I have been at the bottom of the well, where a fluorescent, pale light shone brightly in my eyes all day and all night, and where the only sound I heard was the monotonous drone of despair. I have tried to sleep or eat or drink or sex that light and that sound away. I have, ever so briefly, turned on the gas stove and blown out the flame. I have written and rewritten “There and Back Again.”
And now I live here.
Here, some days, I wind myself tight: watching the news, reading online commenters slash at one another, caught in the swirling around me that I call “chaos.” Also here, some days, even a cloudy drizzle buoys me while I carry the recycling to the curb; sounds of my children squabbling over the inconsequential—over “Don’t touch my Legos” and “I was sitting in that chair” and “I want you to snuggle me”—shrinks my life-or-death obsessions to their proper size.
Day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute I shuttle between here and there, between floating and drowning.
Here’s a phrase I hate: It’s all good. Hurt is not good. Suffocating is not good. Immobile is not good. But, it is. Not good, not bad. Simply is.
I think absolutely every place exists (as well as some we’ve never heard of). I think absolutely every place demands—in order to be seen—that I make peace with this self that I keep shattering into fragments so that I can discard what I don’t “like.
This morning, I came across this blog post, which I enjoyed. But I knew that for me the graphic is all wrong. I’m becoming convinced that magic happens everywhere, in all situations and weather, among kind people and cruel. I’m becoming convinced that the act of parsing the world this way, of trying to distinguish calm and chaos as states outside myself, destroys “here” as a comfort zone. I felt calm, even amused, when one of my children said in anger, “I’ll be glad when you die.” I felt chaos when my therapist once leaned forward to tell me, “You know, you are a good person.”
I am a maelstrom; a Zen master; a teacher who has fled from his students; a writer who has refused to put words on the page. I hold grudges; I forgive without conditions; I am an absolute coward; I am incredibly brave. This is where I live; this is my dis/comfort zone. This is the place from which I will always have to write.
The question: How to live and write from this place? That’s the part I’m trying to figure out. This blog post offered a wonderful start. Ultimately, though, we each have to answer this question for ourselves. For me it involves finding a way to come to terms with all the aspects of this guy who occupies my skin, and when I write, I feel myself move in that direction.