Friday, August 31, 2012

the life inside a day

Saint-Séverin, Robert Delauney

I once remarked to myself that sleep deprivation is like a ticket to a very interesting state of mind. (Actually, I think I remarked that about NaNoWriMo, but they're basically the same thing.) Today I was given opportunity to explore said remark. It held true.
        The day began approximately four and a half hours before it ought to have, with one of those frenzies of the sleeping mind that wake one up but seem impossible to totally wake from. My mind was forcing me through a sort of assembly-line algorithm of the world, a wordless web like whip-driven clock-work welded together from the worst bits of rote calculation, mercilessly logical argumentation, and desperate politicking. I was inside a sickly-red-green-colored problem, working frantically to solve it, to line up things that ought to be lined and stick this here and that there, all at a terrible pace and with no solution in sight. My eyes opened. I groaned. I got a drink. I tried to shake myself free from the insidious tangle. I looked at the clock. It was 2:15. At least I had four more hours to sleep.
        I tried to fill my head with organic things-- trees and the ocean and sunshine, perhaps. Sleep was still thick around me, and I struggled to clear the fog without dispersing it, to fend off the monsters in my head while still in my mental pajamas, to wake from the nightmare but not from sleep. Not long after, the half-conscious crescendo of a bit of music found its way to me like the wet nose of a snuffly dog through the covers. I listened for a while as it pulled me slowly to the surface, where I realized it was my clock radio. The second, no-nonsense, instant-adrenaline alarm that sounded a few minutes later snapped me out of my drowse.
        The day began with Bible study and a mug of rich-brewed coffee. After this auspicious beginning, however, the punches started coming. First class of the day: Humane Letters. After an also-tired struggle yesterday to collect and express my own thoughts in discussion while tracking with the conversation as a whole, and being... helped in that attempt by the, er-- smack-downs of a teacher whose similarity to myself is going to be a good iron-on-iron sort of thing (but whose humor and intelligence will make it work), I was seriously worried about how today would go. Would I again trip into the humorless force with which I waged my wordy (and subsequently silent) war the day before? I engaged a friend to signal if drastic cut-off was needed, but, miraculously, it wasn't. When I spoke, which was less often than I'd feared, it made decent sense, and such necessary confrontations as arose over Augustine's treatment of sin and free will were handled with rather more grace than of yore.
         So passed the first two hours.
         Nearly the whole time, though, still, I was back on roller coasters in my mind, walking in a sort of waking (and happily un-sinister) version of my mechanical nightmare, a tangle of brightly colored, ultra-sharp, hyper-speed observations flinging themselves to my notice, whizzing past bearing carloads of noisy possibilities.
         Lunch was a welcome oasis. I thank my friends for unasked questions, yes-or-no questions, and forgiving unanswered ones. Three of us went outside and laid on a hill. Here, sweetly, I was in the real world: grass beneath me, sky above me, sun warming, breeze cooling, and gravity doing all the work. The garish colors were gone and I could close my eyes and just be where my body was, resting.
         Next was French and that, somehow, I knew I could handle. No one expected me to express complex thoughts--or anything in coherent words--and the tactile stimulation of listening and repeating and rolling soft French r's promised (and delivered) the happy occupation of an hour.
         Math was an hour of digging through mechanical mazes of exponents, but as the threads consistently untangled into neat piles, it was the antidote to the Tartaran, never-ending dream.
         I finished my left-over lunch after school, leaning against my open locker door and devolving into fits of helpless laughter (never was a cliché  more aptly applied) over nothings with one of my companions-on-the-lunchtime-hill, as chum after cheery chum walked past and bade us good weekend.
         The drive home was organized and classically musicked. When I got home I did nearly all my homework immediately. I read Anne of Green Gables to my little sisters before they went to bed, and lingered to chat in a pleasant and sisterly manner.

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
-Robert Frost

        When my unfathomable Father is writing the story, not a day is wasted. In days of weakness, he teaches me dependence. In days of brainlessness, he reminds me not to take sanity for granted. In technicolor glimpses of a more textured and untethered imagination, he reminds me how big and deep this world is, and how much yet bigger and deeper is He.

        As I said to my mom at supper, it was a weird day; it was a bewildering day; but it wasn't a bad day.
        It was a ride on a rickety roller coaster. And, thanks be to God, a lot of my friends had tickets, too.


  1. Maddy darling, you're gifted. Seriously.

    Your writing, it's magnificent. I love its sounds, how each word intentionally clicks with its sound, and when they're all in order, they hit with a rhythm - but it's still poetic too.

    And your content! You make me think. You challenge me. I still think about the Far Country. I don't think I'll ever forget about it... because you put something into words that is so engrained into me... into all of us... that I could never identify or express. It's beautiful, how you write of truth in this compelling way.

    So, this to say- I love you, you're so greatly talented, and... this may be out of the blue, but you have the loveliest singing voice too. When you sat next to me in church, I loved hearing you sing.


    xoxo, Anna Banana

    1. As a writer yourself, you know how thrilling it is when people resonate with something you've written-- but it's not every day they tell you so in such kind words. Thank you, dear! I love you too!