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One Fine Mess

Lately there’s this knot in my stomach, more than a knot lately, more like the stunted heart of a tree sitting on my intestines and turning the food I eat to acid. Or a spaghetti monster, though not flying, which started as a few strands and has multiplied and expanded to become a seething mess of inextricable cords in my belly. It’s stress, I know, it’s been growing steadily over months and probably years. It’s less deniable or escapable lately and it’s affecting me physically. I can go a day without eating much and not think much of it – sometimes not even enjoy what I do eat. Pleasure is harder to feel, physical pleasure more elusive. I remember feeling this in college for a time, something similar. And I remember more the release from it, the coming out on the other side that made it all feel better, and continued to get better still. I want that again.

I know why it’s there, the circumstances that carried me to this point. Most of those circumstances have passed now, not as a gallstone but as someone on the street whom you’ve been trying to overtake and who turns out to be someone else. And you may think the settling of the great unsettled questions of four years would produce that same release, the space to breathe again and get on with living. But instead it’s brought the stress to a head, uncovered the gaping holes, undistracted me from what’s really always been there. The grain of sand at the center of this antipearl, or grains probably, are the unanswered prayers of three years, the residue of the monuments of utter hope and expansive vision eroded bit by bit by the years of futility and disappointment to a faint layer of silt on a rock. Unless a seed dies, so they say, but I throw around words I hardly understand. Dying hurts, if that’s what it is. And if it’s living, then the greatest dreams of the men of centuries are delusions and the hope I have left is my capacity for imagination.

Who can untangle this mess? I am a futile team building game, a tangled mesh of crossed arms and clasped hands with no one’s eyes open and everyone stepping over each other into more knots. Every bit I can manage to pull away and regard with some clarity only connects inextricably to every other bit, all seething around a nebulous core which I think has something to do with God. Or not.

I used the word hope earlier, and some days I’m surprised it’s still there. Job’s wife counseled him to curse God and die. No one has said that to me so far, but no one has provided any answers either. Perhaps once I approach my fortieth chapter the skies will open for me too. At least I don’t have a chorus of counselors advising me to swap my suffering for a generous portion of guilt and self-loathing. Not that those don’t come into play here. Guilt feeds it. When I take myself out of the game somehow, when I saunter off the field and look for the gate to the bleachers, I feel it. When I cross a line, I feel it, it feeds the mass, and confession usually only gets me back to zero sum. But it helps, no doubt. As if you could unfeed the Blob to a certain point. But thereafter it gets no smaller.

I was talking about hope though. It’s insensible that hope is still present in this. Is it the last throes of dying optimism? I guess we’ll see. But it’s there, strung along throughout the unfolding days, greater in measure when I apply it to someone else, transformative even, but for me a whisper in the back of my mind, a floor above the no man’s land of the heart. Something without which I would quite easily have become a different person by now.

Gravity / has taken better men than me / how can that be? / just keep me where the light is

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