Thursday, May 04, 2006

making an effort to join the phenomenal world

My head is full of voices. That's ok. It doesn't mean I'm crazy--at least not crazier than most. If the voices were 'outside' my head, then maybe I'd worry. But I'm not hearing angels telling me how to save France, and I'm not hearing dogs telling me to commit grisly murders; mostly I have your garden variety neurotic stream of consciousness narratives going blah blah blah round round round round like the Beach Boys. The problem is that they drown out the phenomenal world--so that I can't or don't hear or see what's going on under my nose. I don't see the tasks at hand. They're chatty. So chatty. They are mostly also full of shit, and act as a kind of blizzard of distraction, so that I can be listening to them and driving 80 mph on the highway and look up and realize I've gone ten minutes without seeing the road. It's making me snow-blind.

But more than that, these not-so-helpful voices, the legion of storytellers, the mind-bandits, tend to set me up for things by creating wondrous epic dramas of projection and then tormenting me with cruel disappointments when the external world flouts my internal scripts. I don't know if "writers" hear more voices than other people, or what, but this merrie band of brain-robbers hangs out in the sherwood of my synapses and sit around a-robbin and a-stealin and sometimes, yes indeed, they strike up a never-ending chorus of the Beastie Boys if I am threatening to get away off somewhere with reality for a change.

I am convinced that the solution to most major depression/despair/ennui/negativity and so on is not in taking happy drugs, but in somehow getting the Merrie Men to can it, or at least to change their tune, or to somehow stake them *punkt* through the heart so that they are blown to dust like the vampires in Buffy. That's one of the points of doing Zen practice. It gives you a stake to puncture the voices,and it teaches you to sit still and be quiet. If I remember from experience, if you sit still and stare at a wall for long enough, the voices get really really desperate and noisy, and then they throw tantrums, and eventually they get tired and shut up. But it takes a long time. And until then, you'll be delighted with discovering near-total recall of song lyrics, tv shows, jingles, movies, memories, encounters, etc, until you're deafened.

Of course when the voices get really quiet you discover they've just moved into your body. Suddenly sitting hurts like hell and there is no Greek chorus to distract you from it--physically, the sensations I recall are the certainty that the ligaments in my knees were slowly parting like string cheese and that if I stood up I'd fall apart like a marionette with severed strings; bolting, shooting sciatic pain from the ass-bone up my back, kind of like electrical shocks and then settling into a steady internal pain sort of like microphone feedback; the delightful (and surely psychosomatic) certainty that my ribs are actually caving inward and puncturing my lungs, so that every breath is like being knifed--and this comes with a rising sense of panic and the absolute feeling that if I don't stand up RIGHT NOW I am going to scream and scream and scream and scream; pins and needles, needles and pins; heart feeling like a bruised bag, part cat-guts, part lead; oh shit, there's the tearing sensation in the knees again, and then I start to sweat, and a fly settles on the corner of my eye, and if the bell doesn't ring soon, I'm really going to lose my shit, I'm going to stand up and scream, drop my baggy zen pants, piss, kick things over, what the hell are all these smug diamond-shaped bodies doing sitting there like that? can't they hear it? can't they feel it? and suddenly I'm one of Poe's madmen, screaming YOU FOOLS, IT IS THE BEATING OF HIS HIDEOUS HEART!

Yeah, why am I going back to Tassajara?

Because... I think, I hope, I believe that after the madness, if I stay with it, comes a pool of sanity, of vast, unconditioned sanity and from that pool I, you, anyone can, as Issan Dorsey says, "take the water of compassion and pour if over your own head", and then I/you can pour it over others. And that, my friends, is what we're rounding up the Merrie Men for, and that is why I am going to sit on my ass and feel my knees tear and my lungs fill up with imaginary blood and panic and panic and panic until the panic passes and then? and then?

Who the hell knows? I guess I hope I find out. Every time.


Blogger Juan Bodley said...

Was it the book "The Telltale Heart" where the heart cut out of the victim did the murder in??? I've got two under my bed that don't stop screaming at me...

Seriously now...I've got tons of voices floatin' in my noggin; most are the fears of lonliness (I fear that most...nobody understands me,) the fear of failure, and other personas I could be and they all want center stage. I could drug them but I fear the quiet; then all I hear is the ringing of impending deafness. The future looks cloudy from here...

Believe in you, AmyJo. I do. You can't hide from the world with your personality. Explode the boundaries of the universe and live life by YOUR rules!

2:37 PM  
Blogger Boz said...

I like the voices, songs, soap operas, poems, short stories, plays, movies, rants, screeds, truths, lies, confessions, et al running around in my head.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Jonnie 7-11 said...

After you leave Tallahassee, I think you should go to Alaska and pal around with Donald for a few months. You should be his biographer!

9:51 PM  
Blogger Juan Bodley said...

Go on a soul quest. Or a vision quest. Or go in search of the ellusive McDLT that McDonald's used to serve...

1:45 PM  
Blogger Jonnie 7-11 said...

The hot stayed hot and the cool stayed cool.

6:55 PM  
Blogger AEP said...

I remember that. It was even queerer than the McRib.

10:18 AM  

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