Enter the Maze

How do I explain this? Okay, sometimes I look at other people and I imagine their heads are like eggs. If you crack them open (non-violently of course) inside you will find egg whites and a yolk. This is normal. This is healthy.

I feel like when God made me He jammed a tub of cotton candy, twisty patterns, endless tunnels to other worlds, a whole village of people with strong personalities, eight vastly different pairs of shoes and a box of crayons into my egg-head. I hope I never have to get brain surgery. Because I have this sinking feeling that I’ll freak out the surgeons.

I’m not saying that there is something wrong with me, but there are definitely times when I feel like I’m doing everything I can to hide the fact that I might be a ‘crazy person’. Sometimes it’s incredibly frustrating to try and keep ‘the brain beast’ under control. Someone can be having an entire conversation with me and I will be looking right into their eyes, even nodding, but I can be in a completely different place, having no idea what they’re saying. I want to listen. I want to be a part of what the person is talking about. But my mind takes off without consent. I’ll catch the first few words, and then notice something across the room, or something they say will trigger an idea or thought, and then I’m gone. For the next couple of minutes while they talk, I’m not aware of anything except what my mind is producing.

It’s borderline embarrassing. If I’m not quick on my feet at the time I won’t be able to come up with some sort of stuttering response to whatever I think they were talking about. Usually I have to take a wild guess. And thankfully I’m usually right. But sometimes I’m not, which makes me look really stupid.

It started in high school, I think. But maybe it was before that. I had systematically trained myself to sit in a chair and check out, the moment the teacher opened his/her mouth. I would stare at them so they thought I was listening. But I would be somewhere else entirely, creating a distant landscape or engaging in some ridiculous legendary battle that I’d fabricated in my mind. I was doing it on purpose at first. But after a few years of getting into the habit, I couldn’t stop. Daydreaming became my kryptonite.

It started getting really bad when I could sit by myself for hours with no concept of what time it was. In those moments the idea of having to move was aggravating, almost unthinkable. I would watch things; machines, people, animals, trees. I would study them obsessively until I understood how they worked, or discovered every detail. A tree is not just a tree. It is branches, leaves, a trunk, bark, moss, buds, bugs, and sometimes birds. And it feels cold, sometimes moist, depending on the tree. I don’t know why I ever realized this. Trees really aren’t of any concern to me. Why do I even care? I don’t. But for some stinking reason I notice it anyway. Bah.

85% of the time I’m battling between trying to pay attention to what’s important (like someone talking to me, remembering that I have to make supper, or that I should probably do the laundry) and the overwhelming pull that is taking me in another direction – somewhere that isn’t important but consumes me. Some fantasy land I create. Plotting out the traits of a character that isn’t real. Some crisis that would cool for the character to overcome.

It’s exhausting. Several times a day I’m telling my brain to shut up. Who talks to their own brain? I don’t typically sleep well on a normal night either – usually because I just think and think and think and think…

The weird part is that I actually can focus on something, if it’s something I like. If it’s making the preparations for something that I can see the big picture of that no one else seems to get, I can do it. I can do it because I want to prove the world wrong. I want to do it so that everyone can see the end result, the way I see it. People don’t always see what I see, the big dream that I know will be amazing once it’s finished. In those instances my focus is spear-like.

I’m not going to lie, I think if I didn’t believe in God, if I didn’t have the relationship with Him that I have, I would have probably lost my mind by now. I would be restless all the time. Peace was foreign to me, until I really started to pursue God to the point of choosing to give those things, those parts of me that I typically can’t control, to Him. He keeps the aimless wanderings going in the right direction at least. I must focus my energy on something. So I know I can accomplish masterpieces if I keep my focus on Him.

Not everyone gets my need to constantly spring into a new situation or venture out into new territory. It’s not that I’m reckless. And it’s not that I’m ignorant and don’t understand the risks. It’s that I’m trying to feed the howling ‘brain-beast’ that won’t shut up until I do.

Not everyone gets my need to escape either. I love people, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes I realize that I need seclusion, and I don’t know where the freak-desperation comes from without warning, but sometimes I just need to be by myself so that I can ‘hear myself think’. Little distractions instantly become my enemy. I need to focus, or I will lose my train of thought. And if I lose my train of thought I might never get it back. And for whatever reason my mind deems it pivotal to keep these little thoughts safe, like they are priceless treasures that are worth a fortune.

It’s so weird. I’m not saying it’s normal. I was never really a normal kid – even in elementary school I had more than one teacher that had to pull me aside to get me in trouble for handing in papers with doodles and pictures coloured in around all the margins of the paper and only half the required school notes. I never broke that habit. In fact, halfway through my grade 10 math exam I gave up and just wrote, “I don’t need math. I will get through life with my art” across the page. And then I handed it in. Granted, at the time I might have been a little na├»ve. But I was never good at exams.

You know, finally confessing all of this actually makes me feel better about it. I think I just needed to let it all out for a change. Thank God, for God. I can’t even comprehend what my life would be like without Him.

And for the record I’m not crazy. Just a little distracted on a regular basis.

That’s my rant. Tootles.

Silence of the Pigs

This will be a different kind of blog post today. I want to give a glimpse into the uncharted territory of a place that is constantly moving through wisps of colour and untamed adventures in lost worlds. This place haunts me at times, but amazes me at others. And though I can be looking straight at someone; an acquaintance, a teacher, a consultant, this place is often travelling in a different direction than what it’s supposed to, making it exceedingly difficult for me to focus. On more than one occasion this area has been my downfall. It’s been my struggle – the one that others don’t know about or can’t possibly understand because it’s hidden behind my naturally deceiving green-umber eyes. This place is my advantageous yet treacherous ever wandering mind. It’s strange, in a way, to put the thoughts that spear in a hundred different directions every second into words, because usually they move too fast for me to catch a hold of them. But heck, why not give it a shot? I’ll grab my butterfly net.

I was sitting outside. The sun was warm, almost a little too warm, making me sweat in places I don’t want to talk about. But I barely noticed it. Because as I was sitting in my rickety rusted lawn chair and staring at my boring yet frustratingly addictive phone, I was rudely thrown into a mental state of panic when I heard the sharp rising squeals and screams that erupted from across the fields. My eyes shot up. Around me, miles of various crops stared back at me blankly as they drifted in the gentle wind. But my heart started to thud a little faster. Because regardless of the calmness in the fields that wrapped around my backyard for miles, usually screams only mean one thing; danger.

There was an eerie dancing in the breeze. Something was wrong.

I stood, eyes grazing over the fields one last time, and then headed for the shed. I don’t keep a lot of things in my shed, just what’s been tossed in there over the years; tools, gardening gloves, a shovel, a tarnished bike with only one wheel, a first aid kit, a hatchet, a few dead mice, extra gasoline and…my grandfather’s black bow.

My arrows were mostly destroyed, with notches chipped out of them and whatever glossy finish that once covered them being mostly disintegrated. But I still remembered how to shoot, though I hadn’t done it in a very long time.

I took what I needed, considering the history for only a moment before I slung the sheath of arrows over my arm, and then squished a spider that fell off beneath the toe of my boot.

Spiders. They don’t scare me.

I headed for the fields. At first, I considered that my best option would be to move into the corn so that I would be shielded on all sides. But my instincts told me it would be faster to go on a direct path through the wheat. So I went, gripping my bow so tightly at my side that I could feel a splinter edging it’s way into my pinky.

The screams began to rise again unexpectedly, sending chills through my bones and making me almost falter my next step. I swore, not using one of the worst words I could think of, but still one that might not have been appropriate to say out loud at my mother’s house. But I didn’t have a lot of options on this route. They would see me coming. I knew they would.

I broke into a run, hoping for the sake of the screamers that I wasn’t going to get there too late. My body drove forwards into a string of long strides that made the series of buildings before me draw closer, giving me better vision of what was to come. But there was trouble. I suddenly ducked left when I saw movement, and nearly plowed into a silo. I winced at the impact of my shoulder colliding with the blue metal wall before I was able to correct my calculation.

Okay, I swore again. This time it was the worst word I could think of. Bad Jen.

I put my back against the silo and slid down to a sitting position to clear my head and try to refocus from the throbbing that was making its way down my arm. The screams had died down, which made me nervous. I hoped I hadn’t missed my chance to intervene.

There was a noise that made me freeze. It was like the sound of someone crunching popcorn seeds in their teeth. But as the sound became a rhythm, I realized there was someone less than twenty meters away from me that was walking on gravel. And he was drawing closer. If I was going to move, it had to be now.

I snatched my bow out of the grass and peered around the silo, searching for the company. And when I saw nothing but an empty laneway that seemed to extend at least half a mile before it even reached a road, or any kind of civilization for that matter, I bolted for the next building over. As I approached, I heard a commotion inside, something that made me stop at the door before going in. I reached up slowly and drew an arrow, as my eyes narrowed in on something past the door that I couldn’t see yet. The screams, they came from this building.

The thudding began rising in my chest again. I held my bow up, a little nervously because there was a good chance my aim was rusty, and I inched the door open with my foot. Everything inside was dark. Shadows stretched across the length of the building that were almost too dark to be defined. But I could see movement. I could hear it too. I reached to my back pocket and pulled out my phone, which in addition to having a sweet Pinterest app also contained a rare high tech lens that would allow me to see in the dark. I held up my phone and kept my eyes glued to the screen as I scanned the room with appropriate caution. And then the noises began.

It started like a low pitched growl, similar to what might appear in a child’s nightmare. And then it rose, cracking into a tone that went higher and higher until the frequency was so startling it sent shivers rippling across my flesh. I dropped my phone in alarm and spun around, trying to blink away the blurriness that was starting to form. I peered down the arrow that shook slightly under my grip and tried desperately to make out the shapes that were positioned in the darkness around me. I needed to shoot, now, or it would get me, whatever it was. I opened my mouth but my throat was dry.

“Hello?” I rasped, hoping it wasn’t too late for friendly conversation. When there was no reply I started to shrink down to retrieve my phone, which had bounced a half a meter from where I was standing. I rose slowly, flicking the night vision back on, and raised the device in front of me, and as a sudden form appeared, filling the screen, I shrieked. Fear exploded through my limbs, making me spring into action. I released my phone and heard it clatter somewhere in the darkness. My hand shot back up to my bow and I shot the arrow, hitting whatever monster was before me right between its bright threatening eyes.

I couldn’t breathe.

I was ready to run but I’d heard a slump on the ground. And no more noises were coming from the darkness. So instead, I leaned forwards with my hands on my knees and tried to catch my breath. This felt unreal. Finally, I marched forwards and grabbed my phone, unable to stand it any longer. Whatever monster this was, I needed to see it. I flicked the light on my mobile to its fullest measure of brightness and tilted it down to see what I’d hit.

A pig. It was a pig.

I grunted.

Well that was a whole lot of drama for nothing.

Yesterday I was sitting outside on my phone. Lame. I know. But I do love Pinterest. And as I was sitting there, I overheard the legitimately startling sound of our distant neighbour’s pigs squealing so loud that it really did sound like I’d woken up in a horror movie. What really happened was I took a look across the bean field, shrugged to myself, went back to pin a cool recipe and then headed inside for a pomegranate. But in those short moments of looking out towards my neighbour’s farm my mind took me through a completely different scenario, all in a matter of seconds. And I thought it would be interesting to share.

It can’t stop it. It does it on it’s own.

….and now I feel like bacon.