There it is. Brewing in the corner of my eye: darkness that eats light whole. How long could it stay away? I light lamps everywhere, that’s what I’ve taught myself to do. It’s the only way I survive. But the dark always watches from beyond the boundary of my light, sitting at the edge of my laughter, waiting. It is a shrieking gale that comes time and again to blow the flames out. And at times I’m too tired to light the lamps all over again.
I’ve been enchanted by a magician’s trick, too focused on the diversion, on the distraction to see through the illusion. Now the trick becomes clearer, and I wake up from this drugged stupor I’ve been in, happy and high in my head. The withdrawal is acid. In my heart, in my gut, in my windpipe and in my sight.
If I am one of the lost, floating on these dark placid waters in my little dingy with the rest of these adrift souls, then I see more than I should to remain calm. I taste my purpose and don’t understand its flavour: like seeing a person you have loved your whole life and being unable to conjure up a drop of love for them. You know you should love them because you always have, and yet one day the love is dead and it has been dead so long, you didn’t even notice when it turned to dust and vanished.
I am appalled at how comfortable I am in the jaws of this staid, numb life. Afraid to rock the dingy, afraid to follow through on what I know makes me happy. Always the fear. Be brave, the magician told me once, as he pulled out the rabbit from his hat and handed it to me. I thought he intended it as a gift solely for me. But the rabbit was the diversion: a side road into the pretty countryside when the moon was at its beautiful best. For that one night, the world was lit silver and blue and my mind knew no other colour. But then came morning, bright and blazing and yellow, and I was suddenly reacquainted with the sun and how little I had done to reduce the distance between us. The sun no longer questioned me, I had silenced him long ago. He had been my dream and now he asked me for the first time in years, “What happened to you?”
When I whisper about this darkness to other lost souls they shush me. With fluttering hands and soothing murmurs they stroke my bruises. “Don’t think too much, here drink.” “Don’t worry too much, here smoke.” “Don’t be too much, here eat.” “Don’t say too much, here sleep.” For them tomorrow is a land of perpetual comfort. Today is just an off day, tomorrow will be good. But today, in this pain, I feel more awake, more alive than I have been in a long time. I don’t want pipe dreams. I want the jagged truth. Even if I cut myself holding it to my chest. I don’t want to wake up to a tomorrow that numbs me, that allows my mind to anaesthetise itself so I can go through the day without screaming out loud. I don’t want a tomorrow as much as I want a today.
And I don’t want a today as much as I want a now.