I have felt a wee bit isolated the last five days. Mainly because a throat infection has kept me pretty much housebound (and practically speechless) during this time. My biggest conversation (if my monosyllabic grunts count) has been with my uber-precise German locum, Heinz. The good doctor told me about pus and mucus and all manner of bodily fluids. At least the drugs he has prescribed are making a dent on killing those nasty bacteria that are currently squatting in my body for an extended period in the full knowledge there is no mean spleen landlord to drive them away.
My body is my temple. My body is my temple with a lot of graffiti tarnishing its image.
I have spent the time at home sleeping (fever induced), remotely logging into my work email to deal with any emerging issues (with a whole new batch of work being piled onto my already very busy team), and editing novel number two. It has taken me five days to work my way through the editorial comments covering the first sixty pages of the novel and only one of the eight major plot changes offered as part of those comments. Hard yards. So much more to do! But feeling good about the improvements to the text - it lifts my spirits a little and compensates for the current crappy health karma.
I was quite struck by reading the following phrase during the week: "There's a beautiful world outside of my unlocked cage, yet I have the tragic courage to remain inside." I haven't really had a choice this week. I spend half my time at work lecturing my team about staying at home when they are infectious, the least I can do is practice what I preach. At least I am over the worst of it. Just reverting to my normal hermit leanings now (especially with a lot of novel editing to do). I do have friends I want to (and will see) while I'm recovering because I like their company as much as I like writing. (Aside: yes, that is a big call.)
It hasn't always been so and sometimes it still isn't so. I wrote the poem below, called Fringe Dweller, during one of my periods of complete disconnect:
Like oil to water -
sits on the surface.
Efforts to mix are fruitless.
No matter how much agitation.
On the outer looking in -
hard to see what is within.
Watching a whirlwind of activity.
Without opportunity or scope
to understand its meaning.
And never invited to participate.
Good enough to talk to in small doses.
Being that close to the boundaries
offers a unique perspective
- worth a cursory examination.
But never explored to gain insight.
Feelings kept at a distance.
The walls are set high.
provides a shield from the
constant attempts to make an impression.
It’s safer that way.
That sense of invulnerability provides security.
Except never more isolated.
It was a deliberately ambiguous poem implying both that the person whose perspective is revealed may be forced to be a fringe dweller among others but at the same time has chosen to be so by building barriers around their true self. The person has chosen to be invisible. The person thought it would be easier. Less risk of being asked awkward questions. There were very strong themes of disassociation and a lack of commitment in that poem.
I wrote the poem at a time when I was really thinking about the black box that lies deep inside of me (you know, the one the holds my essence and all the things that define me) and was wondering if I could ever really learn about myself if I was not prepared to reach in to grab and examine its contents. Then reach that "tacit point when you hear the click of the safety cap” and realise that something has changed. Most people do not recognise when they go through the moment of transition. Most of us "spend our life half asleep – without freedom – living lives of quiet desperation”.
Is the change a logical or emotional experience? Is it incremental or evolutionary? I was drawing a lot of “Mecca” cubes back then too and asking which face was the front of the cube. How my mind perceived this cube was my visualisation of change as a break in thought – a shift in focus – of disconnection before reconnection.
I have learned alot about myself since then mainly through the process of writing my first novel. While that novel itself is a piece of fiction, its exploration of philosophical themes is really my exploration of such themes. It is an illuminating snapshot of my own journey to understand the absurdity of this world.