No Day at the Beach
The sun rose this morning full of light and fury. The sky burned. The blue was ice. The clouds were an armada ablaze, sailing over the horizon. It was the kind of morning I usually live for. This morning, nothing - and yet, something.
Sometimes I have days like this. I get out of bed to meet the day and find my soul muddled and confused. I feel stuck at the crossroads of listless excitement and crystal-clear confusion. I'm equally torn between an unnatural craving to act and a heavy inertia that locks my feet to the earth like iron to a magnet. My mind races, even though it's full of nothing. I spend long minutes staring into space and seeing little but a big empty, only to emerge later full of questions and ideas.
My skin crawls and itches like an ill-fitting suit. I'm a split personality - one side obsessive and manic, the other lax and slothful - unable to do anything with the energy trapped within except weather it like a storm. I'm on a tightrope, experiencing the sensation of falling while knowing full well it won't happen. My mind is full of smoke and mirrors. I know nothing unordinary is happening in the physical world, but my head is a teeming city with all the confusion that comes with any mental megalopolis.
Thinking seriously about anything - work or lunch or feeding the dog - is impossible. Diversions don't work. The television makes only a white noise. Reading is beyond comprehension. I'm uninterested in talking. I'm reduced to breathing and carrying on other involuntary functions and not much else.
Many people have suggested meditation - something I struggle with even when I'm whole and focused - at times like this. I try it as an experiment, knowing where it will lead.
I imagine myself on a beach. The sun hangs in the sky. The waves make the perfect sound of the womb. The beach is whiter than white. I imagine my right big toe and how I must relax it. I allow it to float in the baby-bath warm water. It feels good, but it isn't calming.
Undeterred, I press on.
The back of my right leg cushes softly in the sand. I can feel the warmth and smell the pungent ocean smell. And slowly, almost imperceptibly, the cush on my leg turns to grit. The sand accumulates and scratches at me. I fight an overwhelming urge to stand up and brush it off. The itch eats at me like a thousand tiny sand flies. With supreme will, I force the itch from my mind and begin again.
First, the toe. Yes, very good. I can feel the warmth. It feels silky and good on my skin.
Next the right leg. I again reach the point where I feel the soft cush, but this time my mind wanders away from the skritching. I begin to image how many billions of grains of sand lie on this imaginary beach. I begin to imagine them, grain by gain by grain. As I do, they pile up. I count faster, they flow on to the beach like the sands of an hourglass. I count faster still and the wind picks them up and swirls them around me. I keep counting, faster and faster while the wind picks up and the sands blow, and I lose count again and again.
The meditation takes me to the uncomfortable place it always takes me - high agitation and monumental frustration. I concentrate on reversing the course of the sand. I slowly calm the storm, back the feeling down my leg, and arrive where I started with my right big toe in the warm and silky salt water. It's all I can manage and will have to be enough today.
The day wears on. No big troubles. No hefty depression. Just sort of a low background of radio noise, punctuated by a minor frustration or an ill-thought here or there. Certainly not bad enough to make it impossible to overcome, but it does require a steady stroke and strong kick as I swim against its tide.
I'll be tired tonight, but I won't sleep.
And then, there will be tomorrow.
Therapy morning and a late trip to work on a day I usually work from home. I don't look forward to it. I'll fight it when it comes. But, I'll do it. I almost always do. If it's a good day, my frustration will subside as the day goes on and the routine of solving problems and thinking about work will slowly reorganize my mind. If it's a very good day, the process will be almost complete by day's end. I'll be able to fully function again. The frustrations will only exist as a little gray schmutz on my psyche. I'll be flat, but for me, that's normal. In fact, all of this is quite normal.
At least for me.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, November 12, 2006