A friend recently blogged a Facebook note about how old habits and routines break down and fall away to make room for new habits that more directly align with whatever is coming next. She said the Black Eyed Peas’ current hit kept playing in her head –
I got a feeling
that tonight’s gonna be a good night
that tonight’s gonna be a good, good night…
- and that she had a feeling of anticipation, that she was on the edge of some great change.
Reading her thoughts brought to mind something I’d written to my friend Penny long ago. Penny moved away to California while we were still in our twenties and we began to write to one another. One night I saw an episode of thirtysomething and got an idea. Two of the characters had written a poem together over a long distance, passing a notebook back and forth through the mail, each adding a stanza before mailing it back. Why couldn’t we do that, I thought. So I bought a notebook and we began to write.
Lo these many years later, I read my friend’s “I got a feeling…” entry and decided to make a foray into The Box. Out came Volume V of the books that got mailed back and forth between New York and California for so many years. I didn’t have to turn too many pages before I found what I was looking for. I was surprised to see that my handwriting, usually so anally neat, was a bit scraggly-looking, but then I realized I’d been on the train when I wrote it, so I forgave myself
Thursday 22 December 1994
Just passing through Hicksville…
I made a note to myself to tell you about the “something’s coming” vs. “something’s missing” phenomenon.
“Something’s Coming” is a feeling I used to carry with me while growing up. I had this feeling until very recently. I realized it was gone when I started last summer (1993) to get the stage fright thing and the paralysis dream.
“Something’s Coming” is actually the name of a song from West Side Story – you recall, I’m sure, the line that goes, “Something’s coming, I don’t know what it is, but it is gonna be great!”. That’s the feeling, right there in that one line. There was nothing I couldn’t get through because I knew I was destined for “something”. Whatever it was, it would be wonderful, exciting and totally awesome. It would have a staggeringly positive impact on my life and maybe even the world. Whatever it was, it was BIG.
Now, I am horrified to suspect that it may just have been cancer.
I am rather upset that I have been deprived of feeling special and significant, however self-delusional that feeling was. At certain times in my life, it was all I had. It saved me, I am sure, from sinking into the abyss. In its place, there is now a big, fat nothing. “Something’s missing”.
I am not certain that I have ever stopped to articulate this so clearly before, even to myself. Reality really sucks, for it was a mega-dose of reality that wiped out my conviction that “something’s coming”.
So, how now to fill up the hole? I just bet there’s some sort of long, drawn-out, sucky mourning period involved here, on account of my profound loss of “something”. Yes, I know I’m being sarcastic, and no, I don’t care that I am. I prefer my world to be filled with peace and love, with equal doses of joy and wonder and excitement at the mere thought of life. And mostly, that’s how I am. I really detest all this negative shit that comes up in therapy, and I often wonder if the source of all this crap is endless or do I just keep manufacturing it anew?
I remember those years well, when my secret knowledge of “something” had me living on the giddy precipice of anticipation. What happened?
I was just thirty four when I wrote that letter to Penny. December of 1994 was two years post-diagnosis and about a year and a half post-treatment. I was floundering and resentful of the intrusion of catastrophic illness into my life.
It’s possible that life events had beat the crap out of me and I could no longer muster up the strength to sustain the illusion. Or, for a quasi-mystical point of view, it is possible that cancer really WAS what was “coming”. Or – and I think this was more likely – it was possible that I didn’t need it any more.
“Something’s coming” had gotten me through some grim times. I’d just proven that I could survive being gravely ill and all of the physical and psychological torment that had entailed. What need did I have for “something”?
Well, maybe I don’t need it, but I want it. I want that feeling back. The dream-giver DOES still wait for me. I’ve been on the smoothest course for a while now.
Time to shake things up