Why do words pop into our heads unprovoked? As I lay by the pool on a dark Fourth of July, “troglodyte,” for no reason, shot into my mind with a mountain of depth and seemingly personal historic meaning behind it. I had heard the word many times in the past and had most definitely, though temporarily, known it’s meaning at one time. But now, as little insects and faunal debris skimmed across the top of the pool surface, I couldn’t reckon it’s definition. But there was something behind the word that made its way through my mind over and over as I stared up at the sky, a warrior of the wasted day.
I felt as though the meaning, whatever it was, was being held up by countless generations of struggling humanity. That’s a strange thing to feel for no reason. There was a beast below the surface of the word and as I lay by the pool, my whole attitude, my whole perception of the day, changed. My footsteps were now troglodyte. My breath was troglodyte. The way I spoke was troglodyte. I had to accept this and I was more than willing.
Inside, I found my phone and looked up the word. Reading the several definitions was pleasing as I confirmed to myself that I had once known at least one. Beyond that, the definition was a confirmation of the feeling that had arrived with the word. The prehistory of everything before had skirted in on the breath of that word sent to me by some man lost in time. An un-speaking man. A man who’s existence I can only suppose. I was now troglodyte. And now I could start to live.
There is a chaos that lives inside me. I don’t know how it got there, but when I turn my back to you in bed, it’s not because I feel a disconnect in my affection for you. It’s because the dark chaos has compelled me to turn away from everything and be with it, serve it with my feeble will and dying hope. It likes to draw me back to the confusion of being. It likes to show me that I am an insect with a high regard for life.
Last night I felt it pulling at my heart. Not the heart of emotion and glory and love and pain, but the heart of the artery, the rhythmic thing inside my ribcage. That lump of muscle – gold under flesh. The dark chaos was saying things to me that must go unspoken. It was working as a doctor would work. It was hiding important things from me. It knew more about my body and breathing life than I ever could without the use of Buddhism or deep trance mastery.
We envision ourselves changed after the larger milestones in life are reached. We see what we want to become and say that once we achieve the important things (the married life, the procreation, the career) that we will have reached the new development of self. That we will live a new life as a different person.
What the chaos was showing me as it tugged on my leash was that fundamentally, I’ll never change. There will always be a private room where I bounce off the walls alone and stare out the window at the ever rotation world. And that everyone has a room of their own, some quiet in design and peacefully containing, others rabid and free with anxiety.
Last night I dreamt the shadows of what I had seen online the day before. Nothing interesting, just the residue of the internet, the images behind a thin veil, set as dreams. The repetition of content, too much for one mind. Too much for the billions of minds. I woke up indifferent and unknowing of the day or time. Our world is so timed it’s becoming hauntingly timeless. We are below time’s gaze.
I wonder if children today dream in digital life. I was born before the pounding repetition set in on this world and I remember the color of summer in my nose. The enlightening neighborhood around me, a piece of some human nature I couldn’t quite describe. And then inside my family home, the sun through the glass, the sound of distant phones ringing on walls and a lonely television somewhere.
We say, this is just a part of getting older. We say, this is what happens to every generation. We don’t understand the changes set in reverse on the youth of our time. They are coming too fast, like the daily world news shot at us from every direction. The film strip of our dreams is thickening. The plot is far away.
I seem to cloak everything in code. The meaning is always underneath what is actually showing. I only indicate signals, and I’m the only person who understands the code. So essentially, I’m always writing to myself. I am my own audience. I seem to be ostracizing the rest of world.
This is all an attempt to ward off the ever-imposing inevitability that I have nothing to write about by treating the act of writing like doing reps of push-ups. I’ve made this reference before. In a poem I think. Writing in this manner is easy because the story of nothing is ever-playing in my mind. It takes no algebra, no crafting of plot, no decisions with regard to aesthetic or originality. These headaches can remain neglected.
It’s easier to speak in code to oneself, to try then to decode in order to better understand the mutation that begins at birth and entraps the soul at adulthood. What if we could fully understand the purity of every impure thought?
– Make codes out of speech. Make the language of your mind turn ever inward and your thoughts windmill inside yourself.
I thought to myself, after getting home from another shift, after driving the same route home over the isolated graveyard streets, I thought to myself, why is the the world so sick? Such a vast and yet common thing to think. An idea so thought upon by history. Why is the world so sick? And I knew it was the human race that had to be responsible. There’s no other way.
So then I thought, why is the human race so sick? And that seemed better. And the world is taxed with the sickness of us and must be the backdrop (the beauty of its physiology), for illness to play out. And then I thought, what do we do about it? And came to nothing other than writing it down. And that has done nothing but turn the pages into a backdrop. The trees that the pages were made from. The plastic of the pen, of the billions of pens. The factory smoke of pens. The background of exploitation in factories. The electric light that lets me see my way over the lines, across the rummaging of thought.
And then back to the gas used to shuttle me across the dead night streets. And back to my own exploitation. My engine always being run so a business can run. The darkness it brings to light. But I sit here now in embrace of hatred. My questions have no answers, only the acknowledgement of the rising sun now just hours away.
I make fun of myself for fictional things. The other day, I was laughing at the idea of keeping a dream journal or a work journal. I was telling a co-worker after being asked how my shift went, that I was going home to write about it in my work journal. In my head, it had been a long and arduous shift. I laughed at my response as I waited at a red light listening to Tejano music on the radio.
I’ve begun to gauge my successes based on make-believe situations. In my mind, I’m frequently being interviewed about things I only hope to accomplish but in reality, never start. “Tell us how you came up with the idea. Explain your process.” The photographic negative of myself is very prolific. It taunts my textural self from the shadowed dimension just out of reach. That dimension is the measure of hope or longing or disgrace or a million versions of suicide considered.
Though the finite moments experienced by us stack up like a skyscraper, the things that will never happen define the upper atmosphere of modern life. This seems to be the diseased condition of my mind. I’m seeing a universe of moments only in my head. They will never enter the textural world. I’m threading the needle of a running illusion. This function of my imagination seems flawed and malevolent.
I’ve begun to focus only on simple tasks and the base execution of them. I do push-ups and sit-ups in order to feel a vague physical relationship with my cells and blood-rush. Order is now a path to reason and the eternal evidence of reality. It holds my photographic negative self at bay and lets me live out this temporary permanence.
I didn’t look at e-mail this morning. Didn’t tidy up my apartment. Didn’t check the weather, job boards, national news, social media. Didn’t even shower or make coffee. In fact, didn’t even eat. The buzzing sound inside my head felt too good to disrupt with the minutia of daily life. It’s amazing how much of life is frivolous and inconsequential once you single it out and strip it down to the base. All this minutia has found a way to materialize as one devouring pod of bewildering noise.
But this morning, the noise was gone. I knew it was somewhere out there in the distance, but for the time being, it seemed to have dispersed. Mornings like this are best left alone. Better to sit and enjoy the deprivation. To watch the light slowly brighten from behind the mini blinds. To listen to the sound of the neighbor upstairs preparing for work and to think nothing of it. Just the sound of the running shower. Just the footsteps. The hum of the cars on the highway. Garner from them no reaction.
Is it possible to live always in the upper corners of every room? Is it possible to send the mind to the far corners upon darkening each doorway? To peer at the landscape of every room from above. To perceive each moment before it comes into being and then observe it like a surgery. A godly fantasy. God is a quiet one.
In my alternative reality, I sit here within this morning for eternity. My body is only form now. My mind, a placid stasis. Functionality and godliness, those two opposing forces, have stretched me to beyond my death. The neighbor’s door slams closed. Her footsteps rush to meet the pod, ever growing. The morning will make way for the afternoon. After that, something else. After that, something else.
Got kicked out of the writers group. Happened this evening after the meeting. For some season she waited until after the meeting to kick me out. She could’ve saved me the time, just having to sit there through the meeting not knowing. Then getting kicked out over a cigarette outside. I just walked to my car and left. Didn’t go back in to say goodbye to the rest of the group. I’m sure some of them knew I was being kicked out. I went to the bar and sat alone, and for the most part, I didn’t think much about it.
Back at home, I did a little writing and thought it went better than usual. I had the notion that the reason it went better was because I got kicked out of the writers group. I tend to do better on my own, or at least I feel like do. I had a drink and went to bed.
I woke up at around 4 a.m. The candle on the bedside table was still burning and there was a pool of wax under the flame. My head felt a little heavy and I thought that maybe I was a bit hungover or just really depressed. The light from the flame hurt my eyes but I continued to stare at it. For some reason the pool of wax felt like my life. I guess it felt this way because nothing was certain anymore, nothing was set in stone. Who knows though. That’s just what I figured. That’s the easiest thing I could come up with. I blew the candle out and went back to sleep.
I woke up again just before noon and dragged myself to the shower. I let the water run over my head for thirty minutes until the heaviness went out of my skull and my body woke up.
If you’re self-conscious about your body, take a bath. You may not have done so in a long time. If you’re feeling strange about getting older and the thing you once saw in the mirror is now something plucked from the future and implanted here, take a bath. Remember when you took baths as a child? Maybe mother had stopped bathing you and let you do it yourself. That’s where your memories begin. Let yourself slip into the hot water again. Your body won’t fit so amiably anymore, but it will fit. Take a bath.
And then, think of someone you know. Not a person you’ve been to bedlam and back with. Someone you only know the outside of. Maybe someone you’d like to know better. Someone you trust but don’t know why. Someone who shows it in their eyes.
Think of the conversation you’d have with them while they watch you bathe. They could sit on the counter or even crossed-legged on the closed toilet seat. Let them see you soaking in the water and feel no shame, no sheepish, inner cowering. Let everything be as it is, calmed by the warmth of water and the salts – menthol – eucalyptus – lavender – citrus.
What would you talk about? Take a bath and think about it. Play it out in your head as you peer down across the surface of the water toward your feet. Let them darken the doorway to the bathroom and then let them enter.
“I will go out tomorrow and make money. There will be no excuses anymore. There will be no procrastinating. Money must come in. That’s the way the world works. The reason I’m writing this is to try to instill a new principle in my mind. It’s a type of meditation. I will go out and earn money tomorrow. I will go out and work any way I can. The amount I make may not be much, but it will be something. I will wake up in the morning. I will try to think of nothing except getting out of the house. I will not dwell on ideas or philosophical questions. I will not find reasons why putting off work is acceptable. The weather will have no effect on me leaving the house. If I feel a sniffle, I will ignore it. I will go out and earn.“
As easy as it seems to make money these days, I can’t find the path to it. I know I despise money. I know it’s ruined everything. I can only assume that this abhorrence is working on a subconscious level. I know the requirements of modern life and that we all have to work to stay afloat. It’s that endless trap that tethers us to the commercial function of society. I’m asking myself to accept the role and get on with earning so that the future is not so worrisome. The lack of income now is boxing my future in and thus limiting my present options. But I allow this to happen and must think around it.
Think only of the day. Tomorrow is the day and the money earned will only be tomorrow’s money. Don’t allow tomorrow’s earnings to transgress beyond the hours allotted for tomorrow. After it’s earned, leave it alone and forget. You must, as another tomorrow will be waiting for you. The sun will bring it back home to the east. You will not get another chance.