Another Bloomsday gone. It has been three years since I announced the intention to revive my blog on Facebook. The aching sense of lack that drove me to that decision back then still exists. Of course a lot has happened since then. A lot has changed, a lot has been done. But sometimes, in the middle of the doings and keeping busy and ticking boxes, you ask yourself, what has really changed? Why are you here, anyway?
Leopold Bloom walked the streets on a meandering search for purpose. Sounds like a fairytale in the middle of this lockdown. Still, we’re all making our ways through our daily schedules through the meandering signposts that keep us reassured that we’re doing it right, that we’re doing something, at any rate. Online, offline, or inside our heads.
Perhaps it’s selfish to talk about personal ennui at a time like this. So let me ask instead, where do we go from here? Will we ever travel again? Embrace our friends? Somehow, I imagined a countdown, an end-time recollection. Instead we are here in limbo.
Even on days like today, with the rain turning the windshield into a portal to a dream, what keeps me going is the thought that somewhere on this surface is someone who knows exactly what I mean when I speak of the irrelevance of everything in terms of infinity, and the certainty that we share a planet together. That’s why I ramble. To find them. And for them to find me. But mostly, I ramble to pour out the streaming incoherence of my mind. And sometimes I ramble because it is all I can do to drown out the silent hollow ache in my chest.
I read a short story the other day. It was by E.L. Bangs in an anthology called Bikes in Space (Volume II). Bangs imagines a post-crash world which has run out of fuels where mobility is no longer an assured right. Despite the difference in context, the idea of people spending their entire lives in one place because travel is impossible felt curiously analogous to our times. Of course we’ve already started to gradually move out of lockdown as I write this, but whoever thought the world could close away into little islands before this year?
All of us, in our homes, wondering if the world would ever open up like it used to be, or if we should settle into our little places, memories of the wider world shriveling into oblivion over years? Of course, oblivion isn’t really possible in the digital era, or so one hopes.
I drafted this piece up to here before the 16th, in time for Bloomsday blog. But somehow I failed to put it up on time. Part of this is of course because I misplaced my dates- not the first time to happen in this lockdown. But I could have still put it up on the next day, when parts of the world were still on the day I had lost. I could have, but I couldn’t. For the last several days, I have been assailed by some sort of acute paralysis. I feel this physical abyss within which I can’t cover up unless I am immersed into another, someone else’s story. Distracting myself from myself seems to have become the goal. My brain wants to do certain things- stuff to write, some of which have already been drafted, stuff to sing- I have the lyrics arranged and the chords noted, there are things that I make me feel good- meditative dancing, for instance, but I can’t seem to move, for some reason, although I function perfectly outwards. So many things I want to do, but every time I conceive of doing them, there’s this hollow pit somewhere in the region of my heart that freezes me up, and I seek quick distractions. Sometimes it is overpowering enough to make me want to cry. Or sleep. Escape. And a part of this paralysis, I recognized this afternoon from a long ago memory is fear. The way you feel the evening before the examination when you know nothing of the syllabus. The way you dread the advancing hands of the clock.
I am paralyzed with the fear of failing at life. I am afraid that all my chances are slipping out and I have no idea how to do the things that I want to do in order to succeed. I am afraid I will never be able to reach the next stage which comes as a reward for passing your examinations. And I desperately want to reach the next stage. I am afraid I am trapped in a box that I am never getting out of. I’ve always been scared shit of boxes. There’s only so much positive affirmations you can practice. You try to say the words and they disappear in that giant hollow pit inside you. And I realize I am waffling about invisible demons in my own little head in a world that for all purposes has gone bonkers.
I think I am sounding repetitive.
What I know that if tomorrow the world changes into what it used to be, the ache will remain. I wasn’t too fond of the world as it used to be. The vague stasis and shapeless confusion have always been there. Lockdown has merely turned it into a more visible physicality.
But this is what I am saying here. I am acknowledging that I am afraid. I am acknowledging that I am anxious. I am acknowledging that I am sad. And in writing it out I feel a little lighter in my heart. I feel weighed down by an absence, but this too shall pass. As the Cap says- Whatever it takes.
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