Before I went to bed, my mother gave me some small bites of food. I felt like a disabled animal being nursed back to health, but I didn’t care. Appearances were no longer of concern to me, much less for the benefit of my mother. In fact, I’d been ‘holding it together’ for so long – in that crudely normal way – that I thought I owed her the honesty. No: I wouldn’t sit up, puff out my chest and say That’s life! or I shouldn’t complain! or I need to stop feeling sorry for myself! or any other such quippy, fortune-cookie bullshit. I didn’t need to say these things – pronounce them – for them to be true. Instead I’d decided I was taking a break from the world; from the plethora of bollocks that we feed ourselves on a daily basis to convince ourselves we’re doing okay and It’s all part of a plan, and of life’s great tapestry of shining, self-servicing, narcissistic, craft-shop tattle.
I’m taking a break. Would you like a smoothie? Super-foods only: the anti-oxidants will make you less depressed! – Fuck off. You should get out and about – join a club; meet some people, occupy your mind! Jog-on you Tantric sycophant! But darling! You need to get right back up on that horse! Mother, have you ever ridden a horse? It fucking hurts!
So I let her feed me. I let her coddle me and nurse me, like an invalid; like an injured animal at Nature’s mercy. Because it gave me the peace and quiet to think about anything and nothing, and retained the view of me as still being too fragile to bear the outside world and its fucking horses.
On one such day of thinking – wandering aimlessly through the town, barely dressed up for the outside world and outside-people – I passed by a quaint café with wooden, Parisian-style bistro chairs and tables outside, bordered by miniature conifers and colourful, potted plants. As pretty as it was, it was entirely out of sorts with the surrounding area. A young man entered as I passed and seemed to freeze in the door way, stuck in thought, or simply stuck – I couldn’t tell. For a moment, I recognised the same physical manifestation of being (momentarily) at odds with the world and its visage. I wondered how I hadn’t noticed it before, or how people don’t notice it more generally: that moment when someone disconnects, and in so doing steps out from the background landscape of life as if to ask: Wait…what? What’s all this? A moment later, the young man continued his journey inwards, though with discernible trepidation. He’d seen something, stepped out of reality in shock…and stepped back in, now changed, now different. The difference is, I hadn’t yet stepped back in to reality; I was content merely dwelling in this ‘outside’ place looking askance at everything and asking: Wait…what? What is all this?
As chance would have it, a little while later I started to retrace my aimless wandering to my mother’s house and, passing an empty bus stop with a driver just pulling away, was nearly knocked clean over by a lady sprinting to catch the bus. She was late, clearly. Not merely for the bus. Something bigger. A ‘meeting’ or something equally prosaic and pointless. But, as she turned back towards the pavement (she was standing in the layby at this point, staring after the bus) I recognised the same disconnect. However this was less of a fleeting moment. Less unexpected, as if her connection to the world had been fraying and straining all day, and was at snapping point. Our eyes met – and they met in the ‘outside’ space. No flailing curtain of reality between us: just the naked ‘stuff’ of the world, reflecting photons and various waves of this and that. I cursed myself for presuming she had been just another unwitting apologist for the world, and was merely late for meeting of little material consequence. I thought: Here is someone who has experienced the disconnect. I thought: Here is someone seeing things plainly, as they are, and is wanting to understand. I thought: I should buy her a coffee.