My Quest Back to Life

I don't often write with deliberate, pointed emotion. Often times I skate, in varying deviations, around the emotion that may or may not be driving the words I'm writing, never directly acknowledging them, but not hiding the fact that they're present. I may never know which of my emotions are correctly inferred by any singular reader in anything I write. Today, however, I don't plan on having that issue. Today I'm not writing on paper, or on a screen, but on the nose.

College, for many, if not most of us, is the place where we shape our personal sculptures into something permanent. It's the first time many of us truly experience life... Diverse, unpredictable, exhilarating, painful, scary, awesome... Life. It's also the place where we develop many habits, both mental and physical, and where we put the finishing caulk on the blocks that were mostly-built-but-slightly-out-of-place in our developing minds.

It's a crucial time. A time to pay attention to yourself and others. A time to be nice to people, be horrible to other people, then compare the results. It's where you're a flicker away from being an adult, but can still misbehave. There are rules, but not harsh rules. Maybe you get expelled, maybe you get fined, but at the end of the day, for most of us, the consequences aren't too serious. Policing on college campus' is like small-town policing of a drunk driver in the 70s. You get a verbal warning, an officer makes sure you realize you're an idiot, then they send you on your way, so you can briefly feel guilty about your outdoor beer-holding, then wake up the next day with a weird nonsensical pride.

Because of the ghost-like rulebook that mostly just suggests you don't do certain things, college is a place to roam freely. For the mental kamikaze's like myself, it's a time to mostly roam internally, and tear your own mind to shreds. College is a place where developing minds have experiences they've never had before, with people they've never encountered before. So what am I to do other than dig into my own mind? And dig. And dig. Until there's nothing but ruffled feathers and confusion. I've never known any other way.

Aside from the night's I spent wishing I was at parties I wouldn't have enjoyed, I spent an asshole's load of time thinking about myself as a child, as an adult, as a friend, as a son, as a brother, as a white guy, as a dick, and as a sweetheart. And while that's led me to a lot of good in my life, it's also led me to a lot of disengagement, indifference, disconnection, angst, and frankly, sadness. Things I never experienced until I had the time to sit and think, and think, and think, all day, until my mind twisted itself into a knot, locking all forms of euphoria-related chemicals inside. Now, today, I sit here, 5 or 6 years away from the first time I ever laid in bed, not understanding why I just felt off. I remember the day vividly. I lay in my bed, in The Overlook dorms at Ramapo College, staring at the wall - not a, "I'm completely empty inside" stare, but something closer to a, "I just woke up" stare. I laid there. And I laid there. And to be honest, while I had just woken up, I have no memory of what time it actually was - my best guess is midday. What was weird about the moment, was not that I didn't feel like getting up. It was that I had no desire to get up. A tired mind would think, "I should go do blah blah blah, but I'm just so tired..." The moment that you realize you don't have the mental desire to get up, because you don't have the mental desire to be anywhere, is something a bit jarring. And it's something that I now know all too well.

Something to note here, also, is that I didn't have this realization in real-time. It was something that dawned on me later, when these types of feelings, or lack thereof, surfaced more often. When these types of feelings became types of days, then those days became weeks, and those weeks became life.

I can't remember when I officially lost count of these desireless feelings. Eventually, they just were, and I wasn't clear enough mentally to backtrack accurately. Following that lonely, lonely day of laying in bed in my dorm room, things just seemed to float by, more rapidly as time passed. Think of it this way... If I were able to watch time pass, it would have looked like the wings of a working ceiling fan. They're there, but not really there. You know they exist, but you can't find the exact place that they exist. They're surely moving, but at unknown speeds. They're just barely tangible.

A few more years went by, I graduated from Ramapo, and a bit of relaxation seemed to be in-store. It was time for really-real life. But the days came, and the days went. I had a job I hated, making craps worth of money, without knowing what I actually wanted to do in life. I felt I had no rope to grab a hold of to at least stop me from falling.

A few more years passed, and I was still at the job I hated, now making about $2 more per hour than craps worth. Needless to say, I didn't feel any better about things. Still no rope, still no hope. Seemingly crippling college debt, still not knowing what I wanted for my future self. Around this time, however, I found something that seemed positive. I started writing semi-regularly. I found it to be a way to explore my brain in ways I couldn't do otherwise. I also found it to be a way to speak about myself more honestly, and more poignantly - the type of poignancy I had always desired, but could never express verbally.

For the first time in my life, I found an ability to express myself. I felt validated. I felt like I truly existed. I felt connected to the world, connected to something. And go figure, at that point in time, down came the rope my sensitive hands had long been looking to grab ahold of. In my ability to express myself through writing, I found a way to better access who I was, and who I wanted to be. Soon after, I landed a new job, had a better understanding of my own skillset, and had a better idea of where I wanted to be in life. I felt that my quest back to life was just beginning. My quest back to feeling. My quest back to existing, where I leave chronic indifference in the rearview, and move to the sunny side of the street.

Today, I sit here and I write, having again switched to an even better job, with an even better understanding of myself as a person, as a writer, as a child, as an adult, as a brother and a son. It'll be a long trek, and I know that. I don't quite yet see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I do know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. At some point, I didn't even know there was a tunnel at all. But today, I can honestly say I'm moving in the right direction.

My plan, my hope... Is to move forward, each day, writing the most honest thing I've ever written, every single time I write. It feels good. I mean, it simply feels. And it feels good to feel. I welcome feelings, good, bad, or otherwise. I welcome the rope burn, and I welcome the loudness of the tunnel. I've lost feeling before, and it's not something I hope to experience again. I've been depressed. I am depressed... Or maybe I'm full of shit, I don't know. But, today, I feel okay, and that's all that matters.

 

B.H.