Hard To Listen To A Hard, Hard Heart

January 10th, 2006

A psychologist might call it “dissociation.”

I don’t feel like myself. I haven’t since Thanksgiving or so. It hasn’t manifested itself in any dramatic way. I feel disconnected from myself and others. I don’t feel like talking. I don’t have the energy to write, or record, or be creative in any way. I don’t want to go to work, or excercise. I don’t feel like doing anything except eating ice cream and watching television.

I feel like my soul is floating above me, and needs to settle itself back into my body.

A Stanford Medical School textbook, “Dissociation: Culture, Mind, And Body,” describes dissociation thusly:

Dissociation, the compartmentalization of experience, identity, memory, perception, and motor function, challenges many comfortable assumptions. Dissociative phenomena are often stark, extreme, and vivid. Memory for an entire period of time during which one was conscicous seems lost. Identities shift between apparent opposites. Pain is ignored. Trauma victims transform the experience and report floating above their injured bodies. Are these arcane, dramatic, or even staged events, or does dissociation underlie some fundamental aspect of mental organization? Is it merely the product of a troubled mind, or a key to understanding the structure of consciousness and the mind-body relationship? Is dissociation normal and the everyday perception of mental unity the delusion?

It’s been a while since I suffered any real trauma, but in retrospect, the events of 2004 (those which inspired both “Love & Other Indoor Games” and “Heartland”) certainly qualify. Whether they knocked my soul free of my body, or led me to compartmentalize those events is uncertain. But, as I slow down a bit, as I seek some stillness in the wake of a fast-paced, turbulent year, it begins to make some sense.

You should know that I’m reticent to even share this with you. For one, I loath complaining. For another, I feel like a broken record, vacillating between giddy optimism, and weighty pessimism. Finally, this is vulnerable stuff. And I don’t really know you. What’s to say I should share?

In then end, I decided to share because, well, I guess that’s what The Daily Journal is for. I started it on February 7, 2002. My primary objective was to personalize what was initially a website for my record label, Benjamin Wagner Deluxe, LLC. Secondarily, I wanted to create a reason for people to visit my site every day, and thereby create a sense of anticipation for things like new records and upcoming performances. But what’s happened is that it’s become a place where people expect some degree of disclosure. Event-based entries (“I did this, then I did that”) are met with silence. But confessional entries are met with a (relative) deluge of email. So I guess that’s why we’re here. Both of us.

Author Hughlings Jackson posits, “There is no such entity as consciousness. We are from moment to moment differently conscious.”

It all aligns, then. We are — as I so aptly suggested upon titling my debut release way back in 1993 — always almost there. This life is a constant state of becoming, of ebb and flow, up and down, in and out. We get there, and then there moves.

Growing up, my mother used to say, “This is the most difficult transition I’ve ever been through.” It annoyed the heck out of me. I was like, “You always say that” (adolescent emphasis on “always”). But — with apologies to my mom — I think I get it now.

This is it. Doesn’t matter how it feels relative to anything else. This is the challenge: To reconnect with myself. To feel whole. To stand on terra firma. And then to toss all the chips in the air again.

Next Thursday, I head to Park City, Utah, for a week. The following Wednesday, I head to Los Angeles, California, for ten days. I am already marching towards a new record for time spent away from my apartment, away from my home, and away from me.

I don’t like the looks of it.

But this is it. This is what I paid for. This is what I do. This is my life. I am who I want to be.