I am sitting at the desk, patiently enduring the chill coming from the single-pane window, blinking away the fog of tiredness that saps my strength like a deer tick squatting on my brain, like a sea sponge, expunged from its natural environment and sold by Amazon as a dyed pink loofah, soaking up water from the shower drain. One foot is tucked underneath me—ankle strangled by thigh, bereft of blood—and is rapidly losing sensation. I am sitting in silence with the sole goal of writing something true, but I think it may, unfortunately, not be as easy as I initially hoped.
I must admit that I think of the “something true” as something that lives perennially inside me, well-nourished and lucid as genius, luminous as moonstone, appraising conditions outside my body for the right opportunity to emerge, resplendent in the last dregs of milky afternoon light. But “something true” is not a “something” that I am knowingly carrying. I do not feel it inside me as I do the digestion of a meal, or a thorn in my shoe, or a wound in my memory. If I carry anything true, it resides in me as noise indistinguishable from the plaintive chorus of cells, tissues, thoughts, organs, feelings, joys, tragedies. I cannot pluck its face from the crowd. I probe my stomach, my limbs, my heart, every part of me more meat than spirit, looking for the “something true” in the blue night, but no reply is forthcoming.
I know “something true” was here, once—I knew it as a child, as many children do, playing by myself in a corner of the sandlot, living out a tiny life rich with alien roots sprouting from dark earth. I knew I could create, even if what I made was never good enough. But the certainty of that seems to have faded as I have grown and and become accustomed to trading authenticity for commercial viability and passion for (limited-to-nonexistent) career advancement. When I write now in pursuit of “something true,” I find myself lost, more often that not, in a labyrinth wallpapered in endlessly scrolling feeds. Blinking open wetly from the ceiling, the gaze of my father, and his father, and his father’s father, falls on me like a cascade of cinder blocks. I become possessed by the fear that I should be doing something else, anything else. I forget to feed the white rabbit. Its red eyes flutter closed. Could I have already killed the possibility of my “something true” through neglect? But in its absence I finally understand how tenderly the act of creation once held me, how my day was structured around it like paradise around the apple, like flesh around the parasite, like sound around meaning, and how my life continues to take the shape of an asymptote reaching for it, for something that is missing.
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