Amnesia

Sometimes it feels like I have amnesia. Maybe this is something all people feel. Whether existential condition or the result of Lyme fog (I haven’t mentioned that I was diagnosed with Lyme disease about 3 weeks ago) or even the peculiar effect of curiosity when one has been given anesthesia at some point, I feel like my body and soul have been separated, and I am running after it even though I no longer recognize my own heart, chasing what I do not know, always missing it in the reverberant brume.

Small blips of who I was rush past my face, like the lights of distant cars speeding through the warm, summer night, blurry and untouchable. I was — am? — a fragmented and solitary coward. Yet, somehow I have been so brave and seemingly together, seeking company. But I still feel the heart beat of a coward. And I miss being solitary, finding my best times alone instead of chasing the affection of other people who will never give it, whether by the hand of a friend or the lips of a lover. More, I know that although I feel whole, I am not, and I am all the more terrified that I cannot find the missing pieces, cannot find even the jagged edges where they would go.

Who am I? Am I who I have always been? Do I even want to remember?

Is it my fault? Who the hell do I want to be anyway? What am I trying to become? What am I running from? Have I been throwing away the pieces of me that I don’t love, that I don’t want, getting rid of myself to be what I think I have wanted to be? Maybe I just destroyed them, pulverized them into the clouds encircling me, tore out my own eyes so that I couldn’t see that I am still the things about me that I hate.

Could it all be mere happenstance? Was the me who went in for surgery the one who came out? Has Lyme destroyed the me that was, pushed it beyond my reach? Or do we all question who we are at times? Can my own writings from years past affirm that I am still me, the me that was, that grew and changed into the current me?

Now, it’s raining. But I don’t mind. Tears fertilize our heart ensuring they continue to grow. What will grow though? Who will tend the shoots? Protect them? Who would find that worthwhile? Would I even let someone, want someone to do so?

Where the heart was

You do not realize it until it has already happened. You have been living and struggling and fighting, so surely it must be there. With conviction and courage and strength, you have stormed forward, and, for all those reasons, you missed it. Not until things have finally quieted down, when the world has regained a whisper of quiescence, did you realize that you lost your heart.

In the tumult and clangor, you did not notice that your heart has been stolen. Not in the romantic sense, that your heart has merely been transposed to beat in the breast of another: no, you have been robbed, left destitute, cold and shivering and shaking; confused and lost and alone. You will only notice when you hurt someone else, someone you care about, because you stopped looking at them and started thinking about what was best for you, what would keep you safe and stop you from hurting.

You had never been in this place before. Maybe it makes sense that after 3 years of having to look out for what was best for you, in terms of your physical health, that it would creep into your soul. Health for the body, poison for the soul.

That could be said of most defense mechanisms. You build walls to guard your heart and force anyone brave enough to care about you to besiege them: any attempt to rescue you from your self-imposed starvation is turned into an offensive against your very being. No, you did not erect the walls to harm yourself but to protect you. In the end, your castles are your prisons, full only of your fetid, rotting heart.

So here in the midst of this castle, how do you get out? The same way you got into it I guess. Brick-by-brick. Bleed hands, scar over so that they will never forget the foolish coffin you forged around yourself.

Do not forget to look those you love, whom you hurt, in the eyes as you stacked the bricks in their face. Don’t forget that you chose to keep them out, to leave them on the outside. Forget, though, what they did to hurt you, to cause you to start stacking the bricks. You will have to forgive them to get some of those bricks down. Yes, whether they deserve that or not, you will have to let go if you want your heart to revive, to be free and alive. You do want that, right?

A Conversation with Death

‘Is that you, old friend? It has been almost a year. And here I thought you had forgotten about me.’

‘Yes, yes, you are very funny. You know that I am never far, whether you see me or not, acknowledge me or not, nearby to even those who deny my existence. So how have you been?’

‘Why ask when you already know? You said yourself that you are never far.”

“Haha. Of course, of course. Just a bit of decorum really. ‘

‘I would call you many things, Death, but polite you are not.’

‘Come now. No need for insults. Neither Time nor Death wait for anyone. It is just part of the job; there is no need to take such a thing so personally.’

‘When your job is my life, it is hard not to do so. Formalities aside, why are you here again? Come to talk once more or is our conversation to be ended?’

‘Only here to talk. For now. How have you forgotten again that your life isn’t the most important thing? How many times do I have to visit you and remind you of it?’

‘Tell me, Death, have you ever been sick? Has Death ever suffered? Are you even alive; have you ever been?’

‘I live in all people and have lived through all of them.’

‘But have you known what it is like to feel your own presence, to feel your skeletal fingers brush against your chest?’

‘No.”

‘Have you ever loved another? Known what it is to need to protect yourself, not for your own existence, for the sake of another?’

‘No.’

‘Then, do not lecture me on the need to guard my own life. I do not live for myself, but continue for those whom God has given me.’

‘God… Yes, He is terrifying enough to inspire such foolishness.’

‘You fear Him because He is your Death.’

‘I was being kind before. Shut your mouth or —’

‘—or you will kill me? You were wrong to say that Time and Death do not wait for anyone. You are still bound by your own end. You cannot touch me until God allows it.’

‘Insolent vermin… You will be one of my most cherished trophies someday.’

‘Until then, stay far from here. Your wisdom is your own for I assure you that Death knows nothing of the human heart except how to stop it.’

‘Such an ingrate. Just remember that I am always near… and I will be back again soon.’

‘And always too soon.’

A word

Yesterday, a friend of about 2 years told me that she loved me, and that she had for a long time. Funny, how when we have the most words to say the more likely it is for us to find ourselves unable to use them, as though they clot within our chest, choke the air from our throats, make us unable to vocalize any of them. Maybe all along I just never felt like someone would ever feel that way about me, felt that someone could feel that way about me.

I guess I thought that it would happen only once in my life, that when I found the one that she would be the only one who would ever see me like that. The strange part is that this girl is wonderful and attractive and intelligent, but she just isn’t the one and my heart has no doubts of it. Then, love is not some checklist to be ticked and, when complete, accepted.

Where does love dwell? Of what is it made? What separates love from friendship? A touch of the divine. There is contained within our desire for another a wink of the holy and sacred.

Love is indeed blind but not only in the sense of being unaware to the obvious. It does not look to the outside of a person. Love laughs at the body and blushes at the spirit. The untouchable, the intangible, the unseeable is made plain before the heart enthralled by love.

There is a peculiarity in this event though. No doubt I am rarely moved at all by physical attraction — though I am still human —, but this is the first time (that I know of) that someone I find physically attractive actually was interested in me. I guess what I mean is that my lack of interest in the better sex for purely physical reasons has never truly been tested until now, and, in truth, until such a moment, such a challenge presents itself, there is always a doubt that it is just empty, self-righteous bluster. I know in my heart that such doubts are unfounded, but there is no proof. Well, there wasn’t.

What is it worth though? A girl I care about is hurting because of how deeply she cares about me. What in the hell does it matter that I am not a shallow person when she hid it for so long because she knew that I didn’t feel the same way? I feel like such a fool that I didn’t notice sooner.

How do you fix something like this? Can you? You can say all the ‘right’ things, but it doesn’t change anything, does it?

Somehow, it still seems so surreal. I’ve never been on this side of things, and I guess it was a blessing. It feels worse being the beloved rather than the lover. There is just so little you can do to try to console the other person, and that just feels terrible, especially when the other person is a friend.

Amidst the manger

For a time of the year which focuses on peace and sings of silent nights, Christmas is terribly noisy. The shuffling of bodies, squabbling of shoppers, the chants and chimes and bells of songs and music. And it’s starting to get to me. But the first Christmas wasn’t very silent or peaceful or calm.

We have this idealized nonsense of an idea that the birth of Jesus was surrounded by nothing more than the awe of angels and wise men. I may not be a farmer, but I can put money that being surrounded by a barn full of animals was more than a little cacophonous, which ones we are unsure of but why have a barn if you have no animals? In any case, the manger was surrounded by noise. The clamor of wise men and shepherds would have added to the commotion.

It wasn’t just background noise though. Joseph and Mary weren’t in a barn for the accoutrements: Herod sought to kill this promised child, this king who threatened the crown. The manger was a sanctuary.

Perhaps, it is in this that I struggle with the noise surrounding me. Jesus was surrounded by praise, by rightful worship and glory. Surely, even the animals were in awe that God should call a manger His bed for even a moment, a mound of flesh His body. I am surrounded by the clamor and ruckus of a world that is at best tepid to my existence, if not an ocean of apathy with waves that plummet upon my back with a dispassionate lethargy.

To be seen with eyes of love, even to be seen with eyes of hate, is better than not being seen at all. Then, who I am that I am worthy of being seen? What have I done that matters at all? Should I or anyone else find value in my life by mere virtue of it being?

I am no one. I am nothing. But Jesus was, is, will always be everything.

The world does not care about me as I care about it. The people I love do not love me the way I love them. But Jesus loves me in such a way. Even when I did not care about Him, He cared about me; even when I did not love Him, He loved me. Perhaps in time, the world and the people will change, but it means nothing to me. I don’t need it, don’t need them. I have walked alone so often in life, free of others, but never of God. He is the sole thing that I need.

While I may want those that I love to love me back, I don’t need them. I want them, a select few more than others, in my life, and from me that is more than a compliment but a spark of my heart that I rarely share. What greater compliment can be said of someone that we do not need them to continue, but would not want to continue without them?

Jesus, though… I need and want. My life is ended the moment that is not true. And so I find myself with those wise men, those shepherds, those beasts, worshiping as an embodiment of all three. I look not to each of my fellow men and beasts for love, but at the manger, not for the love of mere mortals but the Immortal One. Together or alone, it matters very little for I never lived for those around me, but only Him in front of me. In silence or shout, let me look to Him. Whether I am loved or hated by all the world, I still have the world whole if He loves me, and of that I shall never doubt but marvel at times how perfection might find love of imperfection.

Poemetry: Unspoken

Beauty or Death or Hate or Love,

which purchases my silence for you?

Not one, nor two, nor four, but three.

A glance and all would count Beauty.

A word of mine and Love is true.

Forswear, though, Hate by God above.

What but Death is left to comprise

the hushes of my wordless voice?

Yes, dead, and silent in demise

for the tongue no more stills by choice.

Dead, soundless by stiffness of heart;

living, mute to adore your grace;

In both, buried by empty space

where past phrases limned oral art.

Three have seized the name two once spoke,

but despots die, the lifeless live,

and all that sleeps may be rewoke

if the unspoken we forgive.

By the measure

It is almost that time when people celebrate New Year’s Eve, when the calendar begins again. Not for me though. My year has been a comma out of place in my life, a pause from the continuous motion. And when I stop, I realize that it has been almost as long since things were okay.

With all my health problems, I suppose it is easy enough to think that that is what erodes my happiness and sense of satisfaction. It isn’t. Don’t get me wrong: it has not been a fun year of illness and surgeries and infirmity. What matters to me is not life itself, which I admit feels strange to write, though I must make clear that I quite prefer being alive at the moment and have no desire for that to change.  That said, it is what gives life meaning that matters most to me. There are many things that make life meaningful, ipseic desires no doubt, but, for me, it is not a thing that is missing but rather a who. A she. A her.

She is not the beginning, nor the end, if it is an end. But I have measured this year not by calendar nor surgery nor breaths but by words left unspoken to someone I care about, will always care about, hoping all the while that somewhere the tongue should regain for a second the ability to speak my heart. What worth is a tongue muted to the words we have for those we care about most?

Then, what worth if the words are directed to another country? What if the one we care about is not within steps but miles, across oceans and mountains and far from interest in awaiting the shores for a shipwreck of sound? Can we reclaim the voice heard but not listened to?

When New Year’s Eve has passed, and my own nears, I shall not step forth with joy, with raucous hollers and elated cheers. Perhaps it shall be mourning, perhaps mere melancholy. But certainly not hope. Not for this. Not for her.

Where do we stop though? When do we stop? When do we end an arduous journey fraught with emptiness and sorrows, lurking about in the caliginous day as revenants and wights, waiting in ambush, concealed as in night though not of shadow but sun? At the destination is the answer, and no doubt such a sentiment prods my heart onward towards specterless night, but the question becomes about the destination. What is the destination? What would designate consummation of the steps, of an end reached? And what of the destination that changes or continues to proceed ever in front of you but never in reach?

Am I Sisyphus or Tantalus? Perhaps both.But they suffered for rock and fruit. She is neither. She is worth immeasurably more to me than all save God. Let the mockers mock, the gossips gossip, and jesters jest, but they mock what they will never know, gossip about what they will never have, jest about what they will never believe in.

Past Possibility. Past Hope. To the face of Despair and well past his shadow. To Death. Nothing, nothing, will ever make me stop. Not in my heart.