so. some backstory. i was institutionalized at a facility in north carolina for two months and change. it hurt in a lot of good ways. a lot of bad ways. helped in a lot of straight-forward ways too. the point is that i had time to write. this is the stuff i wrote that wasn't for another project. it's only slightly edited- even the italics are just where underlines were. there were other things i wrote, but i don't think they fit. consider this part one of my apology for my absence, if you like. enjoy.
[04-04 | ??:??]
if a tree falls in the woods, yet nobody hears its collapse, did it ever really fall?
the scenario posed here intrigues me. picture an oak, hardy and strong, this pillar that raises itself above the forest floor. it looks so sturdy, so stable. you can’t imagine it falling, not on its own. tornados, hurricanes, fires, floods, or even the axe of man- these could all fell it, given time and strength. yet none of these come. yes, the oak has seen them before, knows it may see them again- will see them again, given time.
but it isn’t given time. maybe the soil erodes around it. maybe its rings, numerous as they were, had been eaten out from within, leaving only bark. or maybe, just maybe, it simply knew it was its time to fall, and so it did. we can’t know. we’ll never know.
[04-06 | 21:00?]
it struck me today that i’ve not been dealing with depression. or, rather, it struck me that i’d been dealing with something new instead- i was pretty certain i hadn’t been lounging in anguish for nine days just because of some sort of renewed depressive conversation. no, it hit me today that i’ve been fuckin’ grieving.
now, i think there are two possible responses here, and they boil down pretty simply:
“Grieving over what, asshole?” | “Well duh, dipshit.”
right. so. i’d like to extend a middle finger to both members of the crowd, because such rude language is TOTALLY unacceptable and beneath me.
but they’re also kind of right. for nine days, two hundred and sixteen hours, i’ve been fuckin’ grieving over people who aren’t even dead, who aren’t even GONE, not forever anyway. but i miss them, i miss them so dearly to the point where the thought i just had nearly made me throw up.
if this is grief, grief over temporary distance without a true break in communication, and assuming those feelings are as strong both ways…
can you imagine death? for me or for them. can you imagine the grief, the misery, the endless despair of loss with an impossible resolution? i can imagine it. i am imagining it, as i write this now, and it makes me want to throw up. it almost makes me hate myself again, hate myself on behalf of the other people in my life, the people who’d be too busy loving me to hate me when i’m gone. it makes me shake, literally shake as i write, it makes me struggle for words, for thoughts, it makes my attempt to stall to grant myself time to conclude a futile one, yet here i am.
putting the pen to paper.
i don’t remember how this was originally going to end. i now find myself wanting to promise, or threaten, or take any sort of action on this fear. i do know though, now for certain, that there’s merit in the masochism. there shouldn’t be, it’s unspeakable how much i hate that truth, but it remains nonetheless. had i not been cut off, not left to hurt as i’d considered inflicting, would i have known?
i don’t think so, and that terrifies me.
[04-13 | 17:44]
I know what I want. I want to be that girl, that woman standing still under less-than-ample cover in the pouring rain. I want her aching back, her tired eyes, her shaky, labored breath. I want the bus to be late, delayed thirty minutes. I want her to be nervous that it’s not coming. I want her to know there’s another day of this tomorrow. Maybe the day after, too.
You might be thinking that that sounds awful. An unredeemable experience.
It does sound awful. But that woman, that woman who should be me knows for certain that no matter how awful that day is, it soon will be was, and it’ll be past. She knows that today might be awful, might be the worst she’s had in a while. But. She also knows the day’s struggle is mostly over. She also knows, or at least is pretty damn sure, that this’ll stay that worst day this week, month. Maybe year.
Maybe she’s checked the forecast tomorrow and it’s clear. Maybe she’s got the weekend off. Maybe a dinner date this Thursday. A good book to read getting out of the shower, roommates to give her space when she needs it and to take it when she needs that too, family only a call away, ritual, security.
Maybe not even any of that.
But I do know that if that day, that day’s journey is the worst in a while- things must be pretty damn stable otherwise. And I want that. I want what she has. The soaked hair, the dead phone, the rumbling stomach, the dry mouth. I want it. I want it so I can have the rest.
[04-14 | 18:10]
Sometimes, I’ll look at my hand, my arm, my leg- some part of me, and think “that doesn’t look like me.” It’s mine, sure, there’s nobody else who could possibly have it, but it doesn’t look like mine. Today, though, the thought occurred to me: What arm would? What leg, what hand, what body would, could even look like what mine “should?” What do I even want from it? Do I want anything at all? Is there any point to wanting when any change, any growth, removal, modification, marking demands the only currency, time? Time I’ll spend anyway, sitting, waiting, letting it get spent? I don’t know. Would finding the answer even help me? What good is another want, what is it worth? Nothing really, except a promise of gratification that very well may not be upheld. An investment, that’s what wanting is, and I’ve made enough poor financial decisions.
[04-18 | 18:14]
how to know if i’m the fox? that fickle fox, frustrated in her failed attempts to gather her grapes. i can’t even try, so how easy it must be for me to dismiss them. even when my stomach rumbles, my mouth waters… when my meager form is meters, maybe miles from the tree, let alone the branch, how natural it could feel, must feel, must BE feeling, there’s not a tense for it in English but it’s there, linguistics a barrier as they always are when I describe something i feel without feeling. I don’t think the grapes are sour, I don’t dismiss them, but my mind does, the inner me, she drives my eager head from below the branches, she puts one paw in front of another as we trot away, convinced what we cannot have is that which we never needed. what scares me most is the orchard behind, with countless branches i once deemed with such confidence to be sour.
[05-19 | 14:45?]
i could use some more patience. patience and stability. things are still up in the air right now, and while over the past few days they’ve at the very least re-entered the stratosphere, i’d much prefer them sitting a few kilometers lower. i’m finding myself doing the emotional equivalent of staring straight up at the sky, arms open wide, when nine point eight meters per second per second really only applies literally without air resistance. someone should tell my soma about terminal velocity. maybe then i could sit down, take a deep breath, and lie down in the grass. collision isn’t imminent just yet. nobody needs to deploy the parachute. all there is to do is fall and smell the roses.
[05-21 | 12:48]
been thinking about dialectics. wanting, or craving, causes suffering; but so too do they cause joy. it’s not a simple dichotomy, that- to want is not to have, but to want without having causes suffering. i think that craving being the source of suffering and wanting being the source of joy are only oppositional statements if one uses the colloquial definition of “want-” to seek that which one does not have. wanting is only just that- to want something. to derive joy- past, present, hypothetical- from something, someplace, someone. “i want to breathe” carries with it the implication that one is not breathing- why? we can say we want things we have when their availability is called into question (ex: “i want to stay here, i want to keep working) which is really just saying we want what we have. to summarize: when we frame wanting as a concept in linguistic isolation, it suddenly becomes clear how much we knowingly want. people want their homes. their families. their heirlooms. from these things, from wanting them, we derive happiness.
so. the immediate conclusion one might draw from this is that wanting only what one has brings happiness, and wanting that which we don’t have- craving- draws suffering. best i can tell, (a phrase that asks of you more than just a grain of salt) that’s the buddhist interpretation, minus the understanding that that which we want that is not fundamentally necessary for life is superfluous. the last bit is where i disagree. it’s often not lacking these things that can invite suffering but instead losing them- and yes i know that’s still in line with the buddhist understanding, but the difference is that the blame lies not in the things we have but the forces that may take them from us. furthermore, there is much that many deem vital, literally a human right, that (thanks mostly to the thousands of years between the present and buddhism’s inception) causes suffering when one is removed from it! those things beyond sleep, shelter, sustenance- many need them! to be starved of connection, of satisfaction, of all or any of those layers of maslow’s pyramid- that’s still starvation! you can’t be without need when you only have the bottom! sure, the need may not be proportional, and perhaps in the eyes of some that danger of loss cancels out the desire to climb. maybe, to many, it’s easy to rest at the top of the pyramid and the bottom, for with little room to fall there is little room to suffer.
that fucking sucks, though. happiness is to climb and to receive. who gives a shit if from afar if the task is sisyphean- we who push the boulder feel our blood pumping, our muscles working, the endorphins flowing. our boulder may eventually roll right back down past those who wait below, but we may rest at the top as long as we like. happiness is effort, desire, change, movement, momentum. to push a boulder fifty feet and have it slide back forty-nine is still to have moved a boulder a foot. those who wish to sit at the base and watch us work may do so. i’m going to push that damn rock.
[05-22 | 13:50?]
the world’s edge
foothills into anthills.
boulders into dust.
the edge sits not here, on this cliff, but there. fifteen inches, fifty miles away.
past that fog, that forcefield,
an ocean rests.
trees like foam
mountains like waves
beyond it all, a waterfall must rest.
the view looks to me to be a screen. i know for certain it’s not- i’ve seen those tunnels, those towers. but the blue of the ridges meets the blue of the sky in a perfect queer marriage, pushing into each other.
i love you, they say.
in your clouds, your trees, i see myself.
i see you too.
i’ll be good to you.
i’ll never leave.
there is so much beauty beyond the sight. swirls of sound, spikes of sensation, spears of smell.
there is not beauty without these. not in the same way.
photographs may contain a thousand words, but they are literal. this is here. that is there. nothing more, nothing less between those bounds. they tell gentle lies in that way. lies to feel wanted, to feel complete.
i don’t hate them for that deception. i just want to know, to see, to say what more there is to see without my eyes. to take what defies description and give it away. just a piece, an infinitesimal fraction. to say here’s what you’re missing. to tell you to come join me.
[05-23 | 10:35]
uncentered in time, in place. restrained by the hours, strangled by the weeks, torn by the miles. pulled forward, glued still. movement in only the fourth dimension.
an impossible problem.
i don’t know if
humans were meant
to experience time
it feels as though
once, long ago, we
were happy to,
in our temporal
eden- but, as humans
do, we spent it.
bit the apple.
now we move onwards, forwards, at the cost of all that we’ve left behind.
i thought about life being palindromic, then backwards. maybe life is a story with the arc turned around, our unhappy ending behind us. after the paradise lost we find paradise regained, held as though it always was. the denouement devours us now, i think, hoping our story can’t continue, that we can’t push through the third act to the second. the climax lies ahead, premature, unsatisfying. the buildup to it will be better. foreplay as aftercare. adolescence as retirement. first we work, then we grow, carefree.
in reverse, we are born of stillness (not stillborn, though that’s up for debate) and consumed by fire, water, earth, air. forward, we are forged in crisis, and we peter out, forgoing industry for illiteracy, farmland for foraging, speech for sound. a gentle death, calm, rocked into sleep by earth. forward, she forgives- backward, she is betrayed.
if it’s true, though, that it’s a palindrome, a story all the same, then we are destined for whence we came. deconstruction, not destruction- gentle slopes to gentler sleep.
that's that. in retrospect, this all looks like almost nothing. two months to write poetry and prose and this is all i have to show for it? it's not, i've written, you know, thousands of other words on paper, but those belong elsewhere. the real poetic bounty in my time there is yet to be seen, though- it lies in the experience, the growth, the knowledge. not that being locked away from my friends and family was a great thing or anything, but two months to think does a lot to a girl. anyway. hope you enjoyed.