It hit 1 am and still, there I was, just sitting there. Staring at my laptop, flittering through my newsfeed on Facebook, idly switching tabs, Googling this and that and the next thing. I had stayed up because I had been feeling like I wasn’t doing anything with myself, or with my time. What progress I had made. Initially I could at least have argued I was doing something useful; I spent the first half hour or so looking up various conferences and events going on near me, then I spent a while researching local shamanic practitioners and teachers. I wrote some questionable poetry after that, and once I’d posted it to Facebook I just sort of, lingered there.
Writing, I suppose, feels purposeful; I can angle it that way, at least. There wasn’t anything I really wanted to say, so it was mostly redundant, but the act of writing gives some sort of pseudo-meaning to my behaviour (or so I argue). I’d taken up that rather odd thing I do where I write as if I’m some sort of out-of-body narrator, looking over my shoulder, dictating what I write. I first started writing like this in high school during an English exam: I described, in my essay, the act of writing my essay. This form is slightly different, though. It isn’t quite sitting right just yet. I could feel my head struggling to make sense of the tense and person (albeit it inconsistently, I believe I was writing in first-person past-tense, which made little sense as I was describing events as they happen). It is as if I was writing this directly for the person reading it, which is inevitably at a time later than my actual writing it.
So I was writing in the past tense, describing what we would intuitively narrate as present tense? I think so, but might it be more correct to say I thought so? See, at this moment I can’t say whether I think so. I don’t know when you’re reading this, so it’s impossible to say what I think right now. In this very moment, I have no idea what I think, or where I am, or if I am; I can only describe what was. Once I got in to the swing of it, it became quite natural to narrate things as if I was someone else entirely. Someone simply documenting what was going on. Someone with no active involvement. Although, I was the one actively involved, wasn’t I? Surely I can’t argue, and expect you to believe, that the me that typed away that night and the me deciding what would be said are any other than one and the same?
I paused a while, but not nearly as long as I would have were it not for me standing watch, seeing the pausing (see otherwise that pause would have gone un-noted). It’s funny the way things flow when I write like this, for it all just rolls off the tongue. Well, strictly not – since I’m typing – but you get what I mean. It’s as if rather than doing any thinking for myself, I simply let it all out. I just observe, and document; nothing more needs done. It’s all ready to happen, and does just so.
It feels massively different from other times that I write. I sit, I ponder, I fret, I do and undo. All so caught up in my head that in the end, nothing much tends to come out. Now, though, there is nothing to filter – there is just what is happening. Me, sat there, eyes darting between the screen and the keys. I took a moment, but no more, to marvel over how automatic something like typing becomes. The familiarity breeds automaticity. Repetition is learning.
It became difficult to really know what I was writing about, as there were very few pauses for me to look back over my writing as I normally would. Normally, I’d barely get a few sentences ahead without having to backtrack, edit, and rephrase. This is different though, and in fact as I wrote that line I think I realised why. This is the way I feel when I’m painting – not in control, in a sense, despite being the one doing the actual doing. There is still, somehow, that removal of myself from the process. With my art, I let the paint flow chaotically, but not without my controlling where the chaos goes. Now, as I type, yes I do decide what is written, yet, I have no choice over what is written as it simply what is happening.
Half an hour in, and I do hope this all makes some sense to you and reads relatively well. Not that there has to be any point to it, since I was simply writing to imply some sense of purpose; really, there never was one, yet perhaps it has emerged or will do so.
My thoughts seldom stray when I’m in this state. Be it painting or writing, there is at that time only that. I felt my mind wander ever so faintly, and wondered when I might go to bed, yet it is as if I’ve frozen that thought and it’s just sort of hanging there while I continue. I’m acknowledging it, yet making no attempt to answer. I pause again to try to make sense of the tenses – surely by now I’ve jumped back and forth several times, I really am not too sure. It feels difficult to keep track, because I’m aware of you. You are the one messing this all up. If it weren’t for you, then there would just be me. I know that you’re there, though, and so it changes everything. I’m caught in some impossible place between now and then (rather now and now, but it makes no sense to distinguish it like this).
The idea of time is ridiculous anyway. It makes absolute sense, and helps us out tremendously in getting to work on time, and getting to Tesco before they close; in the way it constrains our sense of reality and the actual dynamics of our existence though, it does get a little annoying. We see things so linearly, and feel so compressed by the ticking of the clock, as if time is literally passing – as if it literally exists.
Those words didn’t quite come from me, or so it felt. Sure, they were written by me, and are just the sort of thing I’m likely to come out with, it just didn’t feel like me saying it. When I thought about it, none of this does. Perhaps it’s the way I used the tenses, it might have somehow bypassed my sense of involvement in the process of deciding what was written, and simply I was doing the writing. The decision came from elsewhere – from that sense of there being an elsewhere. From the sense of there being you.
I stop to breathe and close my eyes for just a heartbeat. The black landscape behind my eyelids seems to swell and morph as I let out one deep breath. My mind feels remarkably still as I let myself back in. Now it feels like me writing. I let that division, or rather the idea of that division, dissolve, and I stepped in to its place. Really, there is no me, or you; those ideas fall apart as soon as we try to establish them. For one, every reference to either of us is reversed when it comes time for you to read this – and as for when I read it: who am I talking to then?
I feel this will have made little sense, and be little more than a distracting, if a little dull, read. I’ll go back over it, but I plan to make a point of not really editing anything. I want to preserve whatever that strange flow state was, or at least the resulting pages of text, of which right now I have little memory. This reminds me of my first blog, Living Stranger; the bulk of my writing there was messy, disjointed, and disorientating. I enjoyed it, yet felt it served little purpose. Just like this, it had no meaning – yet, can anything mean nothing?
I’ll leave you with that, and a request that you keep the conversation going. I’d particularly like to know what you felt about this piece, as it’s vastly different from anything else I’m writing at the moment. For the most part I’m working on informative, and somewhat personal, articles for my other website – so this was a strange off-the-cuff experiment. It relaxed me, so I might make a point of doing this again, and if it’s something that – for any reason – people like to read, well I would like to know that. That way, I’ll know whether to post this stuff, or just delete it after. I’d like to post it – I’d like to fulfil the prophecy of this moment: this instance, where I become you, and we trade places.