On the Streets of Consciousness

by jexmas on September 23, 2011

I live my life on two planes in my cerebral city.  Above ground, on the busy streets of consciousness, I go about my day-to-day life and I am engaged in what is going on around me. On this plane, I love living and what I feel feels like life. I bustle along the streets of consciousness, in the 10-second window of consciousness, and there is no other time. Living in the present, being present, is all there is. In this plane of living, there is no death. There is only now. I busy myself, dropping in to familiar places, saying hello to my friends, exercising, organizing, engaging, being. My feet are firmly planted  and I am sure of myself, conscious and alive.

My awareness of all that lies beneath my feet is variable. Sometimes it draws me down to a place where it is hard to think, hard even to breathe freely. I let myself be dragged down sometimes into states of stillness and cloying stuffiness where nothing happens. It does not feel specifically like death, but it is a kind of deadness. In this place, I become merged with my mother’s half-life.

So often, it was hard to know whether she was dead or alive. When she was moving and breathing heavily, or her body was convulsing in some throes of trying to stay alive, I knew she was still with us. It was not really living, though, but not really dead either. As she grew older and became less and less alive, she became more and more exhausting. By then, her mind was slowly succumbing to the years of diabetic comas, periods of unconsciousness she consciously created.

I still do not know how she collapsed into us so frequently without any sense of whether she would survive. She left her survival up to us and we were way too fragile and uncertain to do anything but go along with her deathly provocation. I know there is a way I do the same thing. I hate that part of me because that is what is dead inside me.

Years ago, people told me I breathed weirdly in my sleep and it still makes me shudder. When my mother slipped into states of unconsciousness, her breathing changed and became intermittent, labored, puffing and forced. The news that I breathed this way in my sleep was the worst news I ever received. The breathing itself is irrelevant, but being invaded like this is an overwhelmingly repellent idea. I am not my mother.

At the same time, I can go there and I do go there when certain feelings take hold. I slip into states where I do not care. In those states, I do not care what happens to me. I do not care if anyone knows. I do not care if I survive. Not really.

Putting these words on paper puts me back in touch with how intractably the deadness has resided beneath my streets of consciousness. There are manholes and underground staircases I pass and feel the breeze of seduction inviting me down into the dark, dead spaces.

My mother’s deadness was a secret and, in some ways, I am grateful for that. It forced me onto the streets of consciousness where, like a scrappy unwanted child, I had to learn to survive. When I was growing up, death was a secret.

Now, on the streets of consciousness, my home town, death is no longer a secret. It makes me toss my head back and laugh. Death has never been a secret. Death is the truth of life. Even my own deadness is not a secret. By writing this, I drag my deadness up the dark stairs, out of the holes, out of the muck of the musty rotten stale stuff that lines the underground.  I drag it into the light where it shrinks away. The light is too bright and deadness does not do well with oxygen.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kris September 24, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Wow Jane. This is such a powerful piece and I think your best written
yet that I have read. So forth coming and moving.


doug September 25, 2011 at 9:00 pm

And in writing this, you prove you are not your mother.


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