The Imp is away! Today, she starts a full-time job Saving the World (in her own way), and so I must once more contend with the feeling of Being Alone. The Imp has been home for over six months now, ever since her university transitioned to online courses only. I have become used to her constant presence. Now, I must rediscover the world of myself. I am beginning by writing an essay:
“All Good In The Hood? An Exploration of my Current Mental State”
I have recently become unable to sleep for more than one hour at a time. My nights are a series of intermittent checkings of a clock. 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30… Each time I wake, I rewind my audiobook to where it left off and settle back to sleep. I am awake enough to remember that I awoke, and nothing more.
It used to be that I would wake up once or twice in the middle of the night in order to urinate. My body is wholly unwilling to store such vile liquids within itself for long periods of time; eight hours without releasing them is simply beyond its capabilities. Recently, I have made an attempt not to hydrate my body at all for up to 2 hours before bed. I still wake up, but I do not urinate. I wake up more, in fact. Who is to say what is the deal with things such as this?
This morning The Imp had to rise at 6:40am, which, for her, is remarkably early. Thankfully, her nerves (it is her first day, after all) propelled her out of bed ten minutes prior, and the alarms did naught but wake me out of my semi-slumber. When she left, I was so overcome with my feeling of freedom, that I too jumped out of bed, and proceeded to throw my morning out of a window.
Ah, these windows, there are too many of them! It seems I can not pass one without throwing a day or two out of it. Just where does the time go? Before I knew it, noon had reared its beautiful head, and I was struck with the desire to nap. And that I did. When I awoke with clear eyes, I saw that my destiny today (since my multiple attempts to start work on my novel were met with little success) was to clean house. A few hours later, here I am, sitting in the living room (the office seems so stuffy when I am alone in such a large apartment), watching every surface in the house gleam with cleanliness. What a feeling! And I did the laundry to boot.
So, is all good in the hood? A man happened to ask me this just the other day. This man works at the liquor store around the corner from my produce store. He passed my co-worker and I, who were deep in our first conversation in over a year (I am naturally shy), and spoke those four words: “All good in the hood?” Naturally, I responded with: “what?” He repeated his question. I said, “I don’t know dude, it’s fine.” By the time I finished this reply, the man had already walked away. I turned to my co-worker, and finished the thought I had begun before the interruption: “It’s probably best to just not pay attention to anything.”
I have banished the world from my thoughts; you may yell and scream all you like, but you can not reach me now. I am secluded in a mind palace. I built this mind palace because every time I approach the world, I am thrust back in astonishment at my inability to understand its workings. Every time I am online, I am saying, “Who are these people? What are they talking about?” Of course, I know the contents of current events; I am no fool. I know the historical context too, more often than not. However, understanding events and histories does me no good, because I simply do not understand people. Perhaps it is my interest in history that has made me unable to absorb myself in the present day. In any case, I understand, before you go and tell me, that this is my own failing.
I created my current mindset in self-defence. It is almost a built-in antidepressant. For the future, I felt fear, and for the past, I felt shame. For the present, I felt disdain. In order to rid myself of these negative feelings, I endeavoured to eradicate feelings of any sort, at least to the extent that such is possible. I have opinions, but they exist behind qualifications and hesitations so deep that I rarely express them even to myself. I have emotional reactions, but they are limited to the world that directly affects me. I feel anger only when I am not understood. I feel sadness only when I become aimless. I feel happiness only when the source of my happiness is right in front of my eyes. I can not concern myself with the happenings of other sides of the Earth, or even other sides of the city.
I used to idolize monkhood and any semblance of asceticism. Nowadays, I have grown more skeptical. I think I have come as far as I can go when it comes to renouncing the world. It is time, I think, for me to return. That is why I am writing again. I have a hope that my novels will save the world, in their own way. I have a hope that my work at the produce store is a benefit to Earth. I smile at people. I ask them how they are doing. For some of them, I am the only person that day who will greet them with a smile. It is the absolute least I can do. Hey, you can do it too, if you feel like it.
I argue often with The Imp about science and fiction (although rarely about science fiction). These arguments generally revolve around my skepticism about the ability of scientific progress to save the world. Oftentimes, she is correct. I am simply difficult. I refuse to believe in progress, and I refuse to believe in value. I refuse to believe in much of anything, to be honest. I believe in fiction, but what the nature of this belief is, I can not say.
I appreciate science only when it is aesthetically appealing to me. I think there are hard limits to where scientific research ceases to be helpful; when I say this, I am referring to its applicability to human happiness (to use a word I dislike). Can science help make our lives better? It can certainly extend our lives; it can limit our pain and our suffering (in certain respects); it can free us from certain burdens. However, I always have the feeling that the more we learn, the more new ways we find to be miserable, and the more we lose those connections to the beauty of Earth that can eradicate this misery. My thoughts on this subject sound pedestrian; in truth, they are not fully formed. One day, perhaps, I will find an opportunity to explore this topic more thoroughly (the question still remains: would it be worth it?)
What I appreciate most about science is that it can provide us with new avenues of thought. My life is simply a quest for interesting thoughts. When I happen on one, I swallow it up. I digest it slowly. Much later, I exude this thought in the form of a piece of writing. By the time I write it, I have often forgotten where the thought came from, or that I ever ingested it at all. It seems to come out of my own brain. A clever trick, that.
In other news, there was a day last week in which I was actually busy, a rarity in a lifestyle such as mine. As it turns out, much of this business came to naught, and that which did not come to naught came to very little at all. Alas, a man must make his day’s pay, which I did, although I could have done without much of the worry it entailed. I am a worrier at heart; I simply can not help it, and no matter how trivial a task, a looming deadline is sure to send me into fits of despair. I do not work well with time constraints; in fact, I would often prefer if time did not exist at all. What is the use of knowing the time? Ah, for a man such as I, time is no matter. Unfortunately, many of the people with money to give away in exchange for labour do not feel the same way. It is just another way in which I must compromise with the world.
By the way, this morning as I ate my breakfast, a gamut of birds congregated on the trees outside my window. There were chickadees, juncos, starlings, finches, the requisite crows, and even my good friend, the Northern Flicker. There was even a species of bird that I could not idenfity, even with flipping through the pages of my bird book twice over. Ah, even without a name, its song was just as sweet.
In opposition to our expectations, birds were relatively scarce around our house during the summer. Perhaps this is because food is more plentiful, so they find the time to wander around non-human-infested environments. As the fall and winter approach, their reliance on bird feeders and the like might increase, prompting a return to the city. This is simply my hypothesis. At any rate, it was a joy to see them all back again.
So, is all good in the hood? Well, now that I’ve sat here and thought about it all, I would say that yes, in fact, all is good in the hood. The birds are singing, the house is clean, the laundry is done, the sun is shining, and The Imp is saving the world. And I am here, where I belong, saving the world in my own way.