We joke about the way my mind works. The way it bounces along, a series of musical notes, sung by a soprano, an Aria given form.
From A to B to A to D to G to C to D. And back to A.
Give me enough time and I usually come back to the beginning. (A very good place to start.)
I try to find my point. Like a seamstress with a needle and thread. I hold these tools in my hands and imagine where I want to go. Some days, I can see each stitch exacted with surgical precision.
Other times, the synapse misfires, a torpedo swerving drunkenly in the sky, unable to lock on its target, crashing instead into a tree. It explodes, a hellstorm of fireworks raining angrily upon a misty mountain range.
This is the damage: the clusters of white which amass amongst the gray matter- a juxtaposition between the living and the dead. This is what remains.
The truth is brutal and blunt and beautiful.
We laugh about the seeming disconnect between one thought and the next, the way the lines lift and separate like the cords of a parachute, taut one moment, the next, billowing above the ground, then sagging and collapsing in among themselves in a tangled mess.
I struggle. Struggle with the lines. With the notes and the needle. With the mess. With the truth.
I fight what simply is; this only serves to create more chaos. Rather I should bow to grace and accept what is. Find the fun, explore the unknown. Be fearless. Strive to be better.
I will not accept that the dysfunction, the stasis and white noise are permanent. The white matter may not change: that brain tissue, and all it carried with it – memory, meaning, context – are gone. Yet new neural pathways can be forged. Small bits of memory remain, like flotsam, like the pieces of a puzzle; it is up to me to create a new picture altogether. It is so easy to get angry. It is unfair. It hurts. This is so hard. I am the judge and the judged. I hold the gavel. Sometimes, I can’t seem to remember that I also hold the key.
So you remind me.
I create my freedom.
We see the small changes for the better. The return to a thought thought abandoned, then remembered.
The steady gait.
The lyric I write.
The good fight I fight.
There are so many miracles in this body, this mind, this life of mine.
How exquisite, how fragile is this ecosystem, wherein my heart and soul reside.
I must grab hold of those “good” things and hold on tight, pulling them ever closer, for recovery has no end: it will never equal “better”.
And still, knowing this as I do, still, I will chafe against the good, I wrestle with the truth, I ride this wild horse, these emotions, knowing the buck will come too soon and I will soar before I tumble to the ground. I know the hurt will come. I know the good remains. I live this conflict and I go to war with myself over and over and over, my battle cry, fierce and hoarse and weary.
We talk about my moods. We work the details out. We know what is to come and yet the shock of the swings still sting.
There will be days that come on easy, as sweet as a Jasmine breeze on a warm summer eve. Fireflies will light up the night. So, too, will times pass where each step is a struggle, where surfing the walls is how I will best get around. The sky will be heavy and the clouds, pregnant with rain. Where a deep gray mood presses down and into me like a great hand from the heavens.
The good days and the bad, if it can be that simple, will all bear one same simple fruit: truth. Physical, spiritual and mental energies will fluctuate –sound waves, rising and falling in some spasmatic pattern across space and time -from one minute, (one hour, one day) to the next.
The alpha and beta succumb to the Theta. We know this, don’t we? The mechanics of this mind are damaged, at once asleep and trying, trying so hard to wake again. How do you prepare, how to protect? How, when the hurt just hurts and scars can only fade?
Today, I am a spluttering old jalopy, put-putting along, emitting noxious fumes as I start-stop, start-stop, my engine bruised, coughing, my core weary… I brave these roads, some, less taken, others, known…crossing bridges, bridges, old highways and ridges, and always, dusty roads. I am in motion- but jerky, awkward, halting …unable to just cruise.
But maybe… just maybe….
My mind roams free, an eagle flying strong, all-seeing, easy-riding the currents of the wind.
Creating, building, working…
I am a prize Stallion –proud, bold, a creature of grace and stamina- a rare breed, a triple cup winner.
A sleek racecar that has been around the track, breaking records, catching fire…
My thoughts will return home to pasture, to wander and rest under a field of stars, leisurely meandering …tired. My legs feel thick with the journey. It is as if I am wading through beds of tar, through pastures filled with high grasses and wildflowers, and on … on, to uncharted turf, sometimes getting lost, sometimes, unable to find my way back home.
But you will be there.
When so much passion has been spent and minds are hushed and quiet, and days roll past like an old picture movie… perhaps we will return to instinct, then, doing what comes, coming and going… Making like cattle – slow and steady- grazing from one patch to another across the endless prairies of the great Midwest.
You will be there.
For those days.
And for every day, the hard and the soft.
The hazy days. The grinding days. The long and winding days.
The ambling-along days … days of not-much, or too-much, and days of just being…The path will be muddy and messy and …I will be there too.
Rebecca Simone Schmitz