all a storm, but it was rife with indiscernible chaos; no pattern ever made itself readily available for interpretation. So I laughed and I laughed until insanity had been declared me, and then, I knew it was over. I could breathe again. I could hear again. I was safe again. But I yearned to be thrown back into the squall for another chance at proving myself to an unknown audience, unaware I’d been sitting in the theatre of my own life, clapping softly as the music faded. And that’s the fin of it all. It waved at me from the depths of the lake that I had plunged into, hoping to wake up and find that I’d been in the plot of another movie.”
– Confessor, the First.
I’ve walked a shadow’s dance,
a letter’s prance, a mountain’s trance.
Lances, shattered spiral twirls,
fallen stars that sunshine hurls,
poppy meadows deign to bellow
melodies of churches yellow.
A song of sorrow for tomorrow,
dancing sprite a heart did borrow.
Pardon me, the ride’s at three,
I have not paid the rainbow fee!
Time to eat a panda’s meat,
filled with fury, tasty heat –
in a hurry, speak the worry
as I run to seek the meek.