I feel the pain, that particular pain that makes me retreat into myself, that makes me try to hide within my own body. I feel it often. So often now that I don’t run anymore, yet I do not smile, not yet. I’m not quite ready.
I hear them laughing and I cannot stop my heart from beating a little louder. Thump, THUMP. It hurts. I hear them walking down the wooden stairs and my chest begins to pound, each footfall is another kick in the gut. They are coming. They are coming.
It all points back to the early years when it seemed that there was no danger, when safety fell from the sky like rain and it formed puddles around my soft hands, letting me know that there would never be any kind of danger.
In my youth I was cheerful, kind , and, above all, an obedient little girl. The very sweetest and kindest are most susceptible to conviction. That’s what I’ve come to learn. When they suggested that I take them into my heart I did just that, rather than pretending, like everybody else did, rather than playing along, leaving my insides untouched.
I did not know the limits as a child. I was too slow to catch on to the ways of the world. When they bade me to accept them I opened my arms and flung wide the doors to my little heart and cried:
"Come in, come in! I am ready!"
I have to stop. There’s only so much I can explore before the pain becomes too strong. I feel a vortex of energy coming now, I feel a vacuum growing within me. I feel the pull of a star-less space, a microscopic black hole in the very center of my core reactor.
There is a tug on my toes. My attention is going elsewhere, like waves on a shore that only recede, it’s going to a place where little spindles fly in circles and dive into my joints. They join together, tight as a brick in my jaw and then I cannot talk. I cannot laugh or smile. I am stuck. It’s hard to move, it’s even harder to breath.
I go back. I lose myself in thoughts that may make me forget what I am feeling.
That was how it all started. Very innocently, with the best of intentions. My crime, of course, was, is and ever shall be an indulgence in conviction. While immersed in a culture of images there can be no greater sin than sincerity.
They returned, stronger than I had ever known them and I opened the temple of my mammalian countenance and threw back my head to howl an invitation:
"Come in, come in! I am ready!"
My attention returns because they are coming. They are coming down the stairs. That’s what I tell myself. It is because of them that I feel these metal pincers squeezing at my damaged heart. Their voice, their laughter, their rules, their sucking in all the energy of the space, pulling me out and robbing me of my smiles and my air. Anxiety swirls around me like a conscious whirlwind, moving to the right, to the left, wherever I step like a fast-footed athlete. They are the reason, the source, the pain. That’s what I tell myself. That’s what I have to tell myself. Even if it doesn’t really help, even if the pain remains intact and I still can find no real sanctuary.
I asked them inside of me. There was never a more generous or hospitable offer to make, nor shall there ever be.
Now I hear from others that this is a very frightening and naughty thing to have done. I hear from human animals that this is a bad thing, what I did. But how could I have known?
There was no one to ask, no one to consult with, back when it was happening.
I am not ashamed to have looked into my own innermost quarters, into the depths of my being, into the secret crevices of my mind and discovered that there was darkness there, a true darkness that pulsed with forbidden life.
I am not ashamed to have discovered that I am but a mere mortal, an animal alike in my fears and desires to all other animals. I am not ashamed to have made a sacrifice of that animal on the altar that we call a lifetime.
I could now hurt and blame them and that would be my story, a story I would remember and tell myself, just like I tell myself all these other stories. The little explanations that last until the carousel breaks in a puff of smoke and all the plastic animals tumble out. It is so easy to place the cause outside of me. Just so easy.
Pain comes from the outside, from the Others.
Pain is caused by the Other.
But there are only habits. A myriad of habits that multiply endlessly in all directions. The habits of politics and speech and body movement. The habits of the machine, transmitted and programmed since birth by parents and school and friends and church and society. The learned habits of an entire culture run amok through this body of flesh and bone and light.
Each bio-machine has a thousand habits. Each is convinced of their ultimate rightfulness.
Can I transcend these deep habits, so ingrained that I mistake them for the sky?
I say clearly and loudly:
“You may keep all of the rewards in store for the obedient animals, I will take all of the punishments reserved for the strays.”
Freedom is paid for with responsibility, accepting the consequence of my actions and inactions. I will try to be faithful to my purest impulses, to my open hearted wonderment and willingness. I will accept my worst nature, my cowardly yearnings, as they are mine too, and I will be the one to master them with open eyes and a gentle hand.
I hear them coming with the force of a train, my habits begin to creak. The pain begins. They bring their own habits, they exhibit them. Their hands move wildly. Their voices rattle the walls.
But it is the clash of my habits with theirs which hurts. It is the reaction of one bio-machine to another. The Other has a different set of habits. There is no fault. There is only learned mechanicality. The differences are what cause the pain. The clash between what I want and what they are. The clash between how I want things to be and what Is at the moment. It is the clash that causes the pain. Not the Other. The Other is just me in a different form.
My kingdom is in the invisible heavens and hells, embedded in every shadow and every reflection, in every grain of sand and every tear drop. I am all that have breathed and ever will breathe. May I live in small gestures that grow grander, may I flow through subtle shapes that refuse to take a final form, may I rest on gentle hues and whispered murmurs, may I flourish under this veil of mortality. May I then invite then into me with a true and open heart:
"Come in! Come in! I am ready!"