I woke in the morning freezing and shut off the first alarm, my alarm, cuing Skyspook’s normal battery of snoozes.
It had flooded into my mind moments before I opened my eyelids as I shivered and stretched my legs. I’d been dreaming that I’d undergone brain surgery to rid me of my anxiety (a bit more pronounced lately since I’m graduating soon and entering a new phase where things are uncertain), only to find that not only did I not worry, but I had significantly reduced mental processing speed and had completely lost my ability to do math or spontaneously construct complex sentences with internal embedded clauses.
Basically, I’d been stripped of everything that makes me exhausting — to myself and others.
And yet, I wasn’t happy. I was untroubled, blank.
I wonder sometimes if I’d be happier if I edited out the complexities. Some days, it feels like I look around and see nothing but ambiguity and uncertainty, my view of the world fragmented like an insect’s kaleidoscope eyes.
I think of this especially when it comes to writing. My favorite works are opaque, slinky, and troubled. Fernando Pessoa’s Book of Disquietude, haunting false autobiography, comes readily to mind. I lost myself in that book at 22 and spent the weeks and months following its discovery inspired by the premise and allure of imagining another identity and delving in deep to see what resulted. A kind of literary shapeshifting. I found myself passionately writing Passing Through, a series of poems describing the final hallucinations of dying (made-up) Civil War soldiers. And I’m not into the Civil War, not really.
In those months, I developed a sort of illusory intimacy with my fictional subjects, one that was lacking in my romantic relationship at the time. My dying soldiers needed me to exist, and I needed them to survive.