The thread from the common dread of the unknown weaves itself into the fabric of our lives, with all its knotty imperfections and colorful imagined details. This dread sinks ships and brings down great enterprises of humanity through inaction of thought. It paralyzes humanity with its circles upon circles of obtuse and opaque feelings until the mind whimpers for surrender. The magnitude of an invisible weight that descends on the subject employs the terror of impossibly circuitous reasoning that cannot allow itself a resolution. The dark becomes darker and the light fades faster and faster. Columns of understanding fall like dominoes to the force unlike any. Thus is the victimization of the mind.
Legions of artists have fallen to this lonely force. Some have forced themselves to self-mutilation while others have collapsed into a heap sniffing the vapor less odorless colorless stealth of poisonous gases. This ingenious mind that crafts via axioms, theories of life and understanding, is the same mind that is capable of such infinite love and unspeakable horror. The prisons that reside inside vastly outrank those on the outside, capturing the inner peace leading to a sustained discordant sound that grates the very nerve of contentment and life.
She was once a lady of fashion and means. The street used to stare at her, eyes worshipping the cloth colors that bound her heavily photographed figure. There was a parade of desire and sycophancy surrounding her day and night. Every move catalogued and reviewed for its elegance, poise and ultimately as all things commanding a stare, fiscal reward. The paparazzi made fortunes with their black cameras and long telescopic lenses, peering from nooks and crannies of the heavily shielded walls, half opened doors and supposed hidden vacations where a ‘lucky’ photographer would catch her in another stunning coiffure fit for the magazine cover. Life was good then, ideal for the sought and the seeker.
As all good things do come to an untimely end when least expected or desired this one too died a sudden death. The desire vanished and so did the seekers. Perhaps another elegance had arrived and taken over the mantle ‘worthy of worship’. The delight of one turned into a suffering for the other. This was the ying and the yang, transference without loss, no entropy a perfect example of the first law of thermodynamics.
“So what happened to her?”
“Oh she was hurt first and as all do she resorted to the crutch for stability; alcohol. She spent a lot of money on changing her looks to turn back the clock and un ring the bell but nothing worked. The more she tried the worse it got. Her face distorted with plastic surgery created hideous views for the cameras. Once loved for the looks now she was vilified through cruel jokes. It all turned hideous on her. The establishment seemed to rain down snide invectives. Life became a burden.” He said cracking his knuckles of his right hand, one torturous knuckle at a time.
“Is that when she tried to commit suicide?”
“Yes but it was more a cry for help.”
“So they saved her pumping her stomach and all.”
“Yes.” He said leaning over, his stethoscope dangling around his neck precariously. “But she could not understand that her time had come and gone. The fifteen minute of media created fame was over and now it was time for reinvention.”
“What could she do?”
“Reinvention is a subject worthy for all of us. Times change as the world turns and the past slowly and inexorably peels away from the present to reveal the future, just like the laminate off the diploma on the wall- slowly at first, then one day the diploma appears grey, dirty and unclothed.”
“But she lived didn’t she?”
“Oh yes that she did. She walked in and out of half way houses, specialty wards and hospitals trying to quell the need for attention. The monster that was created by her need and those on the outside could not be tamed for the longest time. Many bouts of self-inflicted injuries and finally after fifteen years of polishing the old paradigm, she came clean.”
“Nothing spectacular. Just one day she cried her eyeballs out and then the next day she started the journey of self discovery.”
“Just like that?”
“Pretty much. Never looked back.”
“But financially she was ruined wasn’t she?”
“Yes that she was, but money did not seem to mean much anymore, just like the fame and being the eye of the media hurricane once, was a thing of the past. What mattered was one day at a time. She would spend days in the library reading everything that came in her view. She spent countless days researching arcane subjects of interest only to her. But slowly as surely as the night turns to day the gulf between the need and the want became obvious to her.” The pregnant pause of uncertainty loomed. He fell quiet not knowing where to go next, or what to say, or whether to prolong the conversation further.
“Amazing, isn’t it. How the fragile mind can replenish itself?”
“Truly! In fact it was a spring Saturday afternoon when I was in the library and she quietly walked to the corner of the table where I was sitting and sat her self down with an armful of books. She never looked up. But I knew then that that was the woman I was going to marry.” He thumped his fist gently on the table in front and a smile broke out on his face.
“What! You mean Mary is The Mary?”
“Yes, not many know, only a select few friends”. He said with a smirk on his face.
The way he said it with quiet self-assuredness showed the triumph of his life and the cornerstone of his being.
Two souls, one lost to the outside world for a while and the other lost to the inner field of medicine both found each other on that happy spring day in a library. Happy in their togetherness, content in their discovery, now, as one in thought and mind capturing what life has to offer.
The consequences of detachment from a self that one does not know but fears for losing and that attachment for the self that one knows well will never be lost, is the essence of a human life’s wanderings. It is in the latter that contentment and happiness resides. This psychiatrist’s tale and that of his love, underscores the need for all to know the true inner self.