Monday, April 24, 2006

Open Sky

So I was starting to sink into it (starting? I spent the whole morning in it.) But I pushed back from my desk at 1:30. Watch the dread. One long breath. Watch the breath.

So I drove to lunch, and talked to myself, saying, "Look, the point is not to replace this ghost of my self with a more appealing ghost. The point is to exorcize the whole damn lot of them. They're all made up; they're all stories. It doesn't matter. It never mattered. There's nothing to be afraid of.

"I just want to get out under the open sky," I said. The trick is, that the habits run so strong, so strong. Not because the ghosts are real. More because they're not. You really think you want to be out under the open sky? (I was sitting at a formica table at the time. "Sky" was a blue rectangle of light, safely behind plate-glass.)

Blood drummed in my temples. But I drove back and began to work. I'm terrified. Have I always been this afraid?

I think so, really. It comes and goes, of course. There's pride and vanity, which take their turns too. But they're made of the same stuff, woven out of the same terror. It's at times like this I wish I were a Christian. They're cleverer really about terror than we are. The heaven of childhood, a punishing father, a mother who intercedes -- that's the imagery appropriate to my condition. Buddhists pretend to be adults all the time.

Drums. The rattle and moan of huge drums. The thunder of the blue sky. Phantoms in the hills.

"I just want to get out under the open sky," I said, but that was when I was picturing the sky as empty. Now it's full of presences. It's always that way; there's terrors behind the terrors. As in a really clever horror movie. The way out turns into the trap.

But. I've run away long enough. I know where running takes me. Nowhere. It's not that I'm going to take a brave stand. I'm simply out of room to run.

That's one way of putting it, shrill and panicky. I can also shrug, and the waves rush away from my mountainous shoulders and sweep the land clean -- phantoms and spirits go tumbling in the surge; the solid ground shivers; stars are jarred from the sky, and fall like snow. That happens too. It can even happen at the same time.

These are more ghosts, of course. Time to go outside again, under that strange sky. Does it ever end?

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