Amid the sense that the world in my vision cries out to me, there’s one…something, not a voice, not a sight, not quite a thought, but something I cannot put my finger on, something that feels like it wants me to act, to do something, but what I do not know. I’ve come to think of the source of these impulses as The Only. I cannot tell if The Only is a person, or something else. It feels like it could be a person. The thoughts, if that’s what they are, aren’t clear enough to make any kind of sense. They’re more like impressions. Intimations. Intuitions. I’ll be minding my own business, perhaps stirring a pot of pasta sauce, when, how do I put this, it’s like my consciousness gets nudged over a bit. I’m still aware of stirring the pot. My senses don’t appear to be dulled. But it’s as though there is a pressure on my senses. It’s nothing at all like daydreaming, where I slip away from the moment to moment with the impressions appearing to unfold from the inside.
Whatever it is that I’m sensing is definitely external to any self of which I have sense.
And I’m starting to feel mad.
It’s been months now. I don’t know if I could pinpoint exactly when and how it started any more than I could get exactly when I started noticing the symptoms of the last cold I had. Like stuffiness in a nose, there was no pressure on my awareness, then there was, subtle, gradual, like the growth of a child before your very eyes.
I’ll confess, I’m the cautious sort. Some might call it paranoid. Or maybe, more generously, that I have a tendency to hypochondria, except I never come down with the things I come to fear. I first blamed the pressure on a cold that always felt like it was just coming on but wouldn’t quite start showing signs. The pressure does wear on one after bit, so maybe that was just weariness, that bone-tiredness right before the flu. Nary a sniffle has come of it.
And there weren’t thoughts, at first. Just presence, pressure. “Could it be…?” I occasionally wondered, but no. It’s best not to speculate about that.
But how does one know when one is going mad? I feel like Horton, but I’m pretty sure The Only isn’t some tiny Who on a single dandelion. The pressure I feel is an entire cosmos writ large, a whole other where and when.
Have you ever sat in a room with someone that was so angry that even if your back were turned, you could still feel that anger radiating like waves across the room? Or their anxiety, or fear, or alarm? I could as well ask about joy. and love. and appreciation, or even sorrow, or remorse, but those are beside the point. There’s something comforting about those good perceptions, something sympathetic about the sorrowful, however it is we feel them. There’s nothing comforting or sympathetic about this sensation at all. It’s edgy, and jangly, and uncomfortable. It puts me on edge. It feels like the other shoe is about to drop, but there aren’t any shoes to begin with.
Maybe I shouldn’t jinx myself.
It’s gotten to the point where I can’t always tell if the pressure or presence has abated and gone away, or if there’s periods now where I’ve just become used to it and it has to push harder to register. It was just a few weeks ago that I realized for certain this was no cold, no tumor.
My memory of the moment is as vivid to me now as though it were of something from a mere moment ago. I was reaching down to straighten up a stack of Skinny Puppy CD’s that had toppled over into my KMFDM pile, which would never do, and I was annoyed by my cat, Eco, for toppling them and jarring me from my reverie, when the pressure or presence registered like the first nag of a new toothache, then suddenly…it was…loud, but not in a way that I could hear. It was alarming. Alarming. Alarm. Alarmed. It was alarmed. No. It’s so weird trying to put words to this now. It was needful. Urgently, immediately needful, the way a buzzing doorbell is needful when some jackass leans on it to hurry you to the door, in the way of a crying baby, or a toilet on the verge of overflowing.
It was urgent. It was needful. But it didn’t feel afraid.
What it did feel was alone, consigned to an isolation so deep that it would make solitary confinement seem crowded by comparison.
Eco stood off to the side with paws spread wide, eyes wild, ears back, back arched with hair standing on end, and tail straight up and puffed out. He looked like he was about to try running in every direction at once. This was most unlike him. Ordinarily, he’s a sedate, lazy, fat chunk of a cat who can’t even be bothered to react when Nyx and Ananke, my two rats (and his adopted kittens, I think), bound across his back over and over again when I let them out to play.
Something was absolutely not right.
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