Rolling around in bed, I found that in my sleep I had etched something on the bedside table. This happens maybe once or twice yearly, and it is rarely legible. The carvings are revelations I have in dreams, something I am unable to disguise from my conscious, maybe something too significant or maybe just significant to me. I have written these words (slumbered syntactical and spelling errors omitted) for your viewing:
“In every home is a cabinet, meant for holding dried perishables. Contained inside are canned fruits, vegetables, chips, nuts & legumes, etc. At first glance, this multitude of items is un-categorical, almost lost amongst its entropy. Yet over time, taking from it chocolate-covered cashews or individually packaged granola bars, there becomes an organic system.
Many years will grow and die, the cabinet will be replenished dozens or hundreds of times over, but nothing is ever out of place. Our eyes instinctively meander to the perfect spot; our fingers pulled by intangible strings to what our lips crave most. It is a knee-jerk response to an unrealized stimuli, an automated reaction to what our body desires, only formed after uncountable attempts at wandering amongst numberless anomalies.
This, I think, is what it must feel like to fall in love.”
I spoke the words once and a hundred times, wondering why this merited remembrance. It isn’t uncommon that I misplace context when tumbling down the rabbit hole of my imaginings. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I was circling a grander idea, hidden in between the carved words. The understanding of an emotional phantom limb, or the sensations and pain inside something that doesn’t exist.
The idea of being impacted by a ghost apparition, a celestial specter.
It makes sense that a neurological condition is mirrored by our battered souls. A spirit reaches inside us and creates remorse, or disappointment, or aspiration. These vulnerabilities are manifested from that which doesn’t exist; we are touched by impalpable hauntings of the not seen.
In moments when we meet someone or feel something, it becomes part of our identity and us. We cannot define ourselves without it, because it is intertwined inside our words, our mannerisms, our decisions. We fail and we flourish alongside it, a mingled quest throughout the perils of existing every day. In these moments, to envision this journey alone is paralyzing.
One day, it leaves or you leave, and it doesn’t matter because the snow will always fall in winter. Your brain sends impulses to the cavity where your heart used to be, but it’s not ribboned from the same fibers it once was. You breathe tensely, because the atmosphere is a different composite of nitrogen and carbon dioxide and toxins. Since you are alone, the stratosphere has disintegrated and the lack of ozone blisters your skin. Since you are alone, the tectonic plates beneath your feet will cave under your adolescent sorrow.
It is most remarkable that a phantom can make your bones ache, but it cannot change you.
When you wake tomorrow morning, explain to yourself that even though it’s painful and maybe the ozone is gone and you have strained some of your heartstrings, you will see the next morning and even the morning after that. You will wake up with every dawn until the earth’s tectonic plates have shattered and the sky has tumbled, and even then you will find a way to sit upright in your bed and breathe in the unbalanced nitrogen and carbon dioxide and toxins. Despite all this, you will know which way the snow is falling.
Inside all chaos, there is something beautiful.
View of an unmade bed image courtesy of Shutterstock