I close my eyes and see myself standing on a shoreline. The gentle whispers of the ocean encircle and envelop me, only to turn into ferocious screams that tear the skin from my flesh. My form is broken, yet I remain. Foaming spears of staggering rage turn into mysterious shapes of slumbering beauty in an instant. Then back again. I smile. Knowing this world has so many uncharted depths big enough to swallow each of us is not only fascinating; it is comforting.
Someone smiles. A serpent's tongue between crooked teeth. Stay away.
Setbacks are piled upon one another, to the point where I no longer know which slap has left the most enduring ache. Though I suppose it doesn't really matter anyway. I'm a lonely pin dead set in the middle of the aisle, the rumbling sound of the approaching bowling ball the only assurance that I'm still standing. After all, otherwise I couldn't be torn down. Fists raised, I back into a corner - only to realize there is no corner to cower in and my heels are pushing pebbles down another gaping maw behind me. There is no release.
The uneasy silence is broken by a bellowing noise of something crumbling down and disintegrating. I question myself at every turn. Each decision and aspiration is under constant, skewed scrutiny. My sleep is shallow, filled with dreams of betrayal under masques of friendly faces. I awake unrested and high-strung, awaiting confrontation. My hands shake with rage. Eventually something will give.
I paint faces on my mistakes and swallow down failure with a bitter smirk. I catch myself swimming in the memory of some recent collision I wasn't wise enough to dodge and my lungs expel a dry heave of a laugh. My glass is empty, so I spit in it. Blood. Hit me again. I dare you.
I reminisce about moments of shared sanctuary only to discover shadows of deception previously unnoticed. The man in the mirror begs me to learn from this.
My voice grows softer with every ounce of distrust and disdain amassing inside. I strive to be a greater mannequin of manners with every cold shiver of misantrophy, each stronger than the last. Distance drains my vocabulary one word at a time and I resort to instinctual communication. Such that leaves no discernable imprint and I can exit the situation without leaving a trace.
Perhaps I'm being tested.
This is why there is music in my life. Why a poet's words can pierce my heart. Why a mere whiff of uninhibited imagination allows me to grow wings. Why nothing is ever as fulfilling as bearing my soul through a lonely microphone. Why every note and melody brings forth colors and shapes behind my eyes.
It's why Wagner and Mussorgsky have the power to dismantle and rebuild me like a tattooed monster of Frankenstein. Why I need an hour or two to recover after hearing Colonel Kurtz's monologues in Apocalypse Now. Why Matthew Good's Weapon, The Black League's Winter Winds Sing, Massive Attack's Live With Me and Triptykon's My Pain hinder my ability to speak as my view becomes blurred by the beauty of their faces in my mind's eye. Why Thoreau's Walden makes my smile grow wide and my eyes water. Why I sometimes melt into the shadows just to enjoy the ringing sound of friends' laughter. Why I'm always surrounded by guitars.
Creativity. The one singular, sanctified, impenetrable essence no one can steal, quench or quell. It is mine.
I am no more its slave than it my servant. Neither needs to break their back to service the other, yet we are intertwined and inseparable to a sometimes painful degree. Our bond is forged by the most mysterious and elusive form of togetherness - we keep one another breathing.