Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Skin is Not My Own

The new year is upon us. Strangely, I can't tell the difference between this year and last, as if there were much of a difference, other than a number: an hour, a minute, a day. One more year of life, counting down and counting up to whatever end or beginning my life has in store. One more year living in a world that at one moment seems both harshly real and maddeningly false. I find this notion sad and mysterious, and the thought of what my life should be but is not haunts and terrifies me and fills me with dread and missed moments of comprehension.

For as long as my recent memory allows, I have felt at home and out of place in whatever world I move through, like I'm skating on the icy surface of a lake, my present life above and the life I seek below. Every now and then, a break in the ice reveals the answer. I see someone staring back at me from the depths, both me and someone else, someone I long to be, and know I am, but lies just out of reach. Needless to say, I keep skating and the ice refreezes, the hole closed, my escape route shut off, my other-self retreating into his own existence, me stuck in mine.

This is not to say my way out is through some dark, cold rip in the fabric of space or time, or that to seek the future I so desire I must end this life to begin the next. That is not the point. That is not the answer. That is not the way...

My skin is not my own. This line comes from the novel Dune by Frank Herbert, and in many ways it perfectly describes the feeling I get from time to time. It comes when I don't expect it, triggered by a moment in a film, or notes in a song, or a passage in a book. It comes and goes and leaves me feeling a bit like a cup that has been filled to over-flowing. The rest of the water has to go somewhere, so it spills out, taking with it both the new and the old and leaving behind a mixture of two different worlds, mingling together but constantly at odds, swirling and crashing against the walls of the vessel that is my soul.

My skin is not my own. But if not mine, then who's? Who's face do I see when I look into the mirror? Who's voice speaks to friends and family and tells jokes and laughs and cries? Who's hands type this passage? If I do exist in two worlds, how do I decide between the two? All these questions, and so few answers...

So, I begin a new year. Time, the ultimate invention of man, marches on, its boots tracking across the people of the world, breaking bones, twisting bodies, bringing blood and pain. Time, our most cruel and vengeful lover. We are at its mercy as it holds the knife to our throat, ready slit. My time is far from over, but I only wish it to be better spent than wasted on thoughts of what could be and what comes after. This is the year to make the most of what I have, the first moments of the rest of this life to prepare myself for the next, and the next, and the next, if you follow Eastern philosophies.

A Happy New Year to all. As I draw closer to finding that which I seek, I intend to keep anyone interested informed... The moments of clarity are few, but astounding, and I long to experience the next.

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