Sunday, June 08, 2014

Half in Light

Night after night without sleep. Morally certain that two or three good night's sleep would make the swelling in my knee go away; morally certain that it will never, never happen. Macbeth hath murdered sleep. Some animal in my brain, who lurks above the amygdala, but not far above, tells me dispassionately, with great conviction, that I will never sleep until I am well; and that I will never be well until I sleep. Fair enough. Stories of inflammation and toxins flicker through my mind; but I can't bring said mind to bear long enough, and steadily enough, to deal with them rationally. I only note, in passing, my psychological susceptibility to them. I feel poisoned. So do we all. That doesn't make us poisoned: not, at any rate, in body.

Immense weariness. I tell myself I've made up my mind, I've decided, my life is not of a piece and it never will be. Stop chasing the will o' the wisp of health, of integrity, of wholeness! Just give it up. Live half in light and half in shadow. But I haven't made up my mind. I can't. Anything that looks even remotely like wholeness draws my eye, irresistibly. And in the meantime the years sift away. I used to be able to fake having something to offer: but now I am truly, obviously bankrupt. All this looks different in a middle-aged man: it will look even more different in a dying one.

I know, I have friends – or I used to have friends – who would label this as guilt, a morbid condition of self-disesteem: but I do not feel guilty at all. On the contrary, I feel exasperated and put-upon. Will no one stick to the damned point? The old stories are useless now. We are in a different country.

The one way forward seems to be in making. I don't believe that crap about artists being unacknowledged legislators. God help you if you take your laws from artists: I've known too many of them, and we're a sorry lot: we don't know a damn thing. It's not that I'll make an answer. Not even that I'll find an answer in the making. But making is the one thing that feels untainted, that feels free of the poison and the wheel. It is the one thing I can do. Craft: the right line in exactly the right place: that is as satisfying as ever. I will fashion things so beautiful they'll make the heart catch. And be damned to wholeness. There is not that much time: there was never that much time.


NokoRose said...

I've seen so many people I care deeply about immersed in the indignities of the body in the last few weeks, the clear high note of your desire for the heart catching line rings through and reminds me that beauty can help make suffering bearable.

Sabine said...

There are days - and more often, nights - when I think that I can see it all clearly now.
At last!
Because it's all a misunderstanding, whoever sold us this idea of wellness, of integrity was having us on.
We have been trapped in the wrong idea of it and while we bang about it not being fair (at least that's what I do at times), we are missing the real thing.

I like to think that I have snatched a tiny glimpse of that one here and there but don't quote me.

Look after that knee my friend!

Zhoen said...

Melatonin and a good therapist. Really. Not saying a word more, because lack of sleep is like too much alcohol, trying to reason with a drunk is useless.

Dale said...

I think melatonin is mostly useful for people who have trouble falling asleep at night, isn't it? I fall asleep easily enough.

NT said...

Making is salvation. Or at least all the salvation I'm likely to get.

mm said...


Nance said...

I've stumbled (quite literally) into the healing power of making just in time. I hope.

Kristen Burkholder said...

"These are the only genuine ideas, the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce." - Jose Ortega y Gasset

Bless your honesty and struggle. We are wounded: there is a wholeness to this but it's alien, and when we cannot sleep (my rest is fitful at best, even with melatonin & Calms Forte and a million other potions) our good humor is lost.

Thankfully your writing is not lost. I am encouraged. My twisted spine has been injured in the past 2 weeks and I seize up in all kinds of places, reliant on ice and ibuprofen. Broken, limping, dying, we still have much to give. Thanks for giving to all of us with your words and your making.