we shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time
little gidding, ts eliot
a while ago my spanish friend told me about a film called the defiant ones starring tony curtis and sidney poitier. the film focuses on two prisoners who are able to escape when the vehicle they are being transported in is involved in a crash. these two men are shackled together and must learn to overcome their mutual hatred and work together in order to survive. one of the characters (played by poitier) is intelligent and resourceful, while his companion seems, at first at least, to be foolish and clumsy, a hindrance to the two escapees’ progress.
my friend pointed out that this is a rather neat metaphor for my situation; i am divided in two, but the two are both stuck with each other. one of my selves is the ill disabled one, all the cannots and does nots; and and the other is my spirit, the non physical manifestation, who strives to be as alive as possible despite all her restrictions and limitations. i live dual lives in the same body, walk (so to speak) along two separate paths.
one of the most baffling peculiarities of the human condition is the whole mind-body conundrum, the confusion of existing in both material and metaphysical aspects. being alienated from, or at war with, one’s body adds another layer of discombobulation and identity crisis. many of us who are middle aged or beyond have discovered the daft indignation of never looking how we think we should in the mirror. i don’t just feel like there is a slimmer version hidden inside and screaming to escape from my unable to exercise, overweight self; much of the time i simply don’t relate to or recognise my physical being at at all.
i recall that i used to have an overview of sorts, a sense of the trajectory of my illnesses and how they have behaved over time. the better and worse episodes, the downs and ups. but in recent years my perspective has clouded over, and i can no longer trace any clear chronological narrative of my ill existence up to this point.
too much time spent in the shadowy place of nightmares and fever, chasing after meaning in the dark. too many hours and days out of touch with the living breathing world. having over and over to recalibrate and relearn a crazy sort of balancing act. i don’t get to go elsewhere to search for peace of mind. i have to try to locate it here, somewhere on this little patch of land i call the wrong planet.