I woke up underground. It smelled musty, like dry earth or your grandmother’s attic during the midday heat. But it also smelled like banana bread.
None of this is particularly explicable. There was neither earth nor bread about. Just another reminder that our perceptual experience of the world is subject to error. (Neuronal misfirings are a pet hobby of mine.)
So I woke up underground, but I didn’t stay there. I longed for light and the gentle caress of free wheeling air, a breeze, a stiff wind, the invisible shifting of the wind! Anything but the staleness of the fake mausoleum in which I found myself.
In the dark, I reached with my hands and began to map out the space, eventually discovering a door.
I opened it quickly. Some dark gravity wanted me to stay in the room, in its banana-bread night and its warm-blanket stillness, but I pushed forward, unconvinced with such lies.
In the morning, in the light, I discovered I was strange.
I was free, and I was wierd! It was a mixed sort of elation!
The open hand of joy grasped me by the shoulder and spun me about!
It was 2010 and I was alive and free! I felt all of nature, that tumultuous system of death and renewal, come suddenly thrumming up into my throat; I transformed it into a bellow. Onlookers gawked with wonder to observe me! Wolves and yetis were impressed! I was expressing myself!
I had forgotten my name and the “details” of myself, but not how to speak and not how to transform and alchemize my impulses into art.
This is important I told myself. I may not be a person, but I am certainly a principle. To survive I need not do anything but react in real time to the events present and immediate.
Which might be false, but was a comforting notion just the same. I am short on planning and stratagem. My memory is inconstant and fickle.
If awareness is the knife-edge of intelligence, memory is almost certainly the blade, and mine is made of some unlucky alloy, weak and sometimes unserviceable. It could not have been strengthened by my time in the dark.
I made a promise to myself to bellow. Now that I was free, I would compete with the wind!
And in some ways I have kept that promise.
My time above has been unexpected. It has been different than I might have imagined it. Being underground had changed me, so that although I felt ready for new things, ready for new experiences, although I replied “Yes!” to the questions asked of me, I often felt unprepared.
The world above is full of beautiful, well-meaning people, but time and again I found I was more comfortable with my own company.
It is fatiguing to watch people make themselves busy. Everyone is busy.
I am also busy, in the sense that I am imbued with purpose and occupied with manifesting that purpose into the world. But the businesses of others seem to move at different speeds and often to me seem to be inconsequential. Or manufactured so strangely that I cannot fathom their consequence, at the very least.
So I have resolved to let others to their tasks, and pursue mine on my own, with my own two hands, unencumbered with company.
I bellow! That is my purpose and definition.
The stupid, raw joy of being!
It is an obvious statement, but I am simple and favor simple things.
In addition to bellowing, I spent a little of 2010 occupied with other, sundry tasks. I sewed myself a cape and learned to prance. I read. I felt smug. I chewed a bubblegum and drew pictures of candy. I sang.
I preened, and posed for myself in the mirror.
I conquered Daneland and placed Hrothgar’s head on a pike.
On the advice of David Lynch, I began to meditate.
Meditation is nice; I recommend it.
Nothing calms me more than bellowing, however. The more noise I make on the outside it seems, the quieter and happier I am on the inside.
A strange equilibrium.
In 2011, I hope to maintain this balance. I hope not only to stay above ground, but to climb. To find taller mountains from which to roar.
I hope to sear the sky with my irreducible joy.
Also, I hope to learn my name, and remember it this time.