Friday, August 9, 2013

Steamroller Blues -- And Novocain for the Soul

I'm not an artist, but I wish I were. I'm not an artist but I think like one . . . or should I say, I feel like one.  My hallmark as even a young kid was that I felt things deeply. I do feel things deeply, both elation and the depths of pain. I wish I had been born a poet where I could express these things but I'm an emotional mute. But sometimes "feeling deeply" is a significant liability and must be shed or numbed.

James Taylor is an artist and a poet.  He makes a reference in his song Steam Roller Blues that I wish to hang my hat on. He wrote this song in the midst of her personal dark years (or so I believe) where he was injecting heroin.  In the song he speaks of injecting someone's soul with sweet rock and roll.  He was far too familiar with injecting.  But the reason that people inject, snort, smoke is usually to numb their feelings from things that have become unbearable.

I just finished a road trip from Seattle to Minneapolis. During this trip we listened to the book Into Thin Air. It is a personal account of a disastrous climbing expedition on Mount Everest by Jon Krakauer.  It was his attempts to tell an amazing story that needed to be told, but also his emotional exercise as a journalistic cathartic and in a spiritual penitence.  He made one statement that was paramount in his emotional journey.  On May 11th 1996, the day after the worst day of the cataclysm, after about six friends had died in horrible deaths, he self-observed that he was in this strange place of total detachment.  It was wired. But it was s self-protective defense system of the brain, where the autopilot takes over and makes us and the world in which we live . . . totally inert as a two dimensional black and white drawing of stick figures.

There is a time that injecting the soul with Novocain has its place.  I choose to do this at this time, not a chemical blockade but an emotional one.  Today I experienced the last in a string of losses and I don't want to feel anymore. I inject my soul, willingly, not as a automatic self defense measure of the brain.  I could feel if I wanted . . . but this time I don't.  This year I feel I have drank of sorrows like they were being shot out of a fire hose and I am weary. But these sorrows are normal. It is part of the terrain of growing older in this mortal life.  These are not even in the same league as those I mentioned a few weeks ago when I talked about the lady loosing her daughter and my friend who has had a Jobian season.

But I pity most, more so than the aforementioned sufferers, are those who have an IV stuck right into their hearts, where there is a perpetual dripping of Novocain, injecting their souls to keep them in a constant state of numbness.  Some of these people entered the stunned world at a point like Krakauer, where the pain was so overbearing that they choose to never feel again.  But the really sad ones who were born with congenital catheter for reasons which are not clear . . . genetics?  Taught by a numb mother, perhaps?  These are people who live robotically and never feel.

So, this time I smile and I don't suppress the pain . . . I simply choose not to feel it.  I think there is a healthy place for this approach, while standing on guard that the Novocain would take hold . . . entrapping me into its icy grave.


Headless Unicorn Guy said...

But it was s self-protective defense system of the brain, where the autopilot takes over and makes us and the world in which we live . . . totally inert as a two dimensional black and white drawing of stick figures.

Just like I experienced with my mother's death in 1975. A complete "numbing out" that lasted a couple months at full intensity, then gradually wore off over the next year or two.

And that was only the first time; I experienced a lesser version at my breakup with Ann, my father's death, and subsequent rejection by my stepmother.

j. Michael Jones said...

It is the human condition, I'm afraid. Things they never talked about on Leave it to Beaver or Happy Days. Glad you came back to feeling again.