Blink is the name of a book by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s about thinking without thinking. Maybe there is room for a book called Blank. It would be about not thinking without not thinking. That’s what I’ve been doing lately. Blank pretty much describes it. It’s not that I haven’t had thoughts or inspirations or creative ideas but holding on to them, sorting them out, confining them with words has been a bit beyond me. My mind has been a huge swimming pool and I’m floating on top in one of those comfy air mattresses. You know, the kind with the fancy cup holders and arm rests. While out on the water, I have fallen asleep. If you listen closely, you can hear me snore. Actually, you probably don’t have to listen closely at all. I snore very loudly.
Part of me is feeling more than a bit uptight. Floating, snoring, not doing anything feels too self indulgent. Guilt pokes me and I awake. I hate guilt. I imagine myself tying concrete blocks on to the legs of guilt. Guilt is an ugly doll, an old prop from a Twilight Zone episode. I drop the blocks and watch them sink to the bottom of the pool. Guilt sinks too. I shouldn’t have watched. Guilt tugs at me with steely eyes and I dive down to save it. Tossing out old ugly dolls from creepy Twilight Zone episodes is harder than I thought. I make it back to the surface and return to not thinking without not thinking. Guilt floats along side me in a tiny dorky raft with all the 60’s kitsch possible splashed all over it.
I sigh. I’m awake now. No more snoring. Just a lot of deep heavy sighs that express a fatigue that almost overwhelms. I’m tired of this pool, this guilt. I want to be floating on some beautiful azure blue water in the Caribbean or near a deserted island that has been set aside just for me. I imagine the life that would match such an aspiration. It is as distant from this life as the life of a cockroach is to the Queen of England . . .roach hotel . . .they check in but never check out . . . or Buckingham Palace. Despite all the PR obligations etc., I know which one I’d pick in a heart beat. The Queen of England has pet Corgis. Cockroaches don’t have dogs as pets. It’s a no brainer. I aspire to be a Queen.
Guilt and cockroaches have gotten in the way of my dreams. Yes, guilt and cockroaches sum up what’s wrong with my life. With this realization, my mind begins building a storage unit for my guilt and cockroaches. It uses those old little boxes, the kind with the sleeve and slide out drawer that holds the wooden matches. Quickly, they are glued together and my mind starts painting and decorating before I catch on to what’s happening. I think to myself without thinking that these would make groovy Barbie furniture. Next thing I know my mind has latched on to the Barbie furniture idea and is busy building groovy things out of Kleenex boxes.
“Groovy! Mind, you’re making an awesome pad,” I say to myself without really listening.
It’s an awesome pad for Barbie but not for me. I’m not Barbie. Never was. Never will be. The guilt and cockroaches crawl back into view. So much for arts and crafts Barbie furniture as a distraction. Guilt and cockroaches can be that hard to exterminate.
I want to return to blank but now that I’m on to what I’m doing, I can’t. This not thinking by not thinking isn’t working for me. Why not give thinking without thinking a try? I blink and in the blink intuition speaks to me in a whisper. “Trust what you already know.”
I don’t want to hear this. It requires me to change in ways that feel odd and uncomfortable. Fear wraps itself around me like a concrete blanket and I begin to sink just like the guilt I had tried to off only moments before.
A picture of Houdini flashes in my mind. The real Houdini and Tony Curtis who played him get mixed up a bit. They struggle while lashed together by chains under water. I’m completely out of the picture. This is supposed to be about me, about my feelings, about fear. It’s hard to stay underwater, to see this struggle clearly, to be present in the now. This isn’t not about Houdini or Tony Curtis, or swimming pools, cockroaches or Barbies. . . it’s about me. . . about how I feel. How difficult it is to stay with the feeling, to look at it, to hold it, to own it. Blank: it’s what I want to feel. As hard as I try, it’s still not working.
I blink and I’m back underwater in the grip of this dilemma, this familiar dilemma. This is where I need to be. With my mind, I trace the outline of my body with a stick of fat pink fluorescent chalk. Yes, I know I’m underwater but in my mind all things are possible. Why limit myself to Barbie furniture? I can build and decorate a life, the one I want, the one that guilt and obligation try to block from view.
In a blink, time is gone. The line between me and the rest of the world dissolves. I breathe underwater. I am the water, fluid, strong, soothing, fierce. I am trillions of droplets in one. I am the ocean, the rivers, the rain. I live in the sky and in the sea. I cover the land with mist and wash it clean with my rains. I am the rain. I have my reign. I am Queen after all.