the same old ground
But have we found
the same old fear?
Wish you were here
— “Wish you were here” Pink Floyd
It comes in waves. These waves, tall and violent, crash into my brain like it’s a rock. My brain takes the hit but unlike the rocks that waves usually crash against, my brain absorbs their force. However, there’s a price for this flexibility — my brain avoids the damage of a direct hit but my thoughts do not. They are flooded with this fear, this fear that comes to me in waves. My thoughts are the ones that are in danger of drowning. They are the ones that have to swim.
So, in my thoughts, I swim through this crashing fear, this fear that comes in violent waves. The crash of the impact reverberates through my body and I know my thoughts are in danger. I start to sweat. And then it comes, that physical feeling of fear.
As my thoughts try to swim, I catch the glimpses of the substance of the fear. I’m 18, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25. I’m deep into the past but then I crash close to the present. The places change, the people change, I change — but that feeling, the fear, remains.
I’m not paralyzed but I’m not free. I’m back in purgatory, where I live my life. Stuck between heaven and hell, happiness and pain, life and death. The fear remains. My thoughts start to take shape, to solidify and tell me what’s wrong, tell me what I’m afraid of. But they’re beaten back with the crash of yet another wave.
I want to learn to float, to ride out the waves and look the fear in the face. I want to identify it, classify it, analyze it and tuck it away. I want my mind back. I want control. Control floats to the top. And control starts to build a wall, a seawall, to the waves at bay.
Control and it’s wall protect my thoughts. I recover my bearings and connect with my mind. The flashes stop coming, the feeling leaves me, and the fear goes away.
Control jealously guards the walls, keeping fear at bay. That’s what the fear, always the same, always different, that’s what the fear runs from. I don’t have to swim anymore, I can walk freely beyond the seawall. I stay away from the sea and that same old fear.
But I see now what I didn’t see then. I traded the chaos for control. I built a wall to escape the fear. But in doing so I fashioned myself a cage of my own design — a cage of control.
So here I remain. But in the calm I remember the fear — the same old fear. Unnamed, unformed, violent and wild.
I don’t know which is worse — the calm or the chaos?
Is the chaos worth the cage?