The House Burns

My alarm rings at 6:30am and I open my eyes to greet the day.

I lean over to grab my phone resting on its wireless dock, fumble over stacks of books piled haphazardly by my bedside, and snooze the alarm. Most days I roll right back over and stare at the white ceiling for a good time. Or I remain on my side, arm protruding out from under me, and gaze out the floor-to-ceiling windows, towards the bright blue open sky spreading itself over the concrete and glass buildings which solemnly stand in succeeding rows extending down the city streets.

I stare blankly. Thoughts circulate in the background. My subconscious tries to keep these currents of thought from protruding into my placid wakeful peace, but eventually one pressing problem works its way into my empty consciousness and the the whole mess of working thoughts begin writhing within me.

Problems that expand infinitely in every direction. Shutting them off is easy. I just, don’t care. But not caring invites the sad empty apathy of melancholy that depresses my attitude and invites dark morbid existential moods.

So I entertain these problems, these urgent puzzles that require the attention of my mental faculties. It is consuming, like a hydra with infinitely manifesting flaming serpents demanding my attention, demanding to be severed or stroked or extinguished.

Often it feels that my internal world, the cathedral where I command my curiosities to tasks, feels as if it is on fire, but it never burns down.

Raging and swirling fire with bellowing smoke and biting flames, this is my wakeful state.

Everything is burning, night and day. The flames expand exponentially. Finishing a task dampens a single ember. The whole of the cathedral is burning, while I spit on the flames.

This is overwhelming. But I’m quick to recall that historically speaking, existence is mostly devoid or altogether incapable of peace, and I remind myself that peace is a foreign ideal, like a distant star that smiles from afar, and radiates dim light on gazing eyes wandering in dark lands. Pale light that illuminates dark landscapes and casts cool shadows. A light to wish upon, but open eyes will never see the full spectrum of color that only the peace of death provides when they close.

But this fire, this burning house that consumes the oxygen of my imagination, this provides some existential light.

There is something pacifying about feeling the alarm, with senses totally engaged. The fire inside burns, it alerts, it creates a sense of all consuming urgency.

Days are never dull. There is endless work. My house is on fire, and I need to save it.

This provides purpose.

There are moments when this great cathedral representing all that I am responsible for slows to a steady burn, and I’m left with space to strategize, to organize my actions in anticipation for the next wind that will ignite the wall of fire all over again.

This is the extent that my imagination stretches its legs. This is what I enjoy the most. How to create economy. How to identify the patterns dictating my tasks and synthesize them into a unified movement, to conserve energy, while increasing productivity and getting ahead of the burn.

This exercise in imagination, however, is a sad reflection of the great distances it wishes to run, a paltry expression of its indomitable spirit which yearns to roam infinite expanses and conjure endless worlds.

This is the conundrum that defines my daily existence.

Is there any freedom left for imagination? Have the reigns of responsibility made my imagination a more disciplined instrument for survival?

Or is this domestication optional? Is reckless abandonment the only attitude to free the mind and release the imaginative energies clawing at my insides, behind my blank empty stare?

I catch myself gazing into the infinite, through the people and noises and buildings occupying my immediate awareness, penetrating into other worlds, in other places. Bittersweet memories, painful recollections, and disembodied joy imbue these meditations.

Observation is stillness, is peace.

Sometimes I observe the raging fire. Sometimes I exit the figurative room and walk into the figurative street and observe the figurative house as it burns, the people and things and rooms burning within. I observe the flames, now at a distance, and think of the madness this represents. But soon my eyes wander from the burning house to the dark empty landscape surrounding it, and a cold lonely chill seizes my being.

The burning house illuminates this empty dark space representing existence, and while it burns, with fragments collapsing all around me, it lights my world, and provides the only semblance of heat to warm my soul.

In this way, I continue my days.

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