My mind has always seemed to work against me. In my mind I kept remembering things that never happened, but they always seemed so real and so true-way more than the most messed-up deja vu. In my mind I always pictured some ideal, distorted image of both what my past was and what my future would be. In my mind I lived a lifetime in four minutes, cramming a kaleidoscope of hopes and fears into a nondescript neural mush, punctuated only occasionally by brief synaptic jolts of electric panic. In my mind years passed in seconds and every experience compressed itself into a microcosmic caricature of what had actually happened. In my mind the constructive destruction of every searing catharsis and tortured overanalysis always seemed so absolutely necessary, even though I came to learn that all of them would devolve, with increasing speed, into insignificant passing punchlines. In my mind, the universe always had a hidden agenda, and I could never ever forgive or ignore what I wasn’t allowed to know.
Soundtrack (mp3): ‘They Always Run’ by Low Tide
And why not? The devil may prize idle hands, but idle minds? Those are his masterpieces, and mine was surely one of them, because my mind really seemed to function as if it belonged to someone else. I would wake up in a place, a time, a head I didn’t recognize, and yet I knew for certain that it was mine. I would stagger back through the dorm to a hot shower and have to ask Colin what the fuck happened to me the night before as we watched Laguna Beach burn to the ground on live television, and when he’d answer, he’d call me by someone else’s name. I would float through campus and bail on tests and blow off class more and more often. I would have to call Lisa and apologize for my drunken idiocy and endure her wrath like a man without remembering what the fuck I did to deserve it. I would have to drag my ass to soccer practice, but then spend every ounce of willpower to forget the days where my academic scholarship teetered on the edge of my ability to lay off the weed. I would start to question what the fuck I was doing here in the first place, and if I was even supposed to be here.
Then the next day I’d wake up relatively sane and wonder why the tidal angst could be so powerful, and if I would be considered a clinical case by some eager young jackass interning at my father’s office, some kid who needed a test subject for their thesis. Oh sure, because of course six billion other people had their own problems, and most were undoubtedly more profound or valid than mine-in whatever measurement of truth by which existence rigs itself-but dismissing all that gets real easy when the bullshit falls away and the stark brutality of existence’s binary equation asserts itself. It negates the false nuance of experience-every worthless epiphany and petty mind game and pointless abuse of reason, every perpetuated inequality and unpunished imbalance-and undoes everything that used to matter. Everything that you were told, taught, promised, or forced to ingest by anyone who clung to the wisps of their own disintegrating moral authority.
Because what really happens when your whole world gets inverted and then you have to adjust to a new reality? Do you think differently? Behave differently? Do you become an altogether different person, or just a warped variation of the person you used to be? Does the guy I see in the mirror still retain the self-actualized construct named “David Eric Haynes” even after that construct has been filtered through so many new paradigms as to be wholly unrecognizable to anyone who knew him previously? Or even to himself? I mean, right now I sure as shit do feel like a different person now. I want to do what someone like Roy does every day-go out and grab life by the balls and twist it to my will, as if everything were a crisis that Must Be Solved Right Now, because that’s how I feel and that feeling won’t go away until I do something about it. I’ve never felt that way about anything before-I was always happy to just let stuff slide and not take anything personally, or so I’d told myself on umpteen thousand occasions.
But this time…well, this time feels different. This time, I absolutely must know how things play out once my gravity no longer affects the orbital paths of everyone I know. I need to know what they say about me when I’m not around, I need to know how everything I’ve ever been or been a part of got misinterpreted so that I can set the record straight about more than a few things. I feel haunted by all the what-ifs that seem to hamstring my life and subtly hobble my existence-all the missed opportunities and botched chances and frozen moments of indecision that have tripped up my weak psyche and derailed the smooth, linear ideal I was supposed to be following for the rest of eternity. What if I made a different choice in a critical situation? Or what if I made a relatively mundane choice at an apparently meaningless point in time-that nevertheless evolved into a profound, life-altering decision? Or what if I had the chance to do it all over again, and had the guts to do exactly the same thing? I can’t seem to admit things like that to myself anymore, and I have no idea why.
Yeah, as if no one else has ever regretted anything, or lied about regretting anything. Lying to paper over the ugly parts that worry or fear about the direction life has taken them-as if they have no choice and simply must go wherever circumstances pointed-because they made choices and they’re gonna have to fucking live with those choices; they’re going to have to delude themselves into whatever acceptance will help them stagger through another day before the boundless realities of unconsciousness conquer their minds every night. Minds that boil with confusion and convulse with doubt. Minds that slip the leash and wander through time and space to face the awful truths of Within-to stare down the Universe and look God in the eye-but still fail to see anything, and in the end they always run. They always-theoretically-return home to their soggy, three-pound cages and take comfort in the fallacy that it was all “only a dream.”
Well, it may be a dream for them, but for me it is real, because my mind is all I have left, and there’s no ameliorating or muting or repressing that fact. In my mind, the truth is absolute, because no one knows what it feels like until it happens, and by that point they’re already so far over their own particular event horizon that nothing else matters anyway. In my mind I am King Of The Damn Hill in ways no one else can ever fully understand, because they either don’t know-or don’t fully realize-that this is all you get, dude. This is it, so you make your marks where you can, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. There’s still some daylight left up here, and I’m just trying to hang around long enough to use up my fair share before it all burns away.