The Terror of Knowing


I’m riding the edge of delirium. Over the course of the last five days, I’ve slept maybe 15 hours total. Everything is changing, and I’m feeling simultaneously ecstatic to be swept out to sea, and not just a little terrified to be losing sight of the shore.

This life change is unprecedented, and I’m amazed to find that against the seeming odds, I appear to be standing tall again at last. For so long, I was wilting in the shadows. But then all of a sudden there was this unexpected twinkle of sunlight. It was faint, but it was there. And I could feel myself starting to bloom.

For awhile I fought the urge; I tried to tamp down the need to glow, to become. I know it sounds strange, but I didn’t want to be selfish. I wanted to do what was expected of me; I wanted to be a good (dead) flower. So I ignored it and turned my face away. But each time the sun appeared, it felt a little stronger. It felt so good to feel alive, and before I knew it, I couldn’t stop.

Yesterday I glanced in the mirror and almost didn’t recognize myself. It’s in the eyes, you see. I’m afraid everyone will notice, and they can’t be allowed to – not yet. Because now I’m shining. I’m full to the brim with light, and bursting over. I’m genuinely happy for the first time in so very long, just at the moment when I’m supposed to be sadder than I’ve ever been. It’s a cruel joke, I guess. But not on me. Not this time.

The novelist and playwright James Baldwin said, “Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word “love” here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace – not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.”

It isn’t all sunshine and roses, of course. There are definite hardships ahead. This might end up being as emotionally trying as my last big hurdle in 2005. But the more the sunlight hit me, the more I bloomed, the stronger I grew, the further my mask stretched. It couldn’t help but fall off. I don’t know how I even imagined for a moment that I could prevent it. And now that I’m dangling in this uncertainty, I find I’m feeling at ease with the idea of my impending fall. Could he have been right – might it be because I’m actually on the verge of flight?

Weirdly, I think that the insomnia thing and the crazy emotional roller coaster my breakup has put me on might be mostly unrelated. I think I’m having trouble falling asleep because I’ve been so, well, giddy. Someone told me today not to worry about falling asleep – I wouldn’t miss anything. I’m starting to wonder if that’s the real reason I’m still blinking my way through this blog post. I’m starting to wonder if maybe I’m frightened that I can’t possibly feel this happy in the morning.

But I’ll leave this page, and plug in my headphones, and try to drift away for awhile. No pressure. Just me and my mix tape.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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  7. Ilya Fostiy. Is There a God? | The Bliss of Reality
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  66. Live and Let Live. | melissuhhsmiles
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  69. Under Pressure: Fight or Flight | Edward Cares
  70. Functional Procrastination… | …Properly Ridiculous…
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  76. Pressure relief valve. | Trucker Turning Write
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  80. Yeah, I will (not) be there in a minute. | meg lago
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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Doug Raymond says:

    You ever get asked which superpower you would want? Flight, strength, or invisibility? Falling is only second to flying on the list of fears of people who would choose invisibility. I used to have nightmares about falling into the sky. No earth, no space, just falling. I only recently realized that I wasn’t falling at all. It was my perspective that made a scream rather than the joy of release. I think the previous generation taught us love as a slavery due to their parents chains. The real thing is a freedom, and freedom is terrific in the oldest sense.

    1. compassandquill says:

      “I think the previous generation taught us love as a slavery due to their parents chains.” I’m inclined to agree. Last night I had a talk with my father (with whom I’m quite close, despite our sometimes extreme differences). We share a weirdly strong emotional bond, and he called because he felt a disturbance in the Force.

      I told him about my breakup, but not about my current state of glow. Some things are not for sharing with dads. He took the info given and told me that it’s always best to stay if there’s no abuse involved. He meant well, but I see now that he pictures life as a series of obligations and tethers.

      For me, life is a series of open roads, ripe with potential adventures. They’re best when traversed with a companion (I mean, come on – even Dr. Who thinks so), but sometimes you need to take different roads to allow yourself to feel the fullness and wonder – the freedom – of the journey.

    2. compassandquill says:

      BTW, the best companions? Bards, all the way.

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