You grow accustomed to the quiet. It becomes a blanket. It keeps you warm and insulates you from the world. You could reach out. You could speak. But the longer you wear the blanket the less you have to say. You lose interest in what is out there and since your very Self is out there you lose interest in that as well.

Art is a reliable mirror. One you can depend on. You find your despair in a jagged guitar line. Melancholy in a minor chord. Loneliness in a well-written, well-drawn comic book panel. Come to think of it, it is largely through art that you largely found and constructed your Self. There I found the validation, companionship and understanding that I sought…that I seek.

In your typical fashion you want to vacillate between idealizing this way of being and completely devaluing it. Between leaning all the way in or destroying it. You resist the urge. You decide instead to continue describing it.

When you stay under the blanket long enough the outside world becomes a dream. You walk through a supermarket and somehow the people seem less real than the song or the characters in the book. If the cashier asks you about your day you watch yourself respond as though you were but a passive observer.

You no longer know what you want and need. Your thoughts become foggy and your emotions are a big ball of everything and nothing. You lose the fragile calm and reach for the novel or the movie or the comic and….there you are. You find your Self. Not directly. Just the reflected image of different parts. Just enough to cobble together a modicum of solidity. Enough to get you through.

Is this living or is this just a life support system? There you go again, trying to categorize things into polarizing opposites. The truth is that it is both and everything in between. Day to day and minute to minute it means something different. You can, even if distantly, see that you use this to avoid life. You can stand one foot to the left and see a staggering sensitivity to art, a truly felt sense of why it is so important. A few inches to the right and you pat yourself on the back for your resourcefulness. One inch back and you can access the crushing loneliness. Four inches further and you see how in many ways you are never alone.

And now you have spoken. And you check in with yourself and realize that you don’t care if anyone hears; that the blanket is thick. And you know that there is something both wonderful and sad about being free of expectations but also, perhaps, short on hope. And you know you must feed yourself. Not because you are hungry but because you feel weak. And so you will eat.

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