I know you. I know you well, almost as well as I know the back of my hand, or how my tongue knows the edges of my teeth.
You are the lone tear that rolls down my cheek without warning. You are the characters I create to escape my bleary present. In fact, you are all my characters fused into a grey nebulous mass at the back of my mind. You are their voice, their story, their tragedy, their laughter, their strength. I know you; I created you. I know your purpose. I know your beginning. I know your reason to exist.
I wanted no part in your creation. But I had no say in it. And now look, you are no longer a wisp of thought, a broken consciousness. You are a tumor, little grey one.
Now I know. Finally I understand. I will be the first to go. I will go first, so that you survive, so that you outlive me. Not because I want a part of me to stay behind, but because you shall have meaning. Because when you end me, you shall break free.
In the crudest sense of the word, I’m a bucket.
Born as an empty shell, I’ve been collecting pearls all my life. Pearls of wisdom. Dripping ink and blood-stained words. Screaming orgasms and the charred remains of dark, gruesome, incestuous fantasies. Moss-covered memories dipped in snow, sore joints and ashes strewn on mountain slopes. But the bucket is not nearly close to full. I could fit the universe in there. I could hold a galaxy suspended in the cold dregs of coffee swirling at the bottom of the bucket.
There was a second that blew past the slow pace of a fast life – a second in which wants vanished, love faded, wounds healed and space folded unto itself as a smooth, unending expanse of all existence. In that second, the bucket tipped over and emptied itself, to be reborn as an empty shell again. I’m in my infancy, there is no meaning to purpose, existence; even meaning has no meaning. I’m empty and open wide, blown with the wind, moved by a silent whisper and infused with a melody that threatens to fill me to the brim and overflow my entire being.
One moment you’re overly conscious of your existence, painfully aware of each rasping breath you take after smoking too many cigarettes, the silent assimilation of energy inside your core, the relentless exploration of every inch of your mind like the impatient, hungry tongue of a lover snaking into your mouth. The next moment you’re fleeing down the highway with your headlight buddies – joyful, fleeting, racing, dancing, snowballing, zooming into the welcoming darkness, the end of the tunnel, the eternally evasive shadow, the very purpose of your existence.
And here I am, lost within the madness of it all. I’ve begun writing poetry and composing songs in my sleep that are beyond beautiful, and which I cannot recollect when my transcendent presence ends and the corporeal one begins. And still I persist, bound ever so strongly and grappling with the half of me that belongs in the otherworld, haunted by the daunting lights blinking to glory at dusk and the spirits beckoning me with promises of peace.
I ate a burger today. Immediately after, I wanted to shit it out.
I listened to strangers yak about bullshit until my ears began to burn. I needed to vomit the poison I had injected.
I went for a run until sweat dripped from every pore.
It wasn’t enough.
I wanted to cut myself and watch the blood trickle from unsuspecting veins.
I wanted to reach inside my throat and turn myself inside out. I wanted my guts to spill out in a heap on the side of the road.
Instead, I expelled words.
The frivolity of death has always bewildered me.
Sometimes I feel close to it. I sense it around me, slowly inching forwards. I hear it inside my own beating heart and in the hopes and dreams of the people I love. Some nights when I can’t sleep, I can see it hovering, lingering, lurking in the shadows that dance on the walls, whispering with the moonlight. I dive inside a blanket, shut my eyes tightly and plug my fingers in my ears but now there is a loud ringing in my ears, the shadows on the wall are dancing on the canvas of my mind and death is suddenly a spiraling loop of the faces of my loved ones, creeping closer every day.
Sometimes I see it in the vastness of the ocean, an endless, bottomless life form that breathes and recedes, exhales and flows and engulfs our dead. The living seem as dead as the dying, and it pains to see precious lives die a little more with each nightfall.
And yet I’ve known a few moments, when life pushes me to the brink, right at the edge, the closest I could get to the stairway to heaven, and I do not even think about death; I simply live. I know it when I make heady, passionate love. I feel it in the thin air at the top of the mountain. I welcome it when I take a hit, smoke a joint, piss in the wind, howl at the moon, succumb to the highs and soar among the clouds. I can sense life in the trickles of water that drip down my skin after a dive. I can taste it in my nostalgia as I summon memories of sunshine, laughter and friendship.
It mesmerizes me, amazes me and drowns me. I am befuddled, still, at the transience of life. After all our struggles, ups and downs, hits and misses, what remains is the absurd frivolity of life and death.
There are times when I envy people their happiness, their joyous lives, pain free, carefree; superficial and shallow, perhaps lacking substance, yet happy. I sit at cafés, alternating between hope, despair, exuberant bliss, pessimism, sudden highs – wind through my hair, night lights, rings of smoke – and then I look at other tables, people laughing, eating, talking about mundane incidents from a mundane life, and it all comes crashing down near my ears, like waves crashing on a shore at high tide. I envy their normalcy, their ability to take life and just live it, without struggling to find answers for questions which have no answers – the reason for our existence, the meaning of love, an escape from the dry monotony dragging us by. Suddenly, I haven’t the slightest idea what I am doing there in that café in the midst of happy faces, so I overdose on caffeine and blow smoke on their faces, silently cursing them for having most of it together. I wish to be free of this eternal struggle with myself, the endless moralizing, philosophizing, rationalizing, and bouts of utterly bleak despair. Everything seems bleak. Get me out of here.
Last night I had sex with a stranger. I don’t remember who, but it definitely wasn’t you. I don’t remember the details clearly, it was just a dream. Just a dream that ended in a scream. I woke up feeling guilty, that you might think it was cheating. Blurry dream images flash before my eyes in a swirling mix of alcohol and lies. And the dream started fading into the distance, dissolving into the blackness within.
Early morning streaking sunlight; blushing memories of last night. Your lips crushing mine, suddenly demanding; your hands in my hair, roughly commanding; and me surrendering to your urgency, willingly obeying. We tease pleasure and pain’s fine line; but you only find your pleasure in mine. Memories, more real than the rapidly dissolving dream. Memories can be held in the palm of your hand; dreams become lost time, sifting through the hourglass like fine grains of sand.
We can surrender body and mind, a consciousness, a waking life. But dream is destiny, they say; waking or dreaming, life’s in disarray; I wonder what remains at the end of day? Is it memories that come to stay… or haunting dreams that won’t go away?