4 am Questions

Your thoughts toss and turn their way to darker pastures and half-dreamish realizations. Your conscious self isn’t awake enough to retort with the usual barrage of denial. There are ashes of your previous conception of reality falling here and there around your sleepless body.

What’s a recurring dream you have?

I rarely dream.

Tell me one you used to have.

Crashing in a car that someone else is driving.

Something else.

Discovering new rooms in a familiar house.

How does alcohol make you feel?

Like a happy fool. Like a sad clown.

How does food make you feel?

Like having more food. Like getting rid of it.

How do you feel?

(Irrelevant.)

What’s your best memory?

Making up imaginary stories in the darkness of my room.

Are you often alone?

Whenever I can.

Are you lonely?

A bit, yes.

Who’s to blame?

The witch. The spell of Fall. Trickster gods.

Why you?

Why not me?

Do you deserve it?

Probably.

How do drugs make you feel?

Different. Powerful. More like myself.

Do you need them?

No.

Where do you think self-destruction stems from?

Misdirected creativity.

Why aren’t you OK?

Sometimes I lose the ability to feel good just by being.

What do you do to feel good?

There’s a hierarchy of things. Once you do enough of one thing, you need to climb up to another one.

What’s the hierarchy?

Air. Sun. Music. Entertainment. Sex. Alcohol. It.

What’s “it”?

An ox that has made its home inside my body.

Why?

To devour things so that they can’t harm me.

When does air stop being good enough?

When my breath doesn’t flow. When I’m too impatient to get it to flow.

What about music?

When every song becomes a fix.

What are you scared of?

Time. Moderation. Losing control.

What happens if you try to resist?

It eats me from the inside.

How do you feel if you keep resisting?

Like my organs are snakes trying to get out.

Where does it hurt?

My stomach. My throat. Between the eyes.

What can you do to help?

A hot shower. A walk. A phone call.

How long does that save you for?

Until it decides to come back.

What are you running away from?

Clichés like this question.

_________________________________________________________________________

I became interested in how the mundane sometimes has this underlying scary quality. Unexplainably disturbing, uncanny, but also with a tint of absurd humor. When someone is talking and you can’t help but see the monkey behind the human face instead of listening. Or when the late morning light comes through the window and sets off a sadness that you feel deep in your stomach like hunger. But then you laugh.

Contradictions are my favorite thing. If you look you’ll find they’re more of a rule than an exception. No one is coherent. There’s enough room in a person for many seemingly irreconcilable things to coexist. Here are a few random examples. Alan Watts spent decades writing about zen and the inherent oneness of all things; he died an alcoholic. Jack Kerouac inspired a generation; he ended up converting back to Catholicism and died from his alcohol abuse. And John Lennon was a woman beater.

You could say I’m disillusioned by the fall of idols. It becomes harder to take their message seriously when they don’t walk the talk. Humans are imperfect of course, but doesn’t it seem insane that men who spent their lives spreading peace and love would end up so destructive of themselves and others? It’s one thing to theorize about the dualistic nature of things, to speak of Yin and Yang and see nature as a generous but cruel mother. But to see hate where you never thought it would be… to see that simple things like addictive substances and comforting religions could triumph over what seemed like enlightenment… it’s fucking disquieting.

Anyway, that’s the cycle. Without any adversity to face, there would be boredom and that’s not much better. There are no saints, no gurus, every brain has its reptilian part. We live in a world where people become millionaires by profiting from wars and polluting the earth, so I’d be careful with believing in Karma.

Nevertheless, if you can get over genocides, disasters and other forces of destruction that often seem to spare those who might deserve it, there is still something beautiful to be observed about the universe: it rewards courage. Not directly, but by providing meaning to those who stand in the face of their suffering. Whether that’s a product of our psychology or inherent in the workings of the world, we’ll never know, but subjectively it’s true and that’s what matters.

So always do what you don’t feel like doing because of fear or habit or laziness or complacency. Honestly, if there’s anything to learn from our experience it’s that we never regret trying something new and uncomfortable. When it feels like too much, you don’t stop, you slow down, you redirect or go around, just explore every option until something feels right at the core.

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