Too Much Skull Air
[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]
She feels a bit rutted," I thought to myself. A bit scratchy around the temples. A bit ragged in the midsection. A bit dehydrated, a bit sleepy, a bit weak in the lower spine, a bit sunburnt, a bit bored.
There are too many words and not enough ways to use them. Too many words that aren't, yet. Too many words said too often. Too many people saying too many words, so the people all sound the same, and all the words sound like nothing.
I found an old sticky note in some of my office belongings that says, "I'm a step away from madness, but that's how art is made." And I wondered, for a long time, what was going on in the brain of the person who wrote that. That person happens to be me, but I don't remember my exact constitution in the moment I scribbled that down. Maybe I was hungry. Maybe I was late to a meeting. Maybe I was frustrated with the inevitable redundancy of my job. I've decided that the nature of modern employment is overly glorified at best and a slow descent into psychopathy at worst.
How many times do we need to do the same thing until our skulls hold nothing but air? I'm convinced that the reason so many people cheat on their partners is out of boredom, and most of us have fairly boring lives. But cheating is easy. A lot of people do it, and anyone could. It's an easy avenue to novelty; an accessible escape. Some of us nibble at life's' extremities instead. Adopt life-threatening hobbies, let's say. Take a mind-altering substance. Became recklessly creative. And some of us do none of that and just succumb to the skull air.
There are a lot of people with more than the recommended dose of skull air. A lot of people who wouldn't know a spatula if it hit them in the face, wouldn't know a spinach plant if starving in the forest, wouldn't know a 1099 if it locked them in their home and made them fill it out. Most of us would just die in there, one hand gripping our smartphone and the other gripping the Rumba remote. Our jaws clenched in a manic grimace. Our eyes stuck open like a half-dead apparition from a horror movie that didn't scare anyone, not even the children.
One of my favorite childhood books was Anne of Green Gables. When I first tried to read it, I couldn't understand any of it. My reading abilities were more Green Eggs and Ham at the time, less "explore the internal fears, struggles, and insecurities of a red-haired orphan girl who was adopted by a kind old man in the twilight of his life. Setting: Prince Edward Island. Time period: horses were cars. Reading level: grade 4. Interest level: grades 2-5.
I for one, would like to admit/point out that arbitrary grades linked to interest seems dumb. An 80-year-old could love Anne of Green Gables, read it many times over, and find something new and interesting every time. Most things seem artibtrary though, if you really think about it. Why are business hours 9-5, Monday-Friday? Arbitrary. Why do we like white t-shirts? Arbitrary. Who thought of car insurance? Who thought of money? Or how about the fact that all of us were born into lives we never asked for, and thereby have a more limited degree of control over our own destinies than we'd like to admit? Sort of fucking arbitrary.
I grew up religious. The sort of religious that sits in a church pew and doodles all over the handouts. The sort of religious who stayed after church for the snacks and got roped into being an angel in the Christmas play. The sort of religious that was at once too creative and too analytical to believe most of what I was told, but took communion anyway. The sort of religious that bowed her head in prayer only to be sidetracked by the many small minions dancing away in her own brain. I wasn't distracted by obsessive thoughts of myself. I wasn't sad or stupid or in need of salvation. I was simply bored, and boredom is probably one of religions' most egregious errors. If you want people to devote their lives and discretionary income to something, you'd best be a bit entertaining.
Sometimes, the weight of all that skull air is stifling.
I don't know what this has been or why you're still reading, but hello and goodbye, all at once. In Hawaii, they say, "aloha!" In France, they say, "Salut!" In Italy, they say, "Ciao!" And here, in this highly odd corner of the internet, we say, "Hi, there, come on in. Would you like some cerveza or perhaps a spot of lavender mint iced tea? Please do not stay longer than 8 minutes, or things might get quite uncomfortable."