Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mind Palace.

The thing is, I used to think in words; they were always sort of there, always a part of me. They kept me sane, organized, sure of myself. If other people saw pictures in their heads when they would daydream or concentrate, if their minds could conjure up brilliant images to illustrate concepts or thoughts, I saw words. I saw letters, punctuation, full complex sentences winding their way through the contours of my brain, printing stories into my mind and bleeding out into my eyes, my throat, my hands, my heart, and finally onto paper, where I could look at a tangible translation of my thoughts and say, “Yes, that’s exactly how I feel, that’s exactly what I wanted to say.” In this way, words rarely ever failed me; the right words were forever at my fingertips, and I could rely on them, these magical things that came so easily to me, as a means for expressing myself.

I don’t think in words anymore.

At least, I don’t feel like I do. I rarely do. But I don’t think in pictures, either. And because I’ve never thought in pictures and I no longer think in words, I’m left with a mixture of both, this sort of strange in-between mess of colours and concepts and ideas that seem to drift through my stream of consciousness, merging together but failing to combine into anything logical. If ever the words do come to me, it’s only during those fleeting moments of delirium that creep up on the edge of sleep, when a few ephemeral words might materialize, a couple strings of sentences will pass through, only to evaporate into the all-encompassing fog that is my brain, my mind, my…whatever.

Whatever; that’s a word that seems to appear often. Perfectly vague, perfectly useless. The perfect word to use when I don’t want to finish a sentence, when I just can’t articulate my thoughts, which is pretty much always nowadays.

And I don’t know what happened to my words, where they went, and if I’ll ever be able to find them and bring them back. Even worse, I don’t know why they left in the first place. Maybe it’s because I didn’t take any classes this summer and my mind has slowly been turning into soup due to lack of stimulation; maybe I’ve been given too much time to think these past few months, and there’s a danger in that. When my mind isn’t distracted by school and deadlines and stress, there’s no telling where it might wander off to, the ways in which it might strain and twist itself to try to reach an understanding. Maybe there’s a limit to how complex our thoughts can be before they become untranslatable, utterly impossible to put into words. And maybe that’s not a bad thing, but to me it’s the most frustrating obstacle in the world.

Recently, I had a visit from a friend who is about to go off to university, and we spent most of the time we had together just talking. We walked around town, laid down in the grass at a park together, and talked about the world, society, sex, and what it means to be human; the oddness of relationships and social expectations, the essential meaninglessness of life, and the prospect of an afterlife. We talked about how people don’t go anywhere when they die, and how it isn’t death that we are afraid of, but time; dying before having the chance to properly experience the world. We talked about how, in the grand scheme of things, nothing that we do in life really matters, and laughed at how ridiculous society is for trying to rationalize irrational things. We talked about how fucking weird everything is and debated the existence of free will. And as we got deeper into conversation, we came to a point where we literally couldn’t talk anymore. We kept ending our sentences with phrases like, “I just, I don’t even know,” and, “It’s like, just, arrgghhnerfnergnuhnuhmne, you know what I mean?” And we always knew, there were just no words left; no words that were big enough or important enough to adequately describe what we were feeling, because we didn’t know what we were feeling.

That’s the frailty of language, I suppose; it doesn’t cover the enormity of the human experience. But who can expect it to?

That’s why I don’t blog as much I should, and that’s why I don’t spend hours writing like I used to. All this summer idleness has got me thinking too big for pen and paper, feeling so deeply that it’s nearly incapacitating. Maybe once school properly starts, the words will come back and balance will be restored to my aching brain. But until then, I’ll continue to think too much and revel in how weird and wonderful and inexplicable everything is.

And maybe that’s okay, for a little while.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Walmart and Things.

As I stepped outside this evening to take my dog for a walk, the smell of wood smoke drifted through my neighbourhood, filling my lungs with a familiar warmth generally reserved for late autumn and winter outings. Inside my house, a fire roared in the fireplace, lively and bright; earlier in the day, my mom and I had huddled around it, desperately trying to distance ourselves from the bleak weather outside. For the past few days, the sky has been nothing but a solid sheet of grey and white, stubbornly blocking any bit of sunlight that may be trying to break through. The temperature has remained fairly consistent, perpetually fluctuating between 55 and 60 degrees.

It’s also the middle of July.


Where on earth is the sun?

There’s so much I have to get done in the next month, so many things that I wanted to accomplish this summer. I’ve had countless “To-Do” lists etched into my brain and written in my journal since the day my college classes ended in early May.

I need to make a definitive decision about which colleges I’m going to apply to in the fall.

I need to write down all of the application requirements for said colleges.

I was going to get a head-start on writing my Personal Statement for CommonApp.

I was going to study for the SAT.

I was going to finish my online ASL classes.

I was going to write in my blog more, exercise every day, make some quality YouTube covers, and get a job.

And then this weather happened; the unrelenting grey, everywhere grey and white and mist, these days where nine O’clock in the morning just lingers on and on and on, making my eyelids droop, killing my motivation, making it seem like I’m driving into some impending doom every time I leave the house. It’s put me in a slump. It’s dragged me into an intense and inescapable boredom, but not the type of boredom that drives you to find something to do, like measure every doorway in the house or count the number of tiles on the bathroom floor, or conduct experiments with the ants that live in the kitchen cupboards. It’s the type of boredom that sinks so deep into your bones that all you can bring yourself to do is sit and stare out the window, listening to each second on the clock tick by, wishing that this day would just end for god’s sake so that the next one might be better.

So today, my mom and I attempted to find our way out of this slump by going to the mall to peruse the scented wallflowers at Bath & Body Works and perhaps purchase some nice-smelling items. The mall in our area is, of course, equally as, if not more, dismal than the atmosphere outside, but whatever - it was something to do.

After about twenty minutes of sniffing candles, testing lotions, and getting trapped into an awkward conversation with a saleslady who had made individual names for every single animal-shaped air freshener container on display, my mom and I found ourselves wandering aimlessly around the mall, wondering where to go next. We walked almost the entire length of the mall, on the verge of deciding to just turn around and go home, until…

There it was. The entrance to Walmart, in all its mediocre glory. Should we go in? we silently asked each other. Do we dare? I’d never really been to a Walmart before, at least I didn’t think I had, and I’m all for new experiences, so we went in.

“Now, we’re going into a Walmart that’s much smaller than what you’re used to, honey, so don’t get all upset.”

I turned my head around and saw a woman holding hands with a young girl entering the store behind me. Good god, I thought to myself, how big does a freaking Walmart have to be for a six-year-old to be satisfied?

It wasn’t very crowded inside the store, and soon my mom and I fell into step behind a creepy-looking guy who was slinking through the aisles, carrying nothing but a plastic orange ball in each hand. I was instantly weirded out by this, but what struck me the most as I observed the inner-workings of Walmart was the vacant, empty look in everyone’s eyes. When I looked at the people roaming around the store, I didn’t see ordinary shoppers going about their everyday errands; I saw mindless drones pushing carts around, their eyes glazed over as if their souls had been sucked out of them. Couples walked together and talked, their mouths moving but their faces lacking any other signs of life; a woman passed us in the Pet Food aisle, taking no notice when she almost slammed right into my mom; a toddler sat in a stroller unattended, staring absently off into space as if he had been drugged. I’m not exaggerating when I say that my experience at Walmart was like something out of a horror movie or an Orwell novel - and I was genuinely frightened.

I’m still frightened, to be perfectly honest.

Prior to waking up this morning and going out, I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I would spend the rest of my summer doing absolutely nothing. As day after dreadful day wore on, I became more and more content with the idea of just existing for the next year, listening to the seconds on the clock tick by, waiting until the moment when I would grow up and my life could finally start. But as I walked through the aisles of Walmart this afternoon, something finally snapped inside of me. I realized that I was scared because when I looked at the people around me, when I looked into their soulless eyes and expressionless faces, I didn’t just see a distressing representation of the current state of humanity; I saw a reflection of myself. I thought, Is this my future? Is this what my life is going to turn out to be? Just mindlessly going through the motions of life but not feeling anything, not really living? And I realized that if I continue to spend my life like I have for these past two months, just passing the time waiting for something to happen, that might actually be the case.

So I’m going to stop waiting. I’m going to finish my “To-Do” lists, no matter how dreary and depressing the weather might be. I’m going to spend this period of my life, trivial as it may seem to me at the moment, doing something worthwhile. I’m going to read and write and learn and feel and love and think and create and try new things.

And regardless of the sensational amount of writing material it may provide me, I am never stepping foot inside a Walmart ever again.