Something is different. Something has definitely changed, and worst of all, the change has come on so incrementally that I didn’t notice it until fairly late in the game. The cathedral I once inhabited, with its Gothic arches flying up toward the center to meet harmoniously at the apex; with its centrally enormous but not-quite-gaudy red-velvet throne; with its hundreds of trap doors hidden by millions of cardboard boxes all labeled in Sharpie with my own large, untidy handwriting; this place, which was once my university, courtroom, playground, and sanctuary all rolled into one, now seems hazy and unclear. I seem to have lost uninhibited access to the inner spaces of my mind.
As a child, I constructed my mind as a lofty, vaulted dome encircled by small arched windows. Oddly, the only piece of furniture it contained was the European-style mahogany and red-velvet throne, raised on a small platform near the center of the back. This was where my Self took residence, deciding important issues and operating the controls to reality. Every one of my real actions in the outside world originated from that spot. Other than that chair, the rest of the room was simply filled with boxes of information and memories, as if someone had just recently moved into the space. The system of keeping everything encased in cardboard and strewn about the room may have seemed disorganized to the casual observer, but it was always adequate for finding whatever you needed. The only other defining feature of the space was a relatively thin column at the exact center of the space. This served as an anchor in times of need. Whenever I had to memorize large amounts of information for tests, information which could be discarded after use, I freed up space for the temporary information by connecting some of my boxes to the center column with a long rope, and then throwing them out of the windows. The everyday thoughts and memories would dangle freely out of the mind-space while the temporary information was stored in their place. After the test, that information could be discarded, and the boxes hauled safely back inside.
The space also had advocates to help me see all sides of any issue and make my decisions wisely. One was an advocate for logic and reason, the other for impulse and spontaneity. They would each argue their case in front of the Self’s throne, and a decision would be reached accordingly. They were identical in appearance, so Impulse and Spontaneity was tinted green, while Logic and Reason was tinted blue to tell them apart. Honestly, Logic and Reason would win more than its share of the arguments, but no one was bitter about it.
This was how my mind operated for years, and I was thoroughly proud of the system. However, in the past year or so, something has changed which I have only recently become aware of. It is a bit difficult to explain. It is as if the place I once saw so vividly, the place I essentially lived in, is now faded and unfocused. The colors aren’t as saturated. The room feels smaller. The voices of the advocates have become muffled and almost unintelligible. It’s like seeing a photo rather than being there in person. It’s like dreaming about something rather than living it.
I want to know what has happened, and how I can get back.
I’ve come up with some possible theories. My first thought is that it’s simply a result of the march toward inevitable adulthood. Doubtless, imagination is required for the upkeep of such a place, and maybe only a few lucky adults get to retain their imagination throughout life. Maybe as mine wanes with each passing day, my Self gets pushed further and further to the extremities of the space, until finally it’s on the outside looking in through the foggy glass of one of the windows. Or perhaps I simply need to set aside time to exercise my imagination more; I’ll admit it hasn’t had too much excess play time during this last year’s bid to simply not fail at life. It is possible that my Self’s eyes have been staring at the controls of reality so long and so intently that when they look up from their work, they are unable to focus anymore.
Another possible reason for this change occurs to me. Could it be that, as I have become increasingly uncertain of what my life should be here on Earth, my mind is simply reflecting my nebulous state? After all, if I am uncertain of my role in this world, how can my mind be certain of its role in me? Perhaps the whole space and everything in it will continue morphing until I can decide who I need to be.
There is a third viable possibility to consider. What if the fault is not in my space, but in my Self? What if my Self is only seeing things as muffled and distorted because it is stricken ill, poisoned by the year of turmoil and self-loathing? In the past year especially, I have been internally reiterating how much of a failure I think I am because I’m not where I thought I would be by now. It is not much of a stretch to think that this kind of mantra could turn poisonous to anyone exposed. It could be that my miasma of negativity, initially meant for motivational means, has finally caught up with me. Could my Self ever recover from the handicaps imposed by such toxic thinking?
In each of these scenarios, I can hold out slight hope for a return to the old ways. I can try to strengthen the mind, to heal the self, to allow my space to redefine itself as necessary. Or if I can never return it to what it once was, maybe I can construct something new to take its place. Regardless of what happens, there is always hope. With that thought alone, the colors become marginally more vivid, and the shapes of thoughts just a bit sharper than before.