Monday, December 30, 2002

A task has been thrust upon me, and I have never never felt more unqualified. The three semesters left of undergraduate bliss seem miniscule compared with the five behind me--12 classes, a matter of months. And then invisible hands push me out the Van Wickle Gates, out of wonderland and into, well,
in my waking nightmare I am walking into a pigeon hole. Dark and small, so narrow that I can't stretch my arms or legs, and I can't even turn my head to look about my cramped surroundings.
Why would I walk into a pigeon whole? It is what I dread and loathe most. In all the uncertainty of my future, I feel most certain that I want to defy the pigeon whole, to break lose of it, or, if possible, to avoid it all together.
But what does that even mean? I have to do something and I can't do everything. Really, nothing short of assured immortality will sufficiently quell my fears. I can't be everything I want to at once, and I can't even be everything I want to in sequence. I only get one shot.
And that's the ring of graduate school's 7-10 years starts sounding like a prison sentence. All the worse because I have chosen it for myself. Because really who am I to know? How could I possibly qualified to make this kind of decision?
I step out the gates, and some body hands me a lifetime and tells me,
here you go.
What do I do with that? When has anyone put a year in my hands? Two years? I have passed from one sure thing to the next, without any question. And too soon the clear well-trodden path ends, and I with no training as a trailblazer am left with feeble nose to sniff around frantically, with no idea what I'm smelling for. How ridiculous.
Give me a job I'm qualified for.
I want college forever. Solid ground. And yet I already feel myself being thrown off a diving board and into a pool, except that once I go under, there's another diving board, ten feet under, and people on that diving board will grab me and pull me down and throw me off the underwater diving board farther down into the pool, the pool has no bottom and I am thrown down and down by invisible hands from one diving board to the next until I lose all hope of seeing the surface. What use will it be then for me to scream to ask "what if i wanted to dive at the other end of the pool?" I'll be deep in, and it will be dark.

So this is what my sick mind has been playing with recently. Morbidly mixing multiple melodramatic metaphors, making me mightily morose. And it will take me for a while, until I snap out and tell myself that life is simple, and I can live well even in the smallest and darkest of places, wearing any one of a thousand hats, or no hat at all.

Running helps. Thump-Thump-Thump-Thump my feet, metronomic, give me an easy 4/4 rhythm, and in and out through my lungs too. So rhythmic I can trick my brain into a sort of sleep. That's all sleep is--as much as science-folk understand it--desensitization to outside stimulus helped along by the rising synchrony of thousands of neurons firing in rhythm. I dub this new sleep stage RUN-sleep. Thump-Thump-Thump-Thump is all that occupies my mind for a while, until eventually my mind is ready to dream a bit--visions and thoughts that fall in and scatter themselves back out almost immediately, with no inner narrative to string them together except what I might try to construct afterward--if I would even want to. Such a blissful vacation from narrative--the inner narrative, ever-binding. Focus, connecting one vision or thought to the next, constructing sense out of life is so consuming. No wonder I awake--from running or from sleeping--well-refereshed.
Strange how we try to construct narratives out of dreams. As soon as we are awake, we reach back, and try to chain our visions together, to make them mean something, barely cognizant that, for a couple of hours, we had dropped the chains to rest, and let the visions run free.