I sometimes imagine myself spending time alone in desolate places—places essentially inaccessible except to me. The time I spend there is not necessarily lengthy, but is long enough for me to dig out, briefly, from under all the sediment of daily life. I shed the weight of humanity in all its beauty and its ugliness, leaving only a graceful but strong framework; a skeleton that looks fragile and delicate but is, in fact, as strong as it is precarious.
This imaginary experience may sound a bit like a fairy tale, but it is more like an intensive care unit that attempts to rebuild broken and irreparable lives. Its abilities are more akin to the magic of a team comprising ICU doctors and highly skilled watchmakers than to the powers of a comic book hero. These magicians, if that’s what they are, might be called resurrectionists; they do not practice body snatching but, instead, mind and body reclamation.
Lest the reader think I actually think my visits to these desolate places seem real to me, let me emphasize I know otherwise. They are, clearly, contrivances of my mind. They arise from my imagination. And from a mind that is exhausted from dealing with an inexhaustible supply of humanity’s flaws, including those from that very same mind. I know this escape is artificial. It simply suppresses reality in favor of wishes and dreams.
I know, too, someone reading this post might well think it just another absurdist fantasy of a lunatic. And it may be. Just a laughable, pointless, idiotic rambling suitable only for memory erasure and dismissal. Given all the bullshit I write and speak and otherwise express, dismissal may seem the most appropriate way to process my thoughts. But even in the impossibly crazy swamp that is my mind, there are kernels of sanity that struggle, collectively, to sprout into forests as expansive as the dying Amazon. It is when those kernels are discarded like spoiled seed that I attempt to retreat into the desolate places that give me a reprieve. So, in a sense, I create my own endless cycle of burning down the same forest that I try to plant and nurture and save. Or, at least, abandoning efforts to quench the blaze. Catch-22. That was Joseph Heller’s phrase describing situations from which individuals cannot escape, thanks to contradictions in the rules governing those situations. In other words: “to fight the rule is to accept it.”
It’s probably easiest for people who observe my “madness” to deride or ridicule it, rather than give it serious thought. Trying to unravel complexities that may appear, on first glance, to be matted tangles of fishing line saturated with treble hooks and lures can seem a hopeless task. This post, for example. A jumble of accusations and recriminations and hopes and escapism. I could revise what I’ve written, extracting unwritten statements from between the lines, but that would suggest an easy solution to an impossibly convoluted and complex problem. So I ignore it. Except for this tangential acknowledgement that it’s there. Just hidden beneath red herrings and chronic complaints.
No, I do not really expect anyone to wade through this in an attempt to “understand” something that’s not understandable. Hell, I can’t even understand it myself, sometimes. I just know I have to imagine my getaway to those desolate places. One day, I’ll escape to a real place, a spot where serenity is assured by virtue of its desolation. Maybe unannounced road trips to unknown places. Or a one-way flight to Santiago, Chile, where a rental car awaits. I would like to drive the 15,000-mile Pan American Highway. That’s the kind of adventure I wish I’d embarked on when I was in my thirties. But I did not. It’s a tad late now.
Yes, I’ve switched gears and run off the rails and otherwise left the theme with which I began this post. And I would be surprised if anyone actually read this entire post. Skimming my idiocy and madness probably accounts for 90 percent of the “readership” of this blog. And I account for, perhaps, seven percent of the rest. I often wonder who “out there” actually reads what I write. And how does that break out between perceived obligation and actual interest? I do not know and I am relatively certain I will not find out.
It’s time for the second cup, the one that will replace the cold 3/4 cup that sits, unfinished and unappreciated, in the porcelain-white vessel.