Sunday 5 February 2017

A little history.

My wretched life has only been made worse by two things: abject poverty, and fleeting moments of intense joy. The poverty, I've found, is survivable. Character building, even. Joy, however, is a disgusting paradoxical state. Joy is best left in one's toddlerhood, along with wooden blocks, and the sad smile a mother gives before leaving you alone in a dark apartment for the final time. I wore my joylessness like a suit of armour; occasionally pierced by well-timed thrusts into the soft spots under the armpits, but ultimately keeping me safe from when true joy failed. Joy is like heroin. You can't just ride a continuing wave, but must keep getting yourself back to a rough baseline. Joy is not exponential, but sporadic. It fades quickly and returns fitfully, and in my case hollows out my husk even further with every coming.

Layne Staley once sung that he could feel the wheel, but could not steer, which was in context with his thoughts becoming his biggest fear. Staley was saying, not too cryptically, that although he knew what was happening with his drug use, and had a grip on his reality, he was in effect careening out of control to his death. This is how your sturdy host felt when his fleeting moments of joy were being overshadowed by a crushing darkness. Do you fold top-pair against a fiercely raising opponent, and a flush-draw on the flop? Mostly you should, unless you're an idiot. And I have always been an idiot. You take that fucking gamble. It has to come good 23% of the time. Except, to modify the analogy, if your top-pair turns to quads and you win the hand, you get to eat your chip stack while your opponent tells everyone else at the table how bad you are at poker.

Imagine being stuck in a bullshit Army barracks in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by slack-jawed morons and a boss that hates you. Imagine if your only solace was grueling gym sessions, solitary binge drinking, and the hope that one day things might improve. Now imagine if, amidst the gloom and the sad distractions, there were brief moments of joy. Imagine if a phone call, a Skype session, a little handwritten letter from someone that you worshipped, would cut through the darkness and let you bathe, fleetingly, in the light. Imagine the boost to your morale if, once every few weeks, a whole weekend would open itself up to envelop you in that same light, still fleeting, but with enough luster to postpone the impending darkness.

Imagine a shotgun blast to the head. Imagine injecting that massive speedball into your veins. Imagine, if time could slow in those instances, how you'd feel seeing the shot rattle up the barrel toward your face. Imagine feeling the heroin and cocaine coursing through your body, and feeling the envelopment of each opioid receptor as you sink slowly into the spot where you'll soon be found, bloated and purple and alone. Now imagine seeing every photon as they are absorbed finally into the physical realm, riding their respective wavelengths until they turn briefly to heat before disappearing forever. Imagine seeing your light disappear until the final quantum fizzles into blackness.

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