Dirty rain overflows the drainage ditch that bisects the neighborhood. Sewage, rank, richly odorous, rushes through outflow pipes, spraying into the air like sputtering pyrotechnics and forming huge fecal pools in a river christened two months ago with an undulating blush-pink film of flowers.
Then, early summer enters like an outrageously costumed actor bursting out from beneath a center-stage trapdoor. I eat the first kakigouri of the season: chunky ice crystals marinating in a sickly sweet syrup of condensed milk and artificial vanilla flavor. My head pounds from the resulting sugar rush. My mood depends so much on the current physiology of my body. Mind and matter are inextricably linked, to the point that I feel my consciousness most strongly in the thrum of my blood, the cables of flesh that are my limbs, the pulpy mass within my abdomen, the wet tails of my eyes extending via interlocking nerves into my brain, that limp, damp ball of gray unleavened dough. I don’t understand my mind and body as separate entities, but as clay lumps forced together so tightly they become indistinguishable. Maybe the most accurate way I envision myself is by thinking of a ladleful of primordial soup: clumps of hydrogen and carbon glimmering on the surface like streaks of fat, sulfurous smoke rising from the top. No body, no mind. Just a puddle of crushed compounds stringing together spaghetti strands of tortured thoughts that slither out, tadpole-like, after days of bubbling percolation.
The sunlight streams in from every direction, but I walk along the riverfront numbly, unsteadily, as though swimming through fog that fills my mind like a sea of synthetic liquid glue. For the fourth time in as many years, I am leaving one workplace and joining another. It’s not unusual to experience many transitions in a short period of time, and in general I do not fear change. The gig economy is all I’ve ever known. Its shifting sands have been shifting and sighing underneath me all my life. But I start to wonder if the changes I make are symptomatic of an inability to make the final choice, to stick the landing on the final twist of the “life’s purpose” knife. What salvation is available to those of us unable to pick a profession, choose a hobby, maintain a consistent group of friends, or keep a stable self-image? I think the notion of meaning in life is a fiction, but I have dog-eared those pages too many times to coyly play off its effect on me. What to do when you know something is false, but you cling to it more fanatically than the truth?