“You write because you turn sadness into funny,” said the dream gods last night.
Thank you. Thank you for that. I had gotten so PMS-y that I had turned into the worst kind of negative blockage—the blasé blockage. “I just don’t want to do anything, I don’t care about anything,” says the voice of apathy. That voice is the most dreadful creeper of slime I’ve yet encountered. If I’m furious and mad, I can rebel. If I’m distraught and in pain, I can rally from the passion of it all. But anytime I feel as though “I don’t care,” I know that I’ve put too much distance between me and my source; I’ve swaddled myself in too many layers of cotton to be able to thrash about freely. Apathy is when I’ve anesthesized myself, but looked away from all of the needles.
I would rather swoon from the sight of my deadening. Or perhaps not become numb in the first place: Isn’t it better to hydrate on one’s tears than to be dry…and thirsty? To take it further, isn’t it better to have an open heart that could occasionally get hurt than a closed one that grows smaller through disuse?
They say that like attracts like. If we are able to feel the depths of despair or sadness, then we are also building in ourselves the capacity for light and love—and the two measures are alike in their closeness to the heart. When I wall off those feelings of inadequacy, or don’t look at them and deal with them directly, I am also cultivating indifference to joy. When I was pregnant, in Lamaze class, we practiced dealing with pain by holding an ice cube. I was told to ignore the bite of that pain, become uninterested and unresponsive to that freezing burn. To me, this was impossible. Instead, I much preferred to dive down deep into the experience, to welcome the pain and let it wash over me. During labor, I rode the waves of my contractions, breathed down into their very core and found the bottom. Then I pushed up off the sandy floor and rose through to emerge on the other side.
Pain has depth. Pain has numinosity—it arouses spiritual emotion and is awe-inspiring. Pain and terror often overwhelm “those who have come, too suddenly, face to face with some manifestation of the mysterium tremendum. In theological language, this fear is due to the incompatibility between man’s egotism and the divine purity, between man’s self-aggravated separateness and the infinity of God.” (Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception.) We feel pain because we are human, because we are always wondering and longing for the deeper meaning. Being human means we can change our position.
But apathy, apathy is a shallow pond. There’s not much to see with apathy, no places to go. It’s a one-horse town, an organism-breeding puddle. If I don’t care, I don’t have to feel. My plane will neither take off nor land, and the scenery remains the same because I have stopped seeing it for lack of concern, interest and enthusiasm. Me—I need a little needle of pain to get me motivated. I look to the injection site and pull back the skin. Because my apathy is just the surface; the real feeling is in the blood that pumps underneath. Everyone knows that blood brings healing. If I give it air, clean it, care for it, I’ll never have to reopen the wound.
They say that life fills a void. If I feel empty after I clean up my apathy, after I cry and flush it out, it’s because I have excavated the infection. If I have done my job, it will be a flushed, clean cache, ready to secretly store new valuables that I have yet to find. I know that out of dark places can come the greatest jewels. As a metaphor for that realization, I once dreamt my best friend and I were forcibly thrown down into a cave. I was unable to rescue us until I simply grew big and lifted her out. When she was safe, I cleaned and inventoried the crannies of my cache, finding a purplish green pearl in the corner. I found a treasure in the deepest corner of my prison.
If you are what you eat, then you are who you hang around with. I am only as good as my social milieu, and so I enjoy people who can be honest, kind and perceptive with me. I enjoy those who remember the simple pleasures (because of course, too much materialism and extravagance brings a blasé perspective.) I enjoy people who catch snowflakes on the tip of their tongue, make metaphors in their casual conversation, and are start new, exciting endeavors with courage and persistence.
This morning brings the third rejection letter in the last 24 hours. I feel disappointed, and I am a woman under the pressure of hormones… so I cry. I also watch the snowflakes fall outside my window—they are so lovely and beautiful. They land where they will, they fall because it is their fate and the earth is of no consequence to them. Following their lead, I must only write for myself, it does not matter where I land. Every word is a snowflake, a cold unique object that forms differently every birth. I catch each on my tongue and savor; they melt over my taste buds and sense like my tears. And then I laugh. Like the wind it blows the teary snowflakes into a different place. At least I care, at least there is breath for movement and momentum for journey. The snowflakes and the tears stop simultaneously and things are still and quiet.
I want my snowflakes to be thick, heavy with moisture and to fall lazily, with intention but slow. I want them to make an effect when they land, tasty like tears. I want the snowflakes to blur the reading to an internal sight, to fall onto the page and make an indelible impression on the warp of the paper, and the psyche.