Around the Neighbourhood, circa 2014 (Home is just round the corner, after the steep stretch)
“In the beginning there was a river. The river became a road and the road branched out to the whole world. And because the road was once a river it was always hungry.” The Famished Road, Ben Okri
It’s a long strange road back to the land of happy valleys and blue skies, full of detours, dead ends and monsters in the disguise of white knights, as well as a few good men (and women). I’m not sure I’m fully there yet, what with the sudden darkening of my mind even on a good day like this (matched by the capricious weather, all sudden showers and squirts of sunshine), but slowly, laboriously, I find myself rejoining the ranks of the sane. This is a strange feeling, happiness, and I am unable to savour it except with caution, for fear it might disappear in an instant.
‘Maybe next life time… ….’ sang Erykah Badu once. I feel that way about everything i feel like I should’ve rightfully achieved, but haven’t, due to personal failings, frankly terrifying circumstances and a wonky gene pattern.
So many things I have to postpone till my reincarnation. Travelling to Macchu Picchu, getting promoted, getting married, having kids, getting book(s) published. At least, that’s the way I feel on days like this. The rain and the damp doesn’t help.
On days like this, it’s as if the blues and the mean reds collide together in one toxic cocktail, knocking me sideways.
I know everyone hurts, though. The proliferation of suicide hotlines in this city is proof enough of that.
How terrible it is that I have to remind myself of the power of life by referring to other people’s misery, and potential deaths. But at least, well, we’re not alone – we’re all in the same mad, bad, boat.
My reading wish-list for the New Year. That is, if I ever find the energy to read (time – well, that, I have plenty of)
1. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande (please, please, paperback soon?)
2. The Lagoon by Armand Marie Leroi (again, paperback, pretty please)
3. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (the paperback problem persists)
4. The Beautiful Fall – Fashion, Genius and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris by Alicia Drake (Yves Saint Laurent grows from shy teenager into fashion supremo in this really readable biography. Dishes the dirt, but still smart and literary – at least, this is from the bits that I’ve read so far!)
5. Saga Volumes 2-4 (Why haven’t i discovered this earlier! Such glorious artwork and smart, heartbreaking writing! The most gripping mainstreamish thing since I finished Sandman years ago)
6. After Theory by Terry Eagleton (I keep promising myself I will finish this)
When does normal officially become abnormal, for other people? Is it when you get a clinical diagnosis and inform them, or when behavior simply becomes too bizarre to be ignored? For many friends and family, watching a loved one struggle with mental demons is like peering into a snowglobe – they can watch and react in perplexity and (eventually) horror for all they like, but some things are simply beyond understanding, despite the best of intentions. And perhaps more importantly, they might not even realize that what they’re looking at is mental illness itself, so blurred is the line between normality and insanity. I mean, we’re dealing with psychology here, not physics!