Originally written Feb 23, 2007
Sometimes I daydream about horrible things. Usually while I’m waiting for the subway, during rush hour.
I think about getting accidentally shoved onto the track and losing my left hand. It makes me feel as if it might make life easier somehow. Do I want to lose my hand? No! My left hand is my career and my career is like my child! A part of me would die if I were to ever have my hand taken off by a train or anything else. I’d rather lose half my body or even my face than lose my left hand.
This morning in the subway I realized I fantasize about these things because, in a way, it would make sense of my struggle. All my life I’ve been struggling with God-knows-what (and He does), throughout a perfectly blessed and privileged, middle-class life. I’m perpetually fighting to push forward, but I can’t be sure of what it is I’m fighting or pushing so strenuously against. Nothing is “wrong”. …So why is everything wrong?
Why do I feel as if the air I’m trying to walk through is as thick as mud?
A constant, underlying Melancholy would make sense for an artist with no hands. What a poetically bitter existence that would be. Struggling through a life like that would make sense and no one would question my discontent. No one would tell me I’m ungrateful. (As it is, nobody does. I don’t recall having ever spoken of this before. But I do feel as if I’m being ungrateful. My life is incredible.)
I’m learning how to be content in all situations. I’m not yet there, but it’s something I grow in as I live. However, I’m not sure I’ll ever been content with Life. Not MY life, but Life as a whole — capital “L”, Life.
I think this feeling must be humanity, or at least “the human condition”. The struggle — the fighting — is against everything that’s wrong with the world; an endless dissatisfaction, having a distant recollection that this isn’t the way it was meant to be. What I’m pushing against is “why bad things happen to good people”. What I’m pushing against is “why a fine dog bites a nice child”.
Even in the ecstatic times, something in me is fighting against pain.
So, I don’t think I want to grow to be content with capital “L”, Life. I don’t want to grow desensitized to it. I won’t accept that this was the plan, because I’ve seen the blueprints and I know it wasn’t.
This feeling –this pang– could be the seed that could mutate into self-mutilation.
A person wants pain they can see.
I remember breaking up with a man and trying to make myself throw up (I never succeeded. Damn my repressed gag reflex!) I just wanted to know why and where in my body I felt so ill. I can’t locate heartache and it confuses me, deeply.
I’ve read about disorders where people become convinced they are supposed to be amputees and become so obsessed that they go as far as amputating themselves. Sometimes it’s for pity, but it’s often because they see amputees as valiant heroes — overcommers. In a way, I can understand that disorder.
I think those of us who aren’t already there, are just one sliver away from serious, debilitating dysfunctionality. All it takes is one little brain glitch to bridge the gap – one little spark from a couple crossed wires to make the difference between balanced and imbalanced. Sane and insane.
This was all just a fleeting, partially subconscious thought when I got onto the crowded subway car this morning, but now that I’ve spoken it out loud (in a way), it’s messed with my head a little and made me rather somber. I’ll likely not speak of it again, for fear that irony (who, in my mind, is a living, breathing, cruel and bored 30 year old man) will take advantage of the moment and have me hit by a train on the way home. I don’t really want that.
C.S. Lewis wrote, in a collection called “The Business of Heaven”,
“The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never sage, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”