Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Day in the Life, Part IX
"Temporal Lobe Apathy"

I've always felt out of place among crowds.

I even remember the first time I experienced that sensation: I was 9 or 10 years old, and it was half-time at a high school basketball game.

I ventured out into the common area with friends for restroom breaks and nachos and -- in my case -- however much gum I could purchase with the quarter in my pocket.

But the area was packed with people navigating in all variety of directions, dozens upon dozens of conversations all buzzing into one. There were foot steps, I remember, and the smell of popcorn was ripe in the air (along with cold dragged in from the outdoors and perfumes and colognes and sweat and the last bounce of the basketball fresh off the court).

I was overwhelmed by all five senses, a certain nausea developing in the pit of my stomach and lingering as a pseudo-numbness in my hands.

I wanted nothing more than an open space, from which I could safely sit and observe the sights and smells and sounds without being a part of them.

There is something profoundly melancholy about so much of everything at once, I thought (or some juvenile version thereof), making my way to a bench and waiting for the crowd to clear.

There was a similar nausea, too, just days ago when I was away from everyone and everything but myself, and these memories:

I was looking at recent photos, scrolling one by one until something got... stuck... and the program started to scroll at its own, accelerated rate. Each image was on my screen for a split second -- at best -- before my computer shuffled on to the next.

By this manner the last six months of my life flashed by in one minute, maybe two. It unrolled like a movie -- a flipbook -- with people laughing, walking, talking... sometimes in sequence.

There were sunrises and sunsets of mirror image vistas. Flowers from all variety of angles.

Fireworks taking off.


And then falling.

It was perhaps one of the most surreal experiences of my recent life, and I spent it entirely alone.

No crowds.

No people.

Just memories.

And the same sickening overload.

I learned recently that these experiences may very well be the result of a medical condition.

I was watching a movie wherein one of the lead characters periodically enters a sort of... trance... where he becomes hypersensitive to the world around him, staring off into space only to later talk excitedly about something as simple as a flower, or as light as a breeze.

It was theorized he suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy -- a very real condition that has, as I've since discovered -- impacted a great many brilliant minds.

Artists. Poets. Musicians. Playwrights. Novelists.

A list of people I'd be proud to be listed among.

People who suffer from things like hypergraphia, deja vu, and jamais vu. People who were at once overwhelmed

and underwhelmed

by the world around them: sensations I've lived and relived for much of my life.

Now this isn't to say I wanted to find that I had a condition (and particularly not epilepsy, whose harsher effects I certainly don't intend to downplay); rather, I was mystified to think of creativity as a symptom.

A marker of illness. An anomaly.

It saddened me, in a way. Another facet of personality explained by medical science.

Is nothing real?

Is everything about biology and nothing about soul? Or even ephemera?

But I digress.

Greater research on the matter has confirmed I don't have T.L.E., a realization that leaves me as relieved as it does concerned.

Worried beyond belief that -- in the world at large, and my life --

normalcy will crush or cure the opposition.


david said...

I have too many questions and not nearly enough adjectives. It is not possible to read this piece only once. Well done.

Eli said...

Great stuff! I get so caught up in the flow of your words I forget to digest them. Is is poetry or prose? Seems to be both.

disgruntled world citizen said...

its too early in the morning, 0927, to read something like this. i must multiple cups of coffee. wonderful words, 'muse, wonderful words.

Stacy said...

this one scared me, too close to my reality. I was worried the voices, the dreams, the obsessive painting and poetry in my head were a medical condition- how terribly un-mystical and mundane. Perish the thought missy! you have pure genius like the rest of us nuts.