“My body loves inertia, my brain loves oblivion”Louise Erdrich, The Sentence
I’m restless with the craving for constant motion. Ever needing to avoid the evil of idle hands, the devil can make playthings of whatsoever he chooses as along as I can keep moving. Better the devil you know, after all.
And yet, my mind longs to be at the center of the void; floating freely in the quiet spaces between the clangor of calamitous thoughts. Suspended within the edges of the abyss at my center without ever touching the sides, and without ever tumbling down; a pressurized cabin hung aloft in the clouds of the middle distance, lolling the roar of my own inturnedness into a mesmerizing mixture of awareness and unfeeling.
I look for ways to be engulfed by an economy of monotonous activity so that the fickle seasons turning endlessly in my brain can find their way into the bleak blankness of winter. I keep away from conversations and crowded places. Everything feels too fast, too loud, too heavy, too much. But, “[t]he thing about avoiding other people,” says A.G. Slatter, “is that you spend a lot of time with your own thoughts”. And, my thoughts, when left alone on infinite loop are often anything but helpful or comforting. Musings turn to tightening gyres burrowing into flesh and festering with no answers or conclusions.
“This is exactly [the] problem in life”, says Pablo d’ Ors, “the hesitations, the fears, the systematic doubts”. But, I think that’s only half true. Our doubts can, and often do, lead to a paralysis of a kind; cloistered and closed, spinning the silk of suspicion around ourselves until its all we can see or breath. And, yet, as John Green says “your doubts make you more real, not less.”
Placing a question mark next to something that feels either immovable or muddied can help to bring a clarity of real and tangible conviction, especially the conviction about how inarguably real we are; an immovable comfort when we feel our lives are becoming ghostly and phantasmic. When all our days feel as if they are little more than the hallucinatory fictions of a maniacal demon’s fever dream, doubt can be the touchstone of something solid.
The right person doesn’t try to neglect or mask your doubts, nor do they suggest that you should. Instead, they sit in them with you. They embrace your doubts as fully and as wholly as they hold you, realizing that the kinetic energy of your questioning is the animating force that makes you who you are. In doing so, they break the cycle. They separate the circuit. That’s what love does. It tears a hole where there wasn’t one before. It creates a breach in the closed-network, claustrophobia of our outer-defenses.
The trick, then, is to remain unarmed and unarmored. To let the cut come to our hermetically sealed sense of self. To feel the stinging relief of openness. To let the bricks and barriers of our inner anchorage turn to thistledown, and watch as they dance away on the breeze. Unfastened and unbarred, safe in the still of someone who cradles our concerns.