The Ether Dome

Nothing should ever own you or possess you. This sentiment grows stronger and stronger as the years pass by. I cannot rid myself of the longing any more than a bird can chew off its beak or a worm grow claws. The act of spreading roots and allowing them to burrow into the earth greets me from afar like a pale horseman wielding a bag for my head and a scythe for my wings.

The thought of complacency and stillness lunges at me with aggression and I feel like I'm being strangled by the vines of an old sickly tree. Pulled down into the dirt writhing, thrashing about in blinding horror. My nostrils burn from the stench of charred skin and thick amber. I long for unfamilliar streets and strange faces. To disappear into the white noise with my feet bound by nothing beyond the simple, singular desire to keep moving. To advance. To halt at the brim, stagger at the sight below and then resume the journey. The direction is a moot point.

But now, I am at a standstill. Trapped in ice. A strangulation of the senses. The world trudges from dawn to dusk like a rust-covered mechanical beast and I feel like I've lost a vital piece of my soul upon some long lost subway ride into the concrete grave that once resembled a rabbit hole. Some days I look into the mirror and realize - with profound, glaring dismay - that I don't know who I am anymore. The man in the mirror has a dour, grey glint to his gaze and his weakened voice rings tiresome and hollow. His back is arched and his head held low. The air around him hangs petrified, rife with the scent of defeat. How did this man come to replace the one I distinctly remember being?

There is an unkind but sobering truth to realizing how many times you've spread yourself thin at the expense of so many dreams and aspirations. I don't know if I'm rushing towards something or just functioning like a machine unable to turn itself off. No one sees how far I drive myself, but I'm used to being the one not seen coming. I'm not racing against the sunset for accolades. But I just don't know what motivates me at this point beyond the impetus to remain in motion. Something needs to snap into place.

For all my efforts you'd think I'd have more to show. That's the real punchline here. I've broken my back on numerous occasions trying to wrestle things off the ground that are limping on the windowpane to this day. I wouldn't take back one minute, but the growing pains of the present serve as a painful reminder of the eulogies of yore. I've conciously let myself lose count of how much faith and fury I've poured into endeavors that eventually withered into the wind, but no matter what anyone tells you, every setback takes something out of you. The notions from others as to how this or that didn't amass more traction has always served not only as a mirror image to my own sentiments but as a poignant accusation lodged smack-dab in the middle of my forehead to remind me that I was the one who failed. I was the stalwart captain saluting the reaper between bulk heads caving in to the roar of the ocean. I feel like it's all my fault. There is no one to blame, but it's my fault.

Faith and fury. I used to think those resources were in endless supply within.

I sit here and daydream of a better tomorrow filled with exploration and excess and creativity and fertility and triumph and meaning and belonging, all the while painfully aware that I will wake up to a dreary, monochrome existence that thrusts me into a mold so unbefitting my bones are crackling under the strain. I draw from the handful of joyful moments and the few friends I have left like a vampire to withstand the grind, ever watchful and hesitant in fear of crumbling before unprepared eyes. It's no wonder my phone never rings. And it's my own damn fault.

All I've ever needed is space to breathe and something to write or play on. I duck my head down and get to it. I can survive on very little if left to my own devices, the gears within are perpetual and self-sufficient to an alarming degree. But it's a very lonely process. Sometimes I worry if there is anything I wouldn't sacrifice in the face of the creative impulse that grants me license to breathe. It is a daunting thought, I know, but you have to know yourself to be able to elevate yourself above your own shadow. Whenever doubt arises I recall the most poignant lesson life has ever granted me; I am not part of the machine, merely a rogue component masquerading as another point in the row. But I am slowly losing myself in the crowd. I am losing the sound to guide me home.

Time is disappearing at an alarming rate.

I am constantly surrounded by noise. Faceless, nameless noise that shrills and lunges about, tugging at my perception with bared teeth, demanding acknowledgement. The want is all-encompassing. The howl of static swarms and swells in all directions like a miasma of flies, spraying the air with a nauseating cold ring while slashing echoes reverberate throughout every bend and crevice. Through it all I know the loudest is my own voice. I feel like I'm ushering baubles from one grey eminence to another with as much skill, expedience and dedication I can muster, yet without exception remaining an unnoted, shadowclad subordinate. I turn my back on another day feeling unappreciated and worn. Sometimes I feel like I've tried to give so much I forgot to check what I was leaving for myself.

Watching the seconds bleed into oblivion brings into view a crushing truth: I haven't been able to record a note or write anything of real significance in months, save for this whimpering testimonial of my inadequacy that stands before you. Something is severely wrong and the fact that I can't pinpoint the cause is staggering me down to my very core. Ambition leaks out of me like drops of spring water from a rusty drain, in tandem with my instinctual need to create that has driven me so fiercely through thick and thin for decades. Days pass by in a hectic blur and my hands are too heavy to seize even the smallest moment in my grasp. I am lost, aimless.

My meager accomplishments fall by the wayside like pebbles of sand. I used to think they elevated me higher, grain by grain, but I'm not so sure anymore. My legs are burning and my pace is slowing down like I'm treading quicksand. Perhaps I'm sinking into my own mess. The milky mounds of sand crackle under my bare feet as I take another sluggish step towards whatever the fuck I'm walking towards with persistence that's beginning to resemble blind obsession. My head aches with the endless cacophony of disparaging thoughts and some days all I can hope to accomplish is enveloping myself in some trivial, featherweight distraction to grant myself a measure of peace. But the noise remains deafening. The same grandiose accusation engulfs and entwines my waking hours with boiling breath and molten words: I thought I'd be somewhere at this point. I thought I had enough of something to achieve something.

When the grey dawn finally emerges after another dreamless night, I awake to find myself feeling like a maggot at the bottom of a glass jar. Every day I race towards the top, desperate to break free of this worldly incarceration and to fulfill whatever there is to fulfill outside this transparent enclosure. But my grasp is frail and the road too slippery and too steep. I arise, climb, tumble down, catch my breath and try again with renewed vigor. The act itself has long since lost its concious motivation beyond automation. It simply must be done. But one day! One day will signal this maggot's reckoning as it miraculously emerges from entrapment, armed at last with the gift of flight. One day!

But that day hasn't come. My role remains that of the larvae stuck to crawling on cold glass, haplessly reaching upwards. For what? Redemption, reassurance, recognition? I don't even remember anymore. It feels like the jar has slowly been filling up with ether, separating me from my senses and drowning the view in milky indifference. I may not have sprouted wings and the lid looming above may be as far as it ever was, but something is numbing the impulse to ascend and advance. It terrifies me beyond words. Never in my life have I felt so... sedated.

In the end, all I can hope for is a sight or sound to guide me through this austere landscape bereft of landmarks or even the vanishing point of no return to strive towards. It is lightless and lifeless, and no matter how hard I try to convince myself that I don't belong here, it's still the place I find myself in. In a glass jar, filling up with ether, drowning out the music alongside the noise.

This is no place to live.