What if every time you are early to something, you are late to another?
That there is a scale keeping track, so every time you arrive early to work, you will be late for lunch? When you show up early for a wedding, you’ll be late to realize a love?
All so at the end of everything, you’re right on time for it all?
It is an odd notion, I know. And if it were true, how is it accomplished? Do little gnomes and goblins run around strategically sabotaging you after fairies and woodland spirits magically whisked you towards your earlier destination? Or do they all collaborate, gnomes and fairies alike, in making you late next time after you alone managed to be ten minutes early just so you could grab a coffee?
Furthermore, why would the universe be so concerned that by the end of everything, it’s all balanced out, so you arrive “on time”? Especially when “time”, so I’ve been told, is relative? And if that is indeed the case, what exactly is “on time”?
Now you may be wondering, “what brought all this about?”
You see, I’ve encountered what seems to be a gremlin, quietly removing my wallet from my breast pocket as I stepped out the door. It was most peculiar, finding myself squishing a living being between my hand and chest, when all I had intended was a reassuring pat of my wallet. It may be typical for some people to find little creatures scurrying about their pockets, but not me.
At first I thought the little gentleman – or lady, I’m not quite sure about such gremlin matters – to be after only my money. As I was in a hurry, I told him – or her – that stealing really isn’t something one should do generally, and placed him – or her – on the fence post while walking out and closing the front gate. Some of you may be thinking it cruel of me to place such a small, wingless creature on such a comparatively high place, but as she – or he – managed to attain my breast pocket without my detection, a simple picket fence seemed hardly an insurmountable challenge.
Excerpt from a story in progress.
Taken from a 2014 journal entry:
This morning I had a dream. My back yard was full of translucent water on a warm, cloudless day. Myself and others were floating in the water, my little dog on a tiny inflatable, a few friends, all laughing away. As I meandered, sloshed along by the nuzzling waves created by their play, I looked to the house behind me.
It’s supposed to be different than this. I’m supposed to be cleaning out my parents’ house, my childhood home, years from now, after I have my own home to bring my share of things. I’m supposed to have siblings to divvy it all with, making the amount more bearable as we fight over this knick knack and that. Reminding each other of forgotten memories, laughing at shared ones.
Finding closure with each one, giving each piece its proper respect, before getting packed away again, for another attic, a garbage dump, a charity. Some items make their way onto descendants’ mantles or living room tables, but how is that supposed to work for me?
This is my only home. Am I supposed to change it all, like dad had done when my mom passed, erasing her touch and memory? Am I to do that to my father too, stating seeing it all is ‘too much’? I’m sure I’m supposed to change things some, but how much or little I don’t know. And there is so much; how am I supposed to find closure, when my clouded mind is the only one holding memories? How many pieces full of happiness will go without last rites, because I can’t remember? I’m supposed to have a place to come back to, a place where my parents keep my cherished rubbish begrudgingly, tucked away for when I settle down and find my home. I’m supposed to have to come back years from now, struggling over whether the childhood home should be sold right away, or if I should move back.
In the end I will not be able to do the things I knew I was supposed to do. But in its own way, that is a sort of freedom.
Staring at nothing, she embraced the afternoon sunlight, warming through the opaque drapes.
She had nothing to do today, a cold having cancelled all plans.
Her body lounged under the covers, mind wandering the empty time the cold created.
She was always in a hurry lately, even when knowing there was reason why.
What could she do to fill the time today? The time to cook dinner was still some ways away.
She should do something, maybe from one of the To Do lists, but which one?
Her heart meandered through her sifting corridors, looking for a project to commit some time.
It was in that moment I realized all I was doing was waiting to die.
She dutifully filled each grain with something, giving them weight and supposed meaning, as they lined down orderly through the molded glass.
I had thought she was obtaining, constantly rushing, planning, efficiently maximizing the use of each time.
But as I lay there, my day bereft of pre-constructed allotments of work, friends, self and other, I noticed my heart doesn’t care for time.
Its treasures are passion, epics, standing victorious on top of seemingly unreachable heights.
To not fill, but strive.
A creation of perceptions
Is this inner world.
When confronted that one
of these perceptions is
In fact a misconception
causes a Crack.
Greater the misconception, larger the
As it grows the more the Spider Web
Assails across the sky
other perceptions cracked into questioning
Misapprehension materializing reality
Allowing gravity pull over unbelieving clouds guiding your
inner world to meet the ground.
Watching it descend
you race to catch it
But a moment too late
and unable to stop
your would-be world.
Its remains now
in the sneaker of your soul.
your world had no
Idea it was even
Falling the only feeling the
Sky suddenly darkening as
You kept walking until a
Crunch beneath your feet
Brought closer Inspection, finding a
Shattered world about the
Ground oddly similar to
I do not understand.
I do not understand the purpose of my continued existence outside the scope of the expectations and obligations laid upon me by those around me. By the Self that has developed from those interactions and expectations. Always there, weighing on me. I want to run unburdened, without feeling guilty. I’m not sure how this is done though, the Self keeping my capricious thoughts in check.
I’ve worn many hats, picked out for me by others. I am fond of quite a few, and remember to brandish each gifted hat for its corresponding giver’s pleasure. Yes, I do indeed look stunning in the Good Daughter, the Innocent Maiden, the Respectful One, the Confidant One, The Silly Friend, the Wise Beyond Her Years, the Happy Go Lucky Kid, the Smart One, the Sarcastic One, the Agreeable One, the Hard Worker, the Sensible Adult.
It only makes sense such a woman will do the right thing and move to family, be grateful for a shot at a big company, buckle down and secure a “future”.
Yes yes, she likes the arts and to ponder things, but that isn’t very pragmatic of her, and she knows it. She’ll take off that Happy Go Lucky hat as soon as I give her a quick reminder the Hard Worker and Agreeable One suit her far better. Of course I only want her to do what she wants, but this is the best option.
No, this is the best option, she doesn’t wear those hats only for you, you know.
Actually this is the best option for her, how could you others not see it?
Siobhan, you should do this.
But I do not want to fold to the pressures “offered” to me, in the forms of advice and knowing stares. I struggle with the separation of them and me, of the artificial Self and me. For which person do I put on this hat? And who’s to say the created Self isn’t now me? 27 years is plenty of time to meld.
In 1637, anguishing over his very existence and nearly going mad, Rene Descartes declared, “I think, therefore I am.”
And here I sit thinking, what comes after “I am”?
Create into Oblivion
When I was very young, I liked to imagine myself in grand stories, being spirited away, having meetings with heroes I idolized, and saving the day. And as I did this, and as these dreams failed to materialize – for I was never told by a mysterious shaman I was “the chosen one” to save the world, nor did I develop super powers or the ability to travel through time – I began fearing that by imagining a situation, I was also destroying it. That whatever I conjured in my head would not come to pass. This fear only became more frustrating when I began imagining more commonplace things as I grew, like how a conversation would go. For as soon as I shaped I knew it would never happen, for nothing in my memory had ever done differently.
Of course as adults we know that nothing unfolds exactly like we want or expect it to. We learn to understand there are far too many variables to consider, that it is out of our power to control a situation to such a severe degree. However, in my child’s mind any formulations I made directly influenced the future by destroying that potential happening. After I created, reveling in otherworldly adventures, came a sense of loss, sometimes very deep. At some point, I heard about turning weaknesses into strengths, and began using my “ability” to imagine away horrible scenarios into oblivion, all the while still imagining being transported to some different place.
When I was nine my mother told me she was “sick”. I was introduced to new concepts – “chemo” “malignant” “benign”. In my little make believe worlds, “Coming back with a cure” from wherever place I had managed to venture became a new staple in my creations, in spite of my fear of destroying. I felt bad, leaving her here, suffering, while I gallivanted around other worlds and times, and so I reconciled that feeling with the assurance I would bring back a fix at the end of it all. Surely some otherworldly doctor would know the remedy.
But I could never bring myself to create away her death, because how could I possibly imagine a life without my mother? As more time passed, I recognized my “ability” as a child’s misconception. But I would be lying to deny the thought has always lingered in dusty corners, innocuous, coming forth when I am presented with something wholly out of my control. My mental equivalent of a safety blanket or teddy bear.
After she died, scenarios I formulated still did not come to pass, but why would they. My fantasies are no longer plagued by the fear of their demise while they are created, though there is still a small sense of loss. As an adult, I’ve learned to guesstimate how situations will transpire instead of worrying over every detail. But guesstimation isn’t the same as creation, more accurately it is the adult substitution of creation; for we understand our dreams are not the same as reality.
To that point, I’ve guesstimated many times how my dad will die. I would not be caught off guard like I was my mom. But I never imagined he would get ‘cancer’ too.
It struck me the same way my mother dying did. A giant wall of impermeable white. White nothingness everywhere.
Why hadn’t I imagined he would get ‘cancer’ too? Because it simply wasn’t possible. I was going to get a call one day saying a car hit him. That was possible. I would one day come home to him dead on the floor from a heart attack. That was possible. He was going to outlive all his siblings because he lived his life the hardest so of course he would, the universe has a sense of humor. That was most probable.
Why is it what ends up happening is never what I imagined?
Did I destroy too many of the other possibilities? Leaving ‘cancer’ to take the prize?
I don’t want to imagine anymore. I’m afraid to imagine any more.
Which brings me to my current condition. A ‘young adult’ unwilling to guesstimate or imagine. But before one can “cope”, one must “imagine” coping. Without coping, one cannot properly appreciate a situation and act. Instead is a giant, blank, white wall.