© 2012 James Janzen or Michael B.
The word comes to my mind, seemingly the perfect description for the absence that I see. I don't know where it comes from, if it comes from anywhere. I don't even know how my thoughts are working, how every sentence of thought that goes through my brain is even there, floating away as soon as it makes it point whether I want it to disappear or not.
I can't even remember learning these words that my thoughts seem to be organized in. My mind is made up of memories that I can't remember. People that I never knew. Hopes and dreams that have no effect on me now.
Now? That word jumps up out of my thoughts. Where was I before now? Where was I before I ended up here? Not that here has any meaning. Not that there is really any good description for the place I am in, if it can be called a place. It is simply darkness, a lack of being in any given place.
Do I even exist? Am I really anywhere? Am I simply a thing tricked into thinking that I am real?
I can remember a quote. It pops into my head out of nowhere, and I don't know how I can know it.
"I think, therefore I am."
I can think, so does that mean I exist? Or is my thought process yet another thing that simply does not exist? Am I caught in a paradox, where my very being is nothing more than a lack of being?
Can I see light? I realize that there is light, as so-called "memories" come to mind. How could I "see" these things unless there is some light source letting my retinas recognize these images? These images, of a red bike, a large black dog. A woman smiling at me, a man telling me words of encouragement. Yet they are just memories, not anything that hold any value to me anymore. And as I stop thinking of them the mental pictures slowly fade away, leaving me staring into nothingness. Alone.
For the first time, I am afraid. It seems irrational, however. Why should I be afraid, when there is nothing here to be afraid of? It seems that I am afraid of exactly that, of the loneliness that tugs at me.
There is nothing. No one. I have no friends, nothing to hold onto. No hope of having future or of leaving behind a past. The only things that try to comfort me are my memories, yet they hold no bearing on me, they do not affect my emotions. They do not answer any questions.
And yet I realize I have no questions. Fear gives way to contentment. I feel safe. Secure. Protected. There is no danger here. There is no reason I should have any doubts. What is there to doubt? What is there to fear?
Another memory flashes in front of me, as if I am in a cinema staring at a screen so large that it fills my entire field of vision. This one has bearing on me, though. This one manages, ever so briefly, to play on my emotions.
It is simply a picture of that encouraging man, and that smiling woman, standing beside each other, while another man hands them a piece of paper. The memory is in the form of a single picture, like so many of the others. This is from my point of view, for once a memory that I am in. Whoever I am, I am standing to the side, watching. But am I simply watching? Attached to the picture is pain, like an unwelcome gift. Fear, as well. But above all, it seems to surround me with a feeling of betrayal.
How does this memory push aside all others to manage to manipulate my emotions? How is this memory so much stronger, so much more connected, than the others?
The contentment I felt moments ago is gone, and this question takes over. Coming back with it is fear, again. Yet now I know there is something to be afraid of. Even though there is no rational reason for the fear, it stays. It pounds away at me, chiseling into my soul.
I soon realize something else. The fear, the pain, the betrayal, the resentment, they all stay even as the image fades away. They cling to me, never letting go. The emotions that I have no control over, the emotions that don't even make sense to me, will not let go, no matter how hard I try to pry them off.
This brings more fear.
Then I feel the pain. I feel pain like no pain I have ever felt before. I know that this pain is different than the pain that clings to me, because the image that brought the pain that grips me has mostly disappeared, wafting away into the eternal darkness that surrounds me.
This terrible new affliction seems to not even be related to me, nor is it caused by anything in the darkness. This makes the darkness seem comforting, once again, and the harsh world outside the darkness – if there is one – cruel and heartless. Yes, this pain is coming from an outside source, somewhere outside my petty realm of consciousness. I want to curl up into a ball, to shield myself from the pain, but I realize I am unable to move. I am unable to do anything.