Thursday, January 24, 2013

No Story

Feeling very peculiar.

It started, I think, last night -- or at least, that's when I noticed it first, as I was coming down the stairs.  Suddenly, I wasn't how I've always thought of myself -- a person, going through more or less meaningful activities in a more or less meaningful way.  Suddenly, as though my inner viewpoint had shifted sharply to one side, I looked and felt like... a thing.  Just an item in space and time, no more interesting or significant that the banister, or the scatter rug, or a new accumulation of cat hair that means the stairs need to be swept again. 

Today, this unfamiliar sensation continues.  It seems to come with an ache, high up in my middle, beneath my sternum.  I can do things, but there seems to be an ambivalence about both the intent, and the activity -- I guess it's a kind of detachment with which I'm unfamiliar. 

During one of my more recent attempts at finding some sort of mental discipline or point of view, that might help me navigate through what appears to be a stubborn insistence on existing, I came across a line in either a book or a magazine article -- it had a Buddhist slant to it, whatever it was -- that went something like this:  There is no story.  Even looking at the words on the computer screen now, I feel that sense of dislocation -- of being jarred out of what I guess I've always assumed was how people lived, and... out into some sort of completely dispassionate place, operating more or less by the same physical rules I've been used to - gravity, time, hunger, the accumulation of cat hair -- but not so firmly embedded in that physical world.  There is no story.

And, frankly, I don't know if I should try to shake myself out of this feeling of floating around like a big piece of meat wrapped in cloth, or if I even have the power to knit myself back into the sort of existential hypnogogic state in which I seem to have been living, without really knowing it.  My skin prickles just a little, and I'm very much aware of my heartbeat -- as though I might physically disintegrate, like a pinata at the hands of invisible children at an invisible birthday party.  Little flecks left behind, for a damp cloth to gather.

I don't know why (though I suspect its my stubborn insistence on high drama where no drama at all is needed) but I'm thinking of someone scheduled to be executed in, say, two hours.  I seem to identify with that kind of existence in time and space -- where the familiar becomes distorted because it's about to forget the fact that I was ever even here; when I myself seem shrunk up inside myself, seeing even my own body as a separate, fallible vehicle for whatever is observing it.  I must go through the motions, I suppose; I seem to know the proper responses, and can even guess what's coming next.  But it's almost as though I'm already remembering what hasn't happened yet.  As though I'm already looking back on what shred of future I have left, before... the flight of energy that will mark the ending of this particular point of view.

So there's definitely a background sensation, like a movie's musical score.  And this one seems to portend nothing cheerful or radiant.  This one seems more mechanical than that, like a less-than-successful minimalist exercise, calling to mind a factory assembly line, or the unenthusiastic marching cadence of an army pressed into service.  I'll continue, now, to go about the day, unsure whether I'm in it, or beside it, or seeing it from a shelf.  Trying to do the right thing, within a context that feels outside the purview of correctness and mistake.  Feeling on the verge of being overwhelmed, or at the point of collapsing inward, because I've been psychically undermined.  And with nothing onto which to grasp, because steadying myself is in itself an easily-skewed illusion. 

There being no story.

©   2013       Walter Zimmerman     

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