A Mind Adrift on the Ocean

There is a way that unexamined views can only really be put on trial once a situation arises where they obviously, blatantly don’t hold up to reality. And even then, only when exposed to those conditions for an extent of time.

So it is with the fact that I’m going to die. The unexamined view here is that I don’t see my death as an actual event. It’s been hidden from a deeper knowing, the kind of knowledge that resides in my bones. It’s always just been a concept. A hypothetical.

It’s funny to me how such insights eventually rise to the surface of my consciousness as I languish on this raft in the middle of the ocean. Death has come so very close. It’s my constant companion. My only companion, besides the gallery of thoughts that rattle in my mind.

It’s no surprise really that my own death had seemed a distant hypothesis, rather than the actual experience that it will be for me some day. It’s quite obvious now why that would be after a closer examination. Our culture hides death away, makes it a special event, something tragic removed from daily life. Death is hidden away by hospitals and ritual. We are inundated with an understanding of death as a mostly abstract concept, warned about on safety labels or presented to us in tales of extraordinary heroism so far removed from actual life that they just become entertainments. All this is what lead me to believe, while not really knowing that I believe, that my own death is a distant thing. A statistic.

Leading causes of death for my age group: unintentional injury. Malignant Neoplasms. Heart Disease. Suicide. Homicide. Our brains are engines anciently designed to make risk mitigation from the fuel of experience. We adapt to our environment, and we grasp instinctively at any risk factors around us. We can’t help but do so. But with the lack of a hearty paleolithic diet of often traumatic and very real experiences of death, our brains make do by digesting the thin soup of words, images and concepts fed to us through stickers on window screens or news headlines or fictions of alien robot invasions.

But being stuck alone on a tiny piece of flotsam in the middle of a gigantic body of water that cares nothing for whether I live or die, the engine in my head gets something real to work with. I might make it back to land. Or I might very well die out here whenever the ocean decides that it’s hurricane time, or that I’m not to have any more fish, or I any other unintentional injuries might occur or my heart stops or I decide to take death into my own hands. At least I don’t need to worry about homicide. @SilverRose @disco4robot

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So much art generating, branching out of that ludicrous halo-like glamour that surrounds the notion of death. The word ‘deceased’ comes to mind – a denizen that ceased to exist, a de-ceased. The West knows very well how to make death part of pop culture. No, that doesn’t mean that my mother was correct in her thinking. It is ultimately true that we did consume a load of perturbing violence as teenagers and young adults. Yet what my mother missed is the idea that my generation cracked its own shell prematurely without the help of anyone, really; it exposed itself to life, thus uncovering its vunerable spot. One more thing, though: my generation is the one that’s desperately hitting the brakes of a vehicle recklessly driven by those who think are older and thereby wiser.

What were the Romantics thinking when they made suicide so damn appealing? Victorians weren’t any better, either. I often thought of Sylvia Plath sticking her head in the over – or maybe even Woolf and that famous river. Well, Woolf and I are not that different now; she had a river, I have an ocean underneath me. Fuck. I should have just done it. I can actually do it now. What is it? Roll over, force myself deeper into the ocean, swallow salt-water that will surely taste like fire – I read that in a Dan Brown novel – and then what? Survival instinct? Am I going to kick myself back to the surface? Death is not that easy to draw forth intentionally. That demands a certain amount of despair, not cowardice – as everyone mistakenly assumes.

Death is still remote and virtual. Death is looking at hundreds of souls this very second; this very second, perhaps, is the second during which someone out there is seeing their entire life flash before their eyes; this very second someone out there is dying from childbirth, from a fall, from an accident. Nevertheless, just as well, someone is enjoying a cone of ice cream; someone is home, complaining; someone is laughing. And I, with all my ego, I am being toasted under the sun with nothing but an infinity of water. I’m the hands of a compass, and all around me is a confusing blend of directions.

The devil resides within us. It perches on the hearts of those who do not act on instinct all the time. Religion tells us that the devil tricks us into wrongdoing, lifting off the blame and the taint of sin that we, as conscious entities, are able to carry all the way up to our graves. Plainly said, it turns you into a sucker for penance—albeit it is a relief. Indeed, it is a relief to know that evil does not sprout from you, that you are naturally immune to what is erroneous. But that’s just wrong. That’s just so awfully wrong. Death negates evil.

I keep having this reoccurring dream, my body shines, glitters like black diamonds. I am deep deep under the soft sea. Its cool here but not cold. My skin tingles from the seaweed. I am lying stretched out on the bottom of the oceanfloor looking up. Some lazy sunbeams reaches all the way down here, their light diffracted by the water, everything looks slightly grainy.

I hold my breath. When I let go it is my skin that breathes out through my pores. I don’t need my lungs anymore. Sometimes dead matter rains from the skies. I watch a whale falling towards me, a shadow-body. I watch it as it comes closer and closer to me. I long for the big carcass to cover me with its pressure, months pass, years like this. I become a part of the ocean floor, seaweed covers me while i wait. When It finally reaches me, the whale is light and empty. Served as food for many generations, a whole planet now with its former population flying in the dark, looking for a new oceanly body to inhabit. Swimming is like flying here.

I always thought stars actually fell in the sky but then just recently I found out it was meteors reaching our atmosphere. Wondering what the atmosphere of my body is. My thoughts? My skin? I too would burn up when you came too close to me.

My worst nightmare is coming true. Not figuratively, literally.

From when I was a small child and throughout my life, everytime I’m really sick I’ll have the same basic recurrent fever dream. In the dream I am forced to tightrope walk on a thin red line stretching across a dark and dangerous sea below. Invariably I walk across the line, but fall off because of its tentative, immaterial nature, and I plunge into the roiling darkness below. The sea is made from pure darkness and is so much more powerful than I am. My tiny body is thrown hither and forth. I am powerless.

I’ve come to see that dream as being a signifier to the lived experience of being human. Everything that happens in a dream is self. If you meet your mother in a dream, it’s not actually your mother, but a representation of your own mother nature that comes to have a talk. And so in the way I interpreted the dream, my tiny body that gets tossed about is my conscious understanding of self: the part of life that this thing I name ‘I’ has access to, my thoughts, beliefs, choices, sensations etc. And the vast roiling ocean beneath me is unconscious existence, the greater ‘I’ that knows no limits but is inaccessible to that smaller I; hence dark and seemingly dangerous as all things unknown to us appear.

After many weeks on a quiet sea, it would seem that the storm has finally found me and given me the opportunity to fully live my nightmare as an actual experience. There is a part of me that laughs, the adult who has done the work to recognize conscious awareness as both real and not real, and who relishes this opportunity. And there is the frightened child, a scared animal coming to terms with its minute nature, a mote of dust lost in the storm, whose life is either forfeit or spared depending little on any choice of their own.

There is not one of them that’s more I than the other, and at this point all they can do is huddle together, in this insufficient shelter bound to the raft, because they only have each other and it’s nice to have company when having tea with Death.

And the mind expands in that loving embrace, and for a while is more vast and fathomless than the ocean itself.

I keep having this reoccurring dream. In the dream I am on the shore, and as the waves lap over my lower body, it transforms: from legs to hooves to mermaid tail, to seaweed, to the hard spiral of a nautilus husk, to glittering black matter more star-kissed than the night. I know nothing but the desire to drag myself into the ocean, where my body will be free from the stagnation of form. My legs become spidery crab feet, and I scurry into the froth.

But again and again, I wash up onto the shore, each time uglier, more deformed, an asymmetrical patchwork of limbs not meant for joining. A walrus, obese, with the minuscule head of a wasp. Lips that sag like sea cucumbers, barnacle-encrusted teeth. I drag myself back into the sea, for all I can dream of is perseverance, those beautiful minutes when my silhouette is fluid, when my brain and soul become as plastic as my flesh, and I taste the randomly generated memories of a thousand species.

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I am cutting waves out of the paper.
I will make a crown out of it and i will put it on my head.
I am the queen of the oceans now, you cant touch me na na na na na na
This is the sound of you grinding your teeth at night:
This is how you look when your are sensitive towards the light:
This is your face that I’m trying to trace.
All the shallow talking, sends me shivers down my back.
Cause I’m crossing an ocean.

I am the queen of seas.
I am Poseidon, but the nice version.
I would never kidnap anyone and i would not turn the dolphin into a star.
I would just be, a part of it.
I am it.

When a whale is dead, it takes one day for it to sink down to the bottom of the ocean.
One whole day you can swim next to it.
Have the time to, say goodbye.
And if we turn the world upside down.
Then this image of the going up to the heavens.
It makes somehow more sense.
Cause we had never been there.
On the bottom.

I also want to have one more day.
Could i have that?

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I have another recurring dream. I haven’t had it for a while. Like ‘the game’ I used to play with my “home” friends in childhood, the object of the game was to forget the game to the point of it fizzling out. But someone would remember (and I was as guilty as any - it was a game after all) and remind the rest. And so it was with this dream, I was locked in an endless desire for it to stop plaguing me and the more I focused on not focusing on it the more it seemed to be focused on making sure I could do nothing but focus on it. Like one of those dreams where you’re trying to climb up an impossibly steep street and your fingers are clinging on, but you keep slipping down and your knees are raw from the friction of the hardened surface that scrapes across them like sandpaper . And your finger tips are almost non-existent because you’re trying so desperately to hold onto something, anything, and where soft pads might once have been there is nothing but open, stinging, flesh with no hope of recovery and still you’re slipping**. And there is no one around to either witness or assist your demise because it is all in your mind and symbolic of your own struggle with life, the universe and everything and, genuinely, nothing anyone else could ever help with anyway.
This dream was exactly that manifestation. But now, when it starts, I have this incredibly bizarre sense of watching it unfold before me and knowing I am in a dream but being unable to do anything about it. It starts at the docks, a misspent youth smoking weed and watching The Wire undoubtedly plays a role in the kick off point. But then I am seamlessly transported onto a ship. A cruise ship. It is plush. The carpet is a nauseating combination of colours, I’m told this is their trick to help any seasickness incidents to blend in. I want to be sick in my mouth at the thought of it. The ship is vast and while I am sure I was greeted and escorted onboard there are no people any more. It is a ghost ship and entirely devoid of life yet continuing to sail, somehow, in the middle of the ocean. It is night. The darkness holds a pitch that cannot be comprehended without experiencing it. The kind that people think they know but never do know until they really know. Then, suddenly, I am not on the empty ship any more. The night remains. It is waiting to envelope me along with the ocean. I am falling. Falling. Falling.
I fall from the back end of the ship. I fall for what feels like…an eternity? No, let’s not be dramatic here. I fall for long enough to know that I am falling a bloody long way. I fall for long enough to hear the sea before I hit it. I fall for long enough to be able to see the whole of the rear of the ship before I can’t any more only, now, it is alive with life and people are in their cabins and on the decks and dancing and it is still dark and cold and the middle of the ocean but the ship is buzzing with light and life.
No one sees me fall, it is just the same as when I am trying to climb that steep road. I think a million thoughts before that was crashing over me and yet I remember not a single one and then I hit the water. It is freezing and shocks me and I struggle for breath from that point onwards. I struggle for everything from that point onwards. The wash from the ship is so huge it creates waves big enough to belong in a storm and it tosses me, effortlessly, under and up again. I can’t breath and the last thing I think, as I see the ship disappearing from my view with it’s little twinkling lights, is that this is not the way it was meant to be. This was not meant to be my end! They say it is a perfect murder! To lose a person off the side of a ship at night. You’ll die from hypothermia or drown long before a ship that size can turn around and that’s only if they know you went off the side.
This is my own perfect murder. Slowly sinking. All of a sudden seeing everything around me with an ethereal clarity that I can never achieve in my waking hours. I want that clarity. I want to see the world as I do in those moments before I wake up screaming where I lie. I want to feel my hair flowing around me in that effortless way that I can never achieve outside of the water. I want to feel hydrated in the way that you can only feel when you’re submerged, is this a primal desire that takes root when you’re in the womb?
This dream is back now. Normally I appreciate ‘bad’ dreams, I think they make you feel alive. I wonder if I should look up my old friends on the dreaded FaceBook and reignite the game. I wonder if I can ever lose focus on this awful dream again.

Why are the ends always the hardest? Its so easy to start things, we all seem to be incredibly good at it. The new and the fresh, a clean horizon. A new avatar. A brand new story. Uncomplicated, not messy and entangled yet. The new seems to be un-relational and therefor so simple. Falling in love a new, just getting the glow of each other. I am so sunburned, my skin has become leather.

Also we seem to project the new upon things that aren’t- like when we do discoveries of ”new” continents. New for who? Nothing is new new. But still this urge to consume the new, if we just get the new computer, life will feel less messy. A new fish to eat. I am a professional starter of things. Is it my ADHD that makes it easier? Then i guess the whole world is suffering from the same diagnosis.

But ending things? Things just fall apart until its too late for it to be saved, It just forcefully has to get worse and worse until its clearly not wanted anymore, thats an ending. Things need to go terribly bad before we let go. Is there someone out there that is terribly good at ends? If you are please step forward! An assassin? A professional breakup artist? A non profit couples councilor just screaming "BREAK UP ALREADY!!!”

If I counted it correctly Its been 27 days already on this little rafty thingy I started lovingly call Eileen. I sing come on Eileen every morning to her. And she sings back, somehow squeaky but its beautiful. How the hell could I survive for so long alone on her with all the wind and the lack of fresh water? I just miss a pair of human eyes to look at me. Maybe a touch, just a handshake or hug would be everything right now. I try to look deep into the fishes eyes before I eat them but they lack eyelids.

This feels like a joke from the writer above, a stupid joke or just a laziness or not knowing how to end things. Oh dear, why am I always blaming it on some unknown writer above? I don’t believe in god and still there is supposed to be a narrator toying with me. Who am I talking to anyway? If you are listening please let me die? Or can we just divide things into the simple: happy/sad ending dichotomy. In that case the happy ending would be that I would miraculously float into a piece of land I guess. But I know about 70 procent of this earth is water so why do we call it earth anyway? I think this happy end thing is VERY unlikely. But if I float into land then the whole LOST/Robinson Cruise scenario starts which can be fun for a while but seriously though? Is that really HAPPY ending? And then SAD would be that I die I guess. Just a little hurricane is all it takes. That would be another pop song. If I come out of this alive I will dedicate the rest of my life to pop-music.

Toora loora toora loo rye aye

Come on Eileen, oh I swear (well he means)

At this moment, you mean everything

You in that dress, oh my thoughts I confess

Verge on dirty

Ah come on Eileen

Come on Eileen

Don’t break up already, little rafty. Is there a point to a life not witnessed? I say to a fish head. Please encourage me and I will give back tenfold. I can’t breathe without applause for it. “You are the best at breathing. Your heart is the very, very best at beating. Come on you mean everything.” You are my only platform now. Don’t look at me, I look like shit.

Fish blood, though, is making me fucking invincible. We are the dream, you and me and me.

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Here’s another collective-consciousness trope that has come undone for me: hope. What is that anyway? This weird idea that by conceptualizing the possibility of rescue, I can derive from that the vital meaning that will keep my spirits up for another day, another week, another month, until something happens here on this infinite blankness of water that will spell my emancipation. It’s positively a religion in that complex of ideas we call Western civilization. BELIEVE, and you shall be set free!

Toora loora toora loo rye aye!

I don’t find it to be much use to me. I’ve been out here for so long. 48 days as far as my counting goes. I’ve been making marks on a beam with the fishing hook. A tattoo for my Eileen, you salty wench. There’s no knowing how much longer I could be out here before being found. I’ve tried my hand at some basic math at it, but have concluded that my primary assumptions are too uncertain to calculate any probabilities, even if I had a good idea of shipping routes and islands in these parts, which I don’t.

So there really is no knowing. I might live, and go on to write a book about my ordeal, become a minor celebrity on a fifteen-minute contract to inspire the world, maybe get married and start a family and never ever eat sushi ever again. Or I might die, and my body will wither for a while in the sun, and then be consumed by the creatures that live below. Do I have a preference for these? Sure, of course. But I’m tired of anchoring my peace of mind to one and fearing the other. It’s really not useful on a daily basis.

I don’t know if it’ll go into my hypothetical book as any kind of truth that revealed itself during this difficult time of my life. I guess you’d have to take a poll of all those lost at sea and check if there’s a significant statistical number of them who have forsaken hope as a source of meaning.

But no, if these are to be my last days, I’d rather spend them in good company, and Death has proven a much more peaceful companion than hope or God or Hakawati.

Death is a good listener.

And so I meander on in this endless monologue that’s the only stable fixture of this fluid existence, pontificating to Death and the quorum of listeners inside my head, who are held in rapt attention for once in my life, because out here where there is nothing external to distract, I’ve finally claimed that holy mental grail that eluded me for the forty years: the ability to think and deal with just one thing at a time.

It’s a beautiful thing really, this sushi dinner party I’m having with all the different people inside my head. I sing to them

These people round here
Wear beaten down eyes
Sunk in smoke dried faces
Resigned to what their fate is

And if it ends before all these conversations can written down, before my life fades like dreams fade in the morning light, then so be it, the world really was all the better for them having been had at all.

Eileen I’ll hum this tune forever
Eileen I’ll hum this tune forever

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Oh Eileen.
At this moment, you mean everything.

Its delirious but i can hear them.
All those who were lost at sea.
Those who were forced against their will and drowned.
Those who were forced against their will and choose freedom while jumping overboard.
Those who were crossing in rubber boats for a safety on the other side.
Those who were hiding in cargos to hide from their past lands.

I don’t know their names.

Oh how i wish i knew their names now.

All those corpses down here.
Crossing the ocean is like crossing a graveyard.

Yes, we crawled out of there too.

I somehow wonder
if there is a community down there, of these displaced bodies.
Maybe they developed gills, through a longing and a love.
An interdigital webbing, membranes of skin between fingers and toes.
They might have coral gardens and sushi dinners all the time.
Maybe they are wearing Kates necklace and Celine Dion is singing her song.

Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on
Once more you open the door.

Almost always drowning
The inside is leaking out of the corners of you, sailing down on the me.
Oh Eileen.
At this moment, you mean everything.

Bas Jan Ader, Amelia Earhart, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, are you down there too listening to me? I am singing out of tune I know.

Landscapes imprinted by millions of waves hitting the shore,
The fiction of the shore.
Toora loora toora loo rye aye

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When I gently balance, gently, carefully, friggin’ carefully, I can dangle my feet off the side of this mini-stage that could be home to both myself and myself but no-one else. Kate? Leo? Fuck off. Even if there was room.

My feet up to my knees immersed in fathomless depths. Of course I imagine things. Maybe teeth. In gristle-hard grimaces. My softening toes. Curious fishy mouths. I’m spacing out so hard, I no longer care about legs or the fact I have any. A sudden nick on my calf makes one leg real with sharp pain. I lift my leg up to see a clean cut. Bleeding. What? Sleep again.

I wake up and both my legs are so real. They’re real and covered in nylon netting and thrashing with fish and foam and fuck knows. STOP DANGLING YOUR FEET IN. I look to my side and watch a bottlenose dolphin eyeing me.

“I know, innit,” tuts the dolphin.

I’m being dragged towards a boat by my netted legs.

“Twats!” I croak at a cloud.

“Don’t leave me!”, a voice in my head that I’ve heard a million times before exclaims with terror. It’s Eileen.

She has been my only companion for so long now. Some primitive mammal part of my brain jerks and twitches and reacts.

My legs are caught. I’m in the water, holding on to Eileen. The pain is sharp. Flesh is being shorn. Panic sets in. I see close to me the knife I’ve used to fish. I grab it, and while holding on with one hand, dragging Eileen through the water with the other, I cut us loose from the fishing line. I heave myself back up on her, out of breath. A few breaths pass, and then I realize with terror what has just transpired. I jump up. My legs are stinging, blood trickling down.

I wave my arms at the fishing boat. “Stop! Come back!”

But they do not stop. They aren’t seeing me. Aren’t hearing me.

I scream at the top of my lungs, over and over, but the boat keeps receding into the distance.

I collapse in a mess of tears and blood, sobbing.

And then I turn towards Eileen.

“What did you just do you bitch!?!”

I don’t expect a response.

But after a moment, she responds.

"Covid 19

oh I swear (well he means)

At this moment, you mean everything

You in that dress, oh my thoughts I confess

Verge on dirty

Aw Covid 19!"

“What?”

A packet of anti-bacterial wipes appears in my hands. I open it to find a huge lock of Eileen’s lovely hair in it instead of the much needed wipes. I rub the hair all over my bloodied legs. I rub and I rub. I rub and I rub and I rub and I rub. It’s not helping. “I’m dying”, I drool.

“Don’t be dramatic,” says Eileen. “Someone is thinking of you. Hold on a bit longer, my precious cargo.”

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I’m pretty sure at this point that someone should have gotten to me. Just statistically speaking. Oh right, I did let one potential rescue get away. Or Eileen did. We haven’t spoken much lately; our relationship soured after that event. So I’ve been back to regular old loneliness.

Someone told me once that inuit have two hundred words for snow. Whether that’s true or not isn’t really an issue. Wikipedia or guys at parties going “well, actually…” aren’t around to correct me, so I get to believe it if I want. Also I almost can’t believe my human connection starvation has reached this level, but I would fucking relish one of those well-actually neckbeards monologuing at me while keeping me captive audience Those two thoughts may have been the ones that finally threw me over some internal sanity threshold and into arranging a sashimi party for my lonelinesses.

Categorizing loneliness has been a hobby for me. Well yes, if you’re going to be pedantic about it, everything I do besides catch fish is a hobby. But making categories of loneliness is so last month by now. Prisoners locked in cells first pass the time by counting every stone composing their cell walls, but eventually they’ll graduate from simple arithmetic to proper schizoid behavior, giving the stones names and personalities. I’m not immersed in many kinds of snow like the inuit. My

So here is my list of dinner guests and what I’ve named them:

Eilone. So named because she reminds me of my broken connection with Eileen:

Dressed in white, almost transparent. Keeps quiet.

Liminalis:

A hobo, dressed in tatters. Yells incoherences and doesn’t give a rat for table manners.

Solucituda:

A motherly figure, but overbearing and helicoptery. She takes too much care and has too much concern for me. I’m fine goddammit!

Divergitas:

Like the person that you can’t quite connect with because they remind you just enough of your lost connection to land in uncanniness. That friend, again, Eileen. I miss who we used to be.

Circumfusion

The life of the party, who just reminds you of what you could be having if you just reach for it you coward.

Ultrascopidem

Like one of those dime-a-dozen tv astrophysicists.

Soliloquese

Emo kid writing melodramatic prose late at night.

And of course, Morgan:

Ah Morgan! You’re not alone. I’m here for you. Be my girlfriend?