I’m starting to lose my mind.
It’s not all happening at once, but rather slowly, more tortuously; each day and even more, each night my sanity deteriorates – fragments of my personality secede and form independent states which then rise up in conflict with the first, a grisly civil war erupting within my mind while the world slumbers soundly.
To be honest, I can’t keep up…. I’m not entirely sure who I am anymore.
I have many names, and as many faces. I’ll not reveal them all to you now; instead, in the spirit of mystery, I shall keep them hidden away and let the breadcrumbs fall freely. But before you may know “me” as I am now, you must know “me” as I was… before my mind began its great dissension, breaking away from the man I was becoming to create a monster, a madman.
So, let me begin by telling you a story. I’ll do my best to be concise.
• • •
It’s been almost five years since the first separation. I remember waking up in a hospital bed to the sound of an EKG beeping, my mother crying beside me, and a voice telling me that I was still alive. That it was only the beginning of something far more grand, a destiny yet to be fully realized, binding me inexplicably to live. That I was cursed to live, to live and to never sleep; and when I did sleep, that I would dream only of suffering and death – I have done precisely that, ever since.
Seldom do I sleep – for, when I do, I always dream of different ways I might die: sometimes by burning alive, or drowning, or suffocating; often by falling or suicide… It always ends violently. Dreams have been a burden to me, since that quiet day in August.
I wouldn’t say I’m suicidal, not precisely; rather, I find myself yearning to understand death. Longing for glimpses at it, marveling in the mystery and the beauty of it, in wonder of the great enigma which follows close behind each one of us.
An “ordinary” person might say I have a rather depressing outlook on life, and death, and on dreaming… to which I might reply, “If you want to understand, simply kill yourself. Then, you will see how clear my perspective really is.” Whereas I failed to properly take my own life, I must now reconcile my continued existence – by thoroughly understanding and remaining cognizant of the very thing which I was so eager to facilitate: mortality. And so for now, I live on and covet those who find peace in parting.
And then came the voices.
So many voices, all crying out in my mind at once, filling my head and overwhelming me to the point of madness. I’ve pictured myself putting a bullet in my head more times than I can count – only to find silence and escape those awful voices; to have a moment, just one fucking moment to call my own, in solitude.
Throughout history, many great people with brilliant minds claimed to have heard voices at some point in their life: Sigmund Freud, Charles Dickens, John Nash, Joan of Arc, Socrates… even Mahatma Ghandi. Perhaps one day, children will learn about me in school, reading about my many exploits in life, and of my condition.
Perhaps they will read of a lunatic who lived a tortured and hollow life, condemned to suffer quietly within his own imagination until the day he met his violent demise – if my dreams are of the prophetic nature.
Perhaps they will read my poems and stories, losing themselves in my imagination – a dangerous affair, traipsing about inside my mind; for mine is one of dark and twisted reveries, fractured and filled with shadows.
Perhaps future generations will look back at my life and see a man who wanted nothing more than to be loved and remembered, to become a part of history, as one whose mind was complex and terrible, in many ways more advanced than any other of our time or times long past – but the scholars would never consent to it; they’ll simply scoff and call me a narcissist and an egoist, the bastards.
Perhaps history will not remember me at all, and how should it: even I have trouble remembering who I am…
I can think of no greater tragedy than to be forgotten,
offered up to the ages as a sacrifice to make way
for memories of warlords and tyrants.
Surely, it would be better to strike every record of war from our history books than to leave out a single poem, or song, or story of hope or love. Indeed, it is the most grievous of injustices to subject our children to an inheritance of learning of death, destruction, and lies, when we have the power to pass down a torch of reason and life and truth…
My children will know truth: that reality isn’t always as it seems; and as for this world, even less often is it as it seems – hardly ever, as far as I can tell. The vast majority of people live their entire lives blind, deaf, and dumb to the world around them, ignorant of the chains that are tightly fastened to their arms and feet and necks, weighing them down, forcing them into a life of slavery. So many are born every day into servitude – to god, or to man, or money… And for what?
So that they may be forgotten with the sands of time; cast aside after having been depleted of every last ounce of energy?
So that they are consumed by a lifetime of endless, cyclical consumption; conquered and controlled by their own hand, and of their own free will – reduced to nothing more than an infinitesimal fraction of a decimal point in the immeasurably long remainder of some faceless, nameless man’s pocketbook?!
That is not the legacy I shall leave behind.
But I digress and, for that, I apologize. The subject has this affect on me… a different tirade for a different day, I suppose.
Back to my story.
I’ve discovered subtle ways of detecting echoes of my former self. For instance, I know the former “me” is present when I hear music (in my head, that is), and more specifically, when I hear an elegant classical symphony being composed impromptu, for no one else but myself. Music is, for me, one of the only constants I have experienced in my life; it is my Gibraltar, my great fortress. I can lose myself in song and feel absolutely safe and carefree, impenetrable to the noise of the world outside my head.
I have had an ongoing love affair with it since I was a child; therefore, it is only natural and fitting for you and I both to associate my former self with music, that you fully comprehend the magnitude of the affect this had on me from childhood, in order that you may better know who I once was, and was becoming.
I’ve been able to hear that private symphony for as long as I can remember, clear as day in my head. It has been a lifelong partner to me on this journey, one that saved my life more times than I care to try to count or mention. And so, it brings me great sorrow to say: as my mind continues a rapid descent into the dark waters of madness, so too my ear is flooded with chaos that drowns and chokes my mind until that sweet symphony is no more than a distant, reverberating wail.
The farther down I go, the more horribly disfigured the symphony becomes; until I feel a hideous creature lurking in the depths below, ready and waiting to swallow me up whole.
But occasionally, on days when I sit alone and quiet, ever-vigilant and patiently waiting for my love to return – some days my patience is rewarded generously, in song. On those days, something happens… It starts with a tingling in my chest that spreads throughout my whole body until I feel the muscles in my face contract and bend into a very familiar smile. On those days, I am at peace; I am truly happy, for I catch a glimpse of my love, my symphony. Even if only for a moment – to hear my orchestra strike up together, weaving a wondrous movement… the feeling is extraordinary, even if it is merely a shade of its former splendor.
Ergo, I know that there is still something left of me inside my mind. A reflection of a reflection, perhaps, of the man I was and would someday become.
Alas, that man is gone; he died almost five years ago…
We’ve been fighting to hold onto him ever since.