Sunday, September 13, 2015

the temptation to be a child again

scared myself again, yes, i did. a couple days ago i felt the pleasure of letting myself completely go, the experience of not picking up my socks, or putting on my clothes, a feeling i'd never had before, except maybe when drunk. the moment of freedom i felt delighted me. and later, like now, scares me.

i sit in the bookstore cafe and watch parents and children. the adults move carefully, keeping their faces in the proper condition, while the little kids do somersaults, run up to me and say, 'HI'. smiling, something they would forget how to do by age nine, the age of reason. and i'd say to myself, 'if i did what that boy is doing, i'd be hauled off to the loony bin.'

yes, insane people seem to be out of control, following mysterious impulses. and the descent into madness does seem to be a kind of regression, a giving up of control of my mind and body. except for a difference, a very big one: the crazy seem to simply repeat patterns over and over again, no lively variety in their thoughts and actions. 

a friend told me about picking up her wigged-out teenager at the hospital. all went well until they reached the lobby. the girl bolted out the front door and down the street, her mother dashing madly after her. luckily, it ended well as her mom caught up and stopped her. i realized what had happened. the girl overwhelmed by stimuli, her grown-up ability to limit the input to less than forty while four billion hitting her eyes and ears at every second. 

artists often say, Baudelaire included, the creative impulse is childhood regained and maintained. Aristotle thought play  our greatest pleasure. especially when evidenced as contemplation. playing implies always finding thoughts and perceptions new. art does not come from mindless repetition. as Tolstoy said, it's the jumps and patterns of our nervous system thrown upon the canvas. 

why would i want to throw my hands up in the air and descend into a delightful trembling? as timothy leary faded away, he said, senility is underrated. a friend told me his grandmother a holy terror, until alzheimer's overcame her and she became the sweetest old lady. maybe i'd become who i really want to be, wild, outrageous, the terror on the tennis-court, the one who stands up and shouts, "the emperor has no clothes.'

come to think of it, it's the kind of stuff i'd do as a tyke sitting in the front pew, when i'd try to upstage my minister-father's sermons. alas, i want to be taken care of, therein lies the crux of the matter. as a adult, i do my best to see this happen. unfortunately, i still have to trudge to the laundromat, write out checks for rent, make sure i take my pills at the right time every day.

of course, if i were serious, all i'd have to do is stop the anti-depressants. i'd either jump off a bridge, start tumbling in a train station, running up to every other kid under six and asking, 'what's your name?' for better or worse, i don't believe in the complete benevolence of the state. a padded room doesn't seem all that comfortable. as long as i can pay my bills, i'll forego the pleasures of letting-go. not an easy choice, let me tell you. it's not always fun to wake up and put my feet on the cold tiles.