Thursday, August 13, 2009

Comfortably Numb Redux

A faithful reader (Michelle Hickman, who is writing some great stuff these past few days, so you should visit her soon) came upon this old post yesterday while perusing my archives. After reading it, she had questions. Most concerned whether the three intervening years would have changed anything within the post or actually did change anything within me. I'll attempt to answer those questions here.

The original post is in plain type and italics. New musings are as this, in bold.


The lyrics are by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd. This one has always spoken to something inside of me.

The stream of consciousness is mine. I have laid out the lyric in portions and will fill in the spaces between with type-as-I-think-it ramblings. I might get at what makes the lyric talk to me. I am going to start with an image of me during my cocaine days and see where it leads. It might get hairy. I am going to publish it as soon as I am finished typing.

Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone home?

Line after line after line, up my nose and then washed down the back of my throat by huge gulps of vodka straight from the bottle. Why?

Come on, now.
I hear you’re feeling down.
Well I can ease your pain,
Get you on your feet again.

When I played in bands, it wasn't so much the music as it was the performance - the being in front of a crowd and the adrenaline rush. It's the same rush that can get me into trouble gambling. Or sexually. Playing ball, too, but on a much smaller scale. I'm always attempting to fill the same void.

Cocaine filled that void for me. Cocaine was applause in a baggie. When I did it, it felt like everything I did was a bravura performance. There was a constant standing ovation in my head.

I need some information first.
Just the basic facts:
Can you show me where it hurts?

This writing thing is totally different. There is little immediate gratification. I can imagine the reactions of certain people (for instance, sometimes I imagine my Mom fainting dead away, unfortunately) but there is no way to feel the moment with another person or group of people as there is with the other things I've mentioned. I could hover over someone's shoulder as they read, but that's too creepy. Anyway, it changes the reaction.

I've become more comfortable with the delayed reactions. My readership has increased quite a bit since then, so that helps. These days, I know that it won't be too long before I start getting comments. When this was originally written, it received only TWO (very nice, very much appreciated) comments.

There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ship’s smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re sayin’.

Always something. Always a need. This fills the need for now, but when will I go off the tracks again?

MY WIFE is it for now and for as long as she lives. She is just herself and that is enough for me. Without her, I would have killed myself years ago. Not intentionally, but through some stupid thing I would have done if I didn't have her to come home to. Leave me alone for too long and I'm looking for something to connect the dots in my subconscious; I'm fucking up in one dangerous way or another.

She still is. I still am.

What is the solution? What is the secret? Why do I need to look over the edge?

Is my fear of heights a part of this? Roofs, fire escapes, bridges; I'm afraid I'll end up over the edge somehow. Am I afraid of heights or am I afraid of me?

I can't quite grasp it.

When I was a child I had a fever.
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I got that feeling once again.
I can’t explain, you would not understand.
This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb.

More lines. Every cent I have and then as much credit as anyone foolish enough to give it to me is willing to extend. I can't get enough. I am running away running in place. I am trying to escape by moving closer. I am consolidating my psychoses.

That was then. Now I am blowing up every day, cursing, swearing, obscenities just blasting from my mouth like some poor Tourette's sufferer, except I can stop it. Except I can't stop it. This job is driving me apeshit fucking insane lately. I am not a nice person to be around for much of the day. And the people here don't deserve it. They are way too nice.

I'm not in that state of mind at present, nor have I been for the majority of time since original publication. Thank God for that. It's never too far away, though. A few days running of poor reads by talents, expedited orders that have to go on a day already filled with regular orders, inane questions, not enough sleep, and perhaps news that the Celtics traded Rajon Rondo, and I'll be back there temporarily, making an ass of myself.

I want the feeling I get from the white powder, without actually taking the white powder into my body. It has to be out there somewhere. Where is it?

Just a little pinprick.
There’ll be no more - aaaaaahhhhh!
But you may feel a little sick.

Love. I have plenty of it. My parents loved me and gave me what I needed, including education. So did many other relatives and friends. And I'm not a stupid person. It isn't because I don't know what the risks are. And I can be very happy just reading a book or having a quiet dinner or listening to music or watching some lovely silly cartoon with MY WIFE.

Music. I search out fast beats and discordant arrangements. Sure, I appreciate some mellow stuff, but I come alive when the music matches the tempo of the cocaine experience. More adrenaline. More. I play the bass and I can't play fast enough. I literally can't play fast enough. I hear notes in my head that I can't play because I can't play fast enough, damnit. I've been playing for close to 30 years and I could play for another 600, but I can't play fast enough.

Can you stand up?
I do believe it’s working. good.
That’ll keep you going for the show.
Come on it’s time to go.

I've been clean of cocaine for about 17 years. The void is still in me. I will not fill it. I cannot fill it. Nobody else can fill it for me, though some can make me forget about it for long stretches. I live with it. I'm OK.

I live with it. I'm OK.

There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ship’s smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re sayin’.

I've been given way too many good things in my life to complain. Way too many. I've thrown away a lot of them without realizing until they were gone just what I had. Whenever I've needed something, I've gotten it. Sometimes not as fast as I would have liked, but I got it before it was too late. God takes care of me for some reason. I am a Sullivan. We do not hit lotteries, but we never starve.

I can't fill the void. I want to eliminate the void. I have to eliminate the void without filling it. I have to rip out an empty space and throw it away. How does one do that?

Don't send out the medics. I'm not going to rip out anything.

I am happy, overall. But... what?

I can't quite grasp it. I want dreams, but I also want the numbness that comes with acceptance of loss of dreams. Above all, I don't want to be forced into one or the other. I want choice, always. I am getting older and I fear that I have less choice as the years pass.

I can't quite grasp it.

I am Jim. I am OK. If you love me, you should not worry. This is just opening up the valve and letting off some pressure. I will type happy tomorrow.


When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.


Elaine said...

That song (along with perhaps Wish You Were Here) is my all time favourite song. Ever.

This blog entry is one of the best ones I've read. Ever.

I'm thinking something, but it's too muddled up to write. I may be back....

Michelle H. said...

How many times are you going to link me this week? I mean, really - you're just trying to embarrass me this time all because I wrote about horny farm animals.

Seriously, I loved this post. It was just so raw and open. I hope you do another one like this to another song.

Buck said...

Nice work, as always and ever. You DO have quite a talent here, Jim.

As for the void... I'm of the opinion we all have one. Some of us throw ourselves into it and never emerge, some of us put it in a box and hide it away... never daring to open it or look inside, and some of us don't quite realize the void exists except in a hazy "something's missing" sorta way.

I LIKE being comfortably numb, but I've arrived at my own definition of same. It doesn't have anything to do with external modifiers... chemical or otherwise... it's just a state of mind these days.

Linda said...

Oh my.

This made my heart pound and my eyes tear. This is something that could have come from my son, the one who has taken such a long time to get through adolescence. He's 30 and seems to be on his way now.

Brian Miller said...

there are still parts of me that are comfortably numb...numb is better than the pain, right? my void i tend to fill with people...for caring and loving them...helping them avoid the things that causes those black holes of the heart and mind. well put jim.

lakeviewer said...

That's a great song; and you have slowly analyzed yourself and complemented the analysis with the right lyrics; a soulful dirge here and there; an analysis and a song for who you are, who you become, cares and issues that hover all around you. Pretty impressive metacognition here.

You have a very honest style. Congratulations. Most of us lie to ourselves and don't even know it.

Ananda girl said...

I have always felt that we all have sound tracts to our lives... music that we so completely connect with that it plays in our heads when we NEED it. Obviously this one is part of yours. Mine too, my friend.

Thank God for your wife. :)

Theresa said...

This is way deep Suldog. You've had quite the trip in you life. And I do have to say, it appears you have come out better for it. Kudos!

Chris@Maugeritaville said...

Great job as always, Sully. When you dredge up the deep shit, it takes blogging to a different level. Awesomeness.

Jeni said...

Aren't we all like that in one way or another? Always looking for something to fill a void we think is present. Realizing that there are things we'd still like to be able to be doing but maybe for various reasons it might be better to bow out gracefully -kind of like you appear to be doing with the softball and whether you'll be back on the field again next year or not -it's no easy thing to do. I guess we all need something or think we do anyway, that will get the adrenalin flowing and the body moving then. It's the search for that source of adrenalin that keeps us rolling along. I keep looking but so far, haven't found it.

Sandy Kessler said...

heavy and uplifting

Mrs. C. said...

I didn't know you had this in there, Jim. Wow. Thank you for bringing it out.

Jen said...

Thanks for being so honest. My last two posts were more personal than I have been and I was surprised at how well they were received. I think people do appreciate knowing others are out there having the same difficulties they are. Sometimes it's tough to read, sometimes it's tough to write. But, it's all good.

Christina LMT said...

Jim, you amaze me with your talent.

I tried filling the void with food, for many, many years, but it never helped and just made me fat.

Now the internet helps fill it, and books, always lots of books.

Shammickite said...

There are little holes, voids, in everything. I'm wondering what I need to fill mine. So far I haven't found it.

lime said...

sorry i'm so late getting here. thanks for this post. it was very illuminating in ways i never expected (of you and of certain things i think about but haven't put out on my own blog). like elaine said...there are thoughts and words with regard to this but i don't quite have a way to get them out.

Stu said...

Unasked for advice: The void will go away when you choose to fully accept that you cannot control everything that happens to you. When you can let go of the need to control your life, you won't be afraid of heights or any of the other stuff. You won't have a void because you won't be afraid of being alone - You'll become fully comfortable with who you are. You'll forgive yourself, you'll become at peace with yourself.