25 Aug 2007

The hospital parking lot

I walked through the unused lower parking lot of the hospital tonight. It was quiet and eerie, and felt profound. The Hospital, the tallest building in town. A serious place, the place of birth and death, where the business of living gets down to the essentials, the heartbeat and breath, maintaining, maintaining, maintaining, maintaining, the changing of medication, maintaining, maintaining, or failing on the fourth floor, the final floor – but at least on morphine, if you’re sinking into the place where destructive pain-management is something that might as well be done. It comforts me to think we’re decent enough to abolish unnecessary pain on our deathbed, even if our religious-nut girlfriends are sobbing on our stomachs while we’re on the nod. It was the first place I ever saw, probably the last place I will see.

A sign at the entrance to the lot said: “Exit with Caution”. Seemed extra meaningful, like it was directed at me, like it was a theme. Made me remember when things seemed meaningful. Those crazy times. Gave me hope that one day, seeking truth would again become meaningful, and not just a cheap three minute, or three hour high, a chemical dynamic, a motion gone through for self-gratification, with the full understanding that the comedown will reverse all polarities, reveal the joy and clarity to be a farce, smeared circus clouds, and all that’s to be done is to try and fight the inevitable downer with sad and desperate coping mechanisms, patterns, pharmaceutical remedies extracted from griffonia seeds, heavy metal therapy, checking out the one good ‘80s thrash band I wasn’t aware of, the one I was saving in a dusty cup of activities, 1001 Things To Do In The Information Age, digital bounty, good for maybe two hours of enjoyment, then I’d better think of something else, anything, or be forced to face the void, feel the freeze of how life is nothing but distraction, chaos that’s becoming too predictable, too patterned, meaning what we want it to mean, but ultimately nothing, like the more I know the less I care, like knowledge is apathy at best, terror at worst, bliss until the neuroses took over, and now that’s what constitutes truth: paranoia and depression, the final authorities.

How come THC is manna from heaven for just about everybody here in the valley, but I get this mindgrinder? Maybe because they selected themselves to be here, whereas I came right out of the trees, or at least the hospital that overlooks them – a genetic incongruity, trying to trip happy but stumbling painfully. I haven't liked the green haze in ages. But at least it’s interesting. Makes me think of how emotional intensity increases with age. Everything becomes a drama. An Odyssey. 

So if emotion mounts over time, making every day an epic struggle, how does that square with the fact that I'm mild mannered and reserved and self-questioning as an adult (let's be charitable) than when I was a kid? Wouldn't childhood, with all its tantrums and crying be the more emotionally intense time? No, because then, if you feel an emotion, you express it, without reservation. You cry. You laugh on inappropriate occasions. You rage. But as an adult, you've learned not to express what you feel, no matter how strong it is. You've got to keep that shit inside, be upright, part of society, this great venture we're in, this enterprise - never show your weakness, your true self, nobody wants to see that, it's ugly. Let's pretend we're different, better than we are, better than our neighbor. Who wants to be lesser, a loser? Comrades in competition, I give you: capitalist psychology. Though the commies have their own ingrained lunacy. And the middle way motherfuckers, they’re crazy too. That’s why suicide is a constitutional right, in Norway. It’s the accepted way of expressing displeasure. Wear a diaper and blow your head off.

When you're a child, a tantrum is just another tantrum. It's a release. The emotions aren't that intense because you roll with them, like a good lock in a jazz improv - they're just there, taken for granted, the purity of surety. But put the always powerful human emotions, ultimately the result of the ever-changing chemical cocktail, nesting in strange loops, into the stupidly sophisticated mind of an adult, in society, with all its higher level games, so high-level you forget they’re games – then you take them deadly serious. Then emotions must be suppressed. Then it’s a death struggle not to go berserk - death before dishonor. When you’re an adult that has got to the breaking point, to the point where you’re screaming and throwing things – that is fucking scary. Because that is deeply suppressed emotions coming through like a tsunami. And you’re not a child anymore, so you’ve crossed any number of lines. You can’t even fathom the extent of it right now. You don’t ever want to have to think about it, the damage you caused, are causing, by flipping out on your friends, your family – it’ll never be the same again, you’ve revealed your ugly, weak, self. You must be strong and finish the freak out – burn your bridges. Burn everything – to the ground. And burn the ground. Scorched earth. Scorched mind. Death before dishonor.

There is an alternative. The psyche-ward. You'll have lost control, they'll put you in manacles because you're a maniac, they'll re-boot your brain with electrical impulses or lobotomize you with lithium, or seroquel, or a surgeon's saw - understandably, most opt not to be considered crazy, it's not an acceptable way out. Emotional intensity.

What do you do with emotional intensity? Sometimes it's not enough that behavior based on feelings be suppressed. Sometimes you think it's wrong to even feel things. Or maybe it would just be easier if you didn't, then there'd be nothing you had to suppress. So you could try and numb yourself, but the brain is a beast, not easily controlled. Medication, psycho active medication, just gets you into tight loops, creates consequences, dependencies creating chronic dissatisfaction, destruction of dopamine-producing cells. So how do you change, or cease feelings without medicating yourself sick? You go through "therapy" of some kind, a self-examinating, that just leaves you more neurotic than before.

Who is you? Mostly me, but I'm not alone. Just isolated. There are others out there like me, just isolated, like me. Some in neurotic nets of co-dependency, or communal reverie, some who in theory might lead fuller, richer, happier lives. Maybe my poverty is I never sank low enough, never had it hard enough to appreciate the good, hadn't had the dao hammered into me till it stuck right through. Just halfway crazy, a mediocre maniac, good for halfway good writing.

I didn’t exit the hospital parking lot with caution, I tripped on the curb, it was my birthright, something to do while waiting for the death of night.

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