Morning Pages, Madness, and Keelhauling

Morning pages.  I wrote them for a while.  Every day began with writing enough to fill three pages of lined A4 paper.  Sometimes I disobeyed the rules and put more thought into them than I “should” have done.  The rules say to write without stopping, whatever happens.  Even if all you write is three pages of “I don’t know what to write” over and over again.  Don’t think about it.  I couldn’t help thinking.

This afternoon I wrote morning pages for the first time in a couple of years.  I need to get back to writing – something that’s been more than a challenge while going through withdrawal from a medication.  I’m not through that withdrawal yet but this afternoon I felt I had the necessary clarity in my head to pick up a pen and write.

I find the process of writing with a pen to be very different to that of writing with a keyboard.  It’s much slower for one thing and a change in the relative speeds of thought and writing makes a big difference for me.  It’s also a different physical experience.  The way I hold a pen is an example of being cack-handed in a bad way, as my dad used to say.  If I write too fast or too long it hurts and my particular version of bad left handed penmanship makes for inky fingers.  It also means that I’ve never been able to use a fountain pen because I smudge the ink beyond recognition and that if a form is on slightly shiny paper I have to fill it in from the bottom up.

Today I wrote with a pen.  In the little back bedroom of my home which I’ve finally made reasonably tidy with the hope of using it as an art room.  Here’s what I wrote, freely.  Be warned, it does contain some of my obsessions!  It doesn’t even make much sense but I’ve very glad to have managed to write something so I’m inflicting this nonsense on the world.  Totally unedited.  I even left in all the commas and the peculiar word orders.  750 words in 45 minutes that included a break for a text conversation.

That 45 minutes is the biggest reason why I stopped writing morning pages.  I just didn’t have 45 minutes to spend every morning writing nonsense.  I may return to the practice for a while though.  I think it would be useful in my ongoing recovery.  I’ll tell you what.  Add comments here if you like.  Give me topics to write about.  I can’t promise that the writing will make any sense or be accurate to the theme in any manner.  But if you give me a topic I’ll write three pages that at the very least begin somewhere at the very least obliquely connected to that topic.  I’m notorious for not sticking to writing prompts and see no reason to change my ways!

They threw me over twice.  Twice more they threw me over.  Dragged me silently screaming under the length of the ship, their mouths contorted in hatred borne of mistrust then fear as they pushed me from the deck.  Their eyes filled with regret as each time they hoisted me from the water, disappointment not in their cruelty but in the way I still breathed.  I should have died.  Wished to die, to drown, to never again hear a voice tell me I was cursed and a curse upon all godly creatures.

Yet something refused the quiet.  Broken, breathless, heart torn in bloodless lethargy.  My mind could scarce form a coherent response to my continued existence, unable to place one thought in front of another, as tongue-tied as I was hobbled by the rope, by now dug through flesh, salt and iron mixing in ugliness across my ankles.

Just one thought.  One idea.  Formed across a gulf in a space as separate from me as freedom.  One word.  “Resist.”  As if the angels called out to stubbornness, the bloody minded rebellion, the imprisoned victory of hope.  “Resist.”  Resist.  Go on.  If only to kick against their anger, to instill a greater fear.   Don’t die for them.  They’re not worth it.  You’re no saviour and even Jesus would have thought twice in your place.  If his last supper was with the captain of this ship, surrounded by the crew of his most petty officers, he would have refused his fate.  Perhaps he should have done that at Gethsemane.  Did he die for my suffering?  Or did I suffer for his?

The captain glared at me, unmoving on the deck.  Half-breathing.  Half-breeding revolutionary.  The crew parted as he approached, forming an aisle for their preacher lover, their god, their base acceptance of madness.  He prodded me with his cane.  Pressed harder, then raised it, bringing it down across my knees.  I hardly felt the pain.  Looked up at him and gasped a single word.  “No.”  The crew gasped to.  In horror.  And the captain responded just as he had before.  “Again.”

I did not fight inevitability.  One bound woman against a hundred men.  I could not fight.

They threw me over.

This time, difference.  Appropriate.  Difference caused my punishment.  Difference ended it.  This time I refused fear, from exhaustion as much as volition.

As I sank into the water and felt the rope pull on my bleeding legs I opened my eyes, expecting the darkness of the ocean.  I saw only light, as fish and crustaceans surrounded my passage, their eyes shining upon me.  They seemed to smile and seven larger fish, silver green, pressed into me, held me close.

I saw the ocean floor.  I know not how far away, flashing, luminescing in geometric wonder and heard the whales roar, the dolphins sing and across continents the narwhals played.

In madness I breathed.  I had lived in madness.  Now, surrounded by impossible aquatic hallucinations I would die in madness, embrace the perfect fullness of a mind and spirit that had failed to conform to the sanity of life in just two dimensions on the surface of beauty, on the very edge of the fantastic.  I’d been the dreamer.  I’d been a maladjusted child who became a maladjusted prophet who couldn’t begin to live within the one pattern laid down for her.

I breathed.  My madness became my sanity.  Drowning became impossible and the rope fell from me.  I was left under the ship, resting in piscine protection.  Waited.  Watched.  I could only imagine the situation on deck.  The full felt joy of the ship’s crew, believing my death, rejoicing in a return to untroubled uniformity, untroubled waters and the satisfaction of living in black and white.  The ship moved away.  Oblivious to me.  No oblivion for me.

I was lifted to the surface and lay in peace on my back.  Gentle ripples lapped at me and I laughed at the sunlight, intermittent, sometimes covered with cloud faces.  I was free.  Free to be mad, the clown, the fool, the singer of stories, the painter of the unimagined.

It felt good, more beautiful than the deepest sunrise.

But what use is the sanity of the mad, alone on an ocean where the only hope of rescue comes from the insanity of the sane powers?  I was free, yet powerless except within my own mind.

Unless.  Unless dreams can become real.  Unless there’s salvation in hallucination.

Unless the crystal dragon approaching was not merely a dream.

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