Monthly Archives: June 2016

how do you sleep at night?

How old are you? How much do you weigh? What did you eat that day? Well what did you have for dinner? Who made dinner? Did you drink with dinner? No, not even water? When did you drink? How much did you drink? What container did you drink out of? Who gave you the drink? How much do you usually drink? Who dropped you off at this party? At what time? But where exactly? What were you wearing? Why were you going to this party? What’ d you do when you got there? Are you sure you did that? But what time did you do that? What does this text mean? Who were you texting? When did you urinate? Where did you urinate? With whom did you urinate outside? Was your phone on silent when your sister called? Do you remember silencing it? Really because on page 53 I’d like to point out that you said it was set to ring. Did you drink in college? You said you were a party animal? How many times did you black out? Did you party at frats? Are you serious with your boyfriend? Are you sexually active with him? When did you start dating? Would you ever cheat? Do you have a history of cheating? What do you mean when you said you wanted to reward him? Do you remember what time you woke up? Were you wearing your cardigan? What color was your cardigan? Do you remember any more from that night? No? Okay, well, we’ll let Brock fill it in.

 

The above questions come from a lawyer questioning a woman who was raped the man who raped her, Brock was sentenced to a few months in prison. I’ll start off by asking anyone who hasn’t to read this letter because it’s necessary. Her story is extremely important and I hope that I can write what I’m about to write without taking away from it.

 

Brock the raper hired a lawyer to defend him in court. This is a right that we extend to criminals because no matter what a man or a woman does they are still human. I have heard it said that society forms itself around the need to lessen the damage caused by vengeance and vendettas. I have thought many times that the frustrating thing about the law and the legal system, its speed or lack thereof, is  not a bug but a feature. It allows emotions to cool and time to pass. It allows wounds to begin healing. The law at its best, at the ideal that we hope it will reach and that we strive for delivers justice for all while reminding us that nothing, nothing at all can strip any of us of our humanity. Not our sins, our crimes or our histories. We are all human beings.

 

This is a difficult thing to reach for because reaching for it means that a good man somewhere will feel compelled to defend people like Brock the raper. It means a greedy man somewhere will have some justification to defend people like Brock the raper. It means that either of these two will have to ask the questions up there. Will have to hit at the prosecution’s case until it cracks. I don’t think it’s easy.

 

People have asked me since I joined university what would I do if I had to defend a murderer. For nine years I have been asked this question and had to think of an answer. This is one of the biggest moral quandaries of this profession do the guilty who we know are guilty deserve as much of a defence as the innocent we believe are innocent? The answer has to be yes. But yet how can it? How can the answer to that question possibly be yes? In what way could that be considered justice? Is that fair? Is that the world we want to live in?

 

It’s a question we all struggle with in our various ways. We hide behind the constitution and its provisions of fair trials for everyone. We remind ourselves that it is not the guilty person being defended but the justice system. The religious amongst us find an analogue to the story by Jesus that ends with ”….in the same way, I tell you that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous ones who do not need to repent.” Many of us drink. A lot compartmentalise. You have to build those compartments in your mind. You have to shield this part of yourself from the other parts. It can’t also be the part that goes to church. It can’t also be the part that falls in love. It can’t also be the part that wants to run around with children. It can’t also be the part that sits down to have a drink with new acquaintances except that new acquaintances feel like they can ask you this question. They feel as if this deep moral dilemma can qualify as small talk and so you learn how to treat it as small talk. How to deflect it, turn it into a joke. There really is no correct answer to the question what would you do if Brock the raper came into your office and asked you to represent him? Either you would defend him or you wouldn’t and either way there’s something you betray. Your sense of rightness and justice for the individual or your sense of rightness and the ideal of justice.

 

I wonder if this , getting asked, happens to other people or if lawyers are fair game for reasons beyond understanding. Do doctors get asked by people they just met about the deaths of patients? About those horrible decisions they have to make between mother and child? Do they also get hounded about the things they have done that blacken their souls? Do priests? I know politicians do. Maybe it’s different and difficult because the law is a profession that arose out of human moral failings. It came about to regulate the worst impulses in all of us. Lawyers are there because people lie. We exist because people kill, steal and rape. We are important because given enough leeway you can find yourself in jail because the policeman’s wife smiled at you. The people in government lie, cheat and steal too and if we start saying that people accused of murder do not deserve a defence more people will be accused of murder. Protestors will and journalists will. Loudmouth drunks in bars will and pretty boys in clubs will. People with contrary opinions will and those whose star shines a bit too bright will too.

 

You see I have given thought to this question. I have been preparing myself for something like this for years and years because it would be folly not to consider the possibility of it. What I couldn’t prepare myself for is how much fun cross-examination is. I read all these books about advocacy and everyone said that cross-examination is the spice of law. That it is in that thing that’s not an art and not a science that you will find if your soul sings for the law. I can remember my first. I can remember where I was and the little droplets of sweat on my fingertips because I was so nervous. The way I felt afterwards I was ready to quit love and other drugs. There was only one thing  for me and it was whatever flooded my body at that time. It was beautiful,  sweet as a song, lovely as a lass. My soul sang and put down all doubts about doing anything else for at least a few years.

 

They pick me right up, these cross-examinations. It feels like a fight should. The way they are described in the best of books:

 

High, low, overhand, he rained down steel upon her. Left, right, backslash, swinging so hard that sparks flew when the swords came together, upswing, sideslash, overhand, always attacking, moving into her, step and slide, strike and step, step and strike, hacking, slashing,
faster, faster, faster . . .
Jaime could not have said how long he pressed the attack. It might have been minutes or it might have been hours; time slept when swords woke. –
George R.R. Martin  A Storm of Swords

It comes close to that feeling. Time almost sleeps and I’ve only been doing this a couple of months. I’m sure it’s the kind of thing that feels better and better the better you get at it. Like sex. Like sports. I even get the feeling of being lost to the rest of the world for that time. Sounds disappear and  all that there is are the wits you match against the witness in front of you. What you heard from your client, what you read in your file and the answers they give to you. It’s toe work and it feels great.

 

Then you have a client like Brock and you know what tack you have to take if you are going to serve him to the best of your ability. There is something shameful that demands to be done but it’s been years at this and you can rationalise it. Maybe you believe that justice is worth it all and maybe it’s money that drives you. Whatever it is you have to ask a series of questions like the ones up there. Questions that will get you hated, maligned, misunderstood and maybe do the same to any defender of yours. But, you do it. You start slowly because you are scared. Respectfully because you are human and you don’t like doing what you are about to do and then you continue into that forest. Swords swing and you get lost in it. The question about how do you sleep at night that everyone asks is :how do you sleep at night when you defend a person you know to be guilty? The answer to that has been done to death. There is however at the end of that day a more difficult question. How do you sleep at night when what you did to that girl, those questions you asked her, those moments you grilled her made you feel more alive than anything else you had done for weeks? How?

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29 29 29 rhymes without trying, sounds so fine, I ain’t lyin’

Imagine seeing the solar system from far,far away. Far enough away that in your field of view is the sun and all the planets with eyes that make this possible. From there you can see the sun shines red hot. A giant ball of fire. There is lava jumping in and out of it. Red and yellow snakes diving into that cesspool and jumping back out. Half a million explosions a second and then there are the planets. The children of the sun arrayed in splendor and service. The third rock from the sun is beautiful. It is white and blue and there is the hint of life in it. Inside this thing there are billions of stories and circumstances that it is impossible to imagine and all this happens as this rock rotates and revolves hurtling through space at the mindboggling speed of 30 kilometers per second. Per second.

 

For all these speeds the distance being covered is large 150,000,000 kilometers in a year and today for the 29th time I have completed this marathon. I have gone again 150,000,0000 kilometers’. Thinking about it like that in terms of distance covered it’s much easier to remember that nobody turns 29 in a day it takes 29 years. Next birthday I’m going to have to pretend that I don’t care I’m turning thirty  but today I can write it out as much as I care to. 29 29 29 rhymes without trying, sounds so fine, I ain’t lyin’.

 

I can say that I’m in a much better place this year than I was last year. I feel much more fulfilled and life has been kinder to me. It was at 28 after all that I finally left the shelter of my parents (hopefully) forever. It took a long time but in my defence this career I chose doesn’t allow you to earn a living wage until you’re much older than your compatriots and I took a meandering route to work. One filled with breaks and sabbaticals and travels and laying about doing nothing. Even back then I knew I would work for the rest of my life and didn’t see what the hurry for it was. The reason that seems to bang in people’s minds is money, money, money. I was however fortunate enough to come from a family that’s reasonably well off where I wasn’t being forced into breadwinner status because of the conditions at home and this gifthorse is the kind to be looked at anywhere but in the mouth. So I took my time. And three months after I was admitted to the bar I left home. Gods that felt good. I was practically running. I went to see the house I would live in on my birthday last year and knew I would take it because time had come calling. Then I paid that deposit and paid those movers and bought all the little things you forget about: adapters and extension cable and bulbs and endured a broke as fuck month afterwards.

 

But then I was on my own. This year is the first time I have lived on my own. Living by yourself is hard I think. It requires a lot of adjustment there is a clawing loneliness the first few months. I would walk into that house and see nobody and hear nobody. The couch the bed the table the computer the fridge the food the gas but nobody. No one real, no one I could talk to or touch. It was difficult for me. And when I talked to other people it turned out it had been difficult for them too. Even a ghost would have been appreciated then I read a book Pilgrim at Tinder Creek by Annie Dillard it must have been the end of that month when I went to Mombasa for work. There was a passage that I can’t quite find and would love to because this woman writes like spurn gold. She talks about spiders and says something like –anything that would stake its living on another insect walking into a 10 by 10 cm web in a corner of the room deserved my support. And she convinced me too. Insects were let in. I stopped killing the bugs and ants and let the spider webs flourish telling myself that they too are children of god. This kind of thing nobody tells you about moving out. The way you appreciate all forms of life. Here in Meru a couple of months ago a mushroom started growing in my bathroom door. I loved seeing it. Wondering how this could have happened. Then the cleaning lady must have chopped it away or something because it’s not there anymore.

 

But that gets better. The loneliness subsides. There’s whatsapp, there’s bars, there’s best of all women. I still don’t think that there is a better antidote for loneliness than women or a woman. Maybe family but family is special a thing not of this world when it’s done right. Something greater than…

 

I’ve been confronted more and more with materialism or at least the necessity of money to survive. To be a person you must have some notes backing you. It’s a sad thing but it’s true. Respect is earned by earning money. There are many places where the old man will give a turn to the rich man first. I’ve always been bothered by materialism. I’ve always asked what the money is for that we are working so hard to get. The answer that I can’t abide is that it’s for making more money. But this is when I was thinking loftily. Now I’m confronted by other things. Small needs. Tomatoes and onions. Bread and milk. Rent. Bills. It just piles up and piles up and there’s no end. These are current expenses and it’s to be expected but I’ve tried this year to every month buy something. Clothes, a sandwich maker things like that that I need around the house. It’s still not ending though. Every month I have to put off one thing. I have this really shitty pan. It’s not non-stick and it’s been battered at the base. I can fry sausages on it just fine and cook too. Every Saturday though I wake up and want eggs for my hangover. I want them sunny side up and so I crack them over the pan. They immediately stick to the bottom and I have to scramble them. Every Saturday without fail I have wished I had a new pan. Every end month without fail this has been relegated to the bottom of the projects. There is always something more urgent that a thing that only affects me on Saturday. I asked my cousin about this, this always buying and she told me that it will never ever end. There will be something else and something else and something else forever. She told me that this should inspire me to work harder but I can’t see how it does. All it tells me is that it’s all futile. I’ll always be buying these things I don’t enjoy buying but have to. Forever. The things I like to buy are books, booze, good food, the company of women (or what do you think paying for a date is), and travel. Everything else is just…. A fucking frying pan.

 

This year I moved to Meru and I loved it. Both the actual move and the range of possibilities it represents. The other day I was going to court in Tigania a place twenty kilometers from Meru. I sat myself in these uncomfortable matatus they have and looked out the window.  Then I saw a field of sunflowers. I’ve never seen a field of sunflowers before and if you haven’t perhaps you should. A field of sunflowers in bloom is beautiful. There is this sea of green and then suddenly bursts of yellow popping up here and there and everywhere. When they are that many and that far off you can imagine why they are called sunflowers. Each of them began to look like a mini-sun, not just taking in but giving off light too. Like if you were to stand in the middle of the field the light would glow off of you and make you look like an angel or a god. This is the perfect gift for the perfect girl a field of sunflowers and I would never have seen that if I wasn’t in Meru.

 

This, being in Meru means that I can also with time be anywhere else. That my life is not stuck to Nairobi or even Kenya. The reminder that it’s possible to pack up all you have and leave behind all you love and still find a field of sunflowers in that place you go to was much needed.

 

The other day I won an appeal where a man had been sentenced to death. This is my single greatest achievement. Because it felt like I had given him back his life. From languishing in the cells for the rest of it he was being let go just that day. I remember thinking that if the six years of legal training that allowed me to be an advocate was for that, for just that, to give this man his life back then it was worth it. This was not on my list of achievements to be done before any age. Nothing really is to be honest this was just a surprise from life. A little bow-wrapped gift that I could carry around in my soul an early happy birthday. This too happened only because I moved to Meru. Only because I studied law. Only because of all the other things that happened in those first 29 years and the things in the man’s life and the judge’s and the court before and a million other things. But it happened and by god it felt great.

 

29. A high school friend on his birthday said that this was the age when we begin to really ask ourselves if we had turned into the men we wanted to be. And I sat and thought about it. I tried to remember high school and to think of the man I wanted to grow into at that age. What did I want him to have? A wife and children? Adventure? Money? Cars? Memories? And I couldn’t remember. I can’t remember what my ambitions for who I would be were back then I simply can’t. I wonder if this is because I honestly didn’t think about it or because I haven’t achieved what I wanted to and so I am retroactively wiping my brain clean. I don’t know. The mind and the heart I have come to realize are muddled. Emotions and motives aren’t clearly delineated and the reasons we do most things are obfuscated even from ourselves. There may be a kind of auto-pilot in us and if we interrogate our reasons and denials closely enough we can almost come to the truth. But for some things the truth is still messy. The truth is I don’t know if I was right to let that go because when I look back on it it seems wonderful or maybe it only seems wonderful because I’m looking back or both or neither. And the truth is not knowing which of those four options it really is.

 

29, have I become or am I on the road to being the man I wanted to be? It’s not an easy question to answer and I don’t know. I don’t know who he was and even if I did I wouldn’t allow the whims and desires of a high school boy to dictate what my life is and how I want to live it. I would patronize him instead and tell him that he hasn’t seen enough of the world to know what he wants. This would be wrong though. The decisions made in purity of circumstance and character are probably the best. There are many beautiful prayers and on Monday I came across one cribbed from the lines of a poem by Jim Shephard expressing a hope that God will raise us to such a height that we may glimpse the men we aspire to be, and his grace, like the heat of the sun, will burn away the men we have become, to everyone out there struggling as we all surely are remember this earth bears you a distance of 150,000,000 kilometres each year. We are all truly special.

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the dread process

I really wish i could have made burger festival in Nairobi. Because burgers are awesome. You get some bread and then you put in the basic: that burger meat. Around this you can build castles and dreams. In the mix is cheese that’s just melting onto the meat so that it soaks through. Then you get another piece of meat and some bacon. More cheeses. More meat. A tomato. Barbeque sauce applied so liberally it’s dripping off your fingers at all times. Chilli sauce, mayonnaise. Then that first bite. You pile in and it slides back. The burger warns you that you are not ready for this shit. You think you are but you are not. So you relax and take another bite. And the burger is so full of promise and so big that you’re sure this will never end. Then it does and you bask in the post-satial glow. Belch. Have a cigarette. Be assured that life really can be this good.

 

There have been all these Mugabe quotes running around the internet. Of course they aren’t quotes by Mugabe but you can imagine Uncle Bob uttering every one of them at a rally. There is a wisdom in them. A truth that only a dictator for life who has seen it all- colonialism, independence, serving as head of government to a head of state that supposedly sodomised people, years of prosperity, the temerity to say that all the white settlers would have to leave his country (and in these Southern African countries the white population was much higher than it had ever been in Kenya. Until 1979 it was Rhodesia for chrissake), the huuuuuuuge inflation, threat of Tvsangirai and still keeps serving as head of state. He won’t see the world the way you and I do.

 

There’s one quote I particularly like “it’s impossible to bewitch African girls nowadays because you cut off their hair for a spell and some poor Brazilian woman goes crazy or a factory in hina catches fire.” As I was having a burger in burger hut with some friends one of them talked about the way people with dreadlocks are warned to be careful because that hair can be cut off and sold. Go into the making of weaves or whatever. This we must say has an awesome bright side. It’s great that we as a race, as a continent, as a country have began to crave hair that we can genetically obtain. The SI unit of beauty is not only long flowing hair but also tightly bound dreadlocks. Hair that grows so black and tight that nothing gets out of it alive. That this theft can become a concern for dreadlocked people is a sign of a racial pride taking root. An acceptance of who we are. Beauty in ourselves and what nature can make for us instead of a constant going out to look for it.

 

I watched the Star Wars movie last year and all through I kept wondering how few black people they hired in make-up or allowed to have a voice concerning what the actors would look like. The stormtrooper was great to see. He had this awesome head of hair when he took off his helmet. A black man’s hair. Compact, neat. Then he had adventure after adventure. He rolled in the mud, he fired lasers, he had a gruelling day and you know what? His hair was still compact, neat. It’s impossible. This hair that we men walk around in wants to be untidy. It wants to grow ridges and bridge off to locks. This is just how it is. There are men who at the end of the day have neat hair. But you have to consider what they have been doing for work. Especially if it’s a full head of hair and not this close to the skin thing that society loves men to do. Black hair cannot be neat at the end of the day for a black man who is involved in a gruelling physically tasking job. And this storm trooper guy had it down and patted the whole adventure through.

 

As I write Madaraka day just passed. It’s been 53 years of internal self-governance and isn’t that awesome? We are just starting to write the story of our nation. Kenya is becoming more and more real. When all this started it was this imaginary line that carted all our states into this one nation. An empire was formed and as long as there was a strong man at the fore there was a semblance of peace. It was a bloody peace though. The kind of peace that is maintained by assassinations and disappearances and torture and fear. The kind of peace that only gives fruits to kin and friends and silences all that would try to be foe. A peace that is slowly waiting to break and break it did over and over. There will always be men who will use the potential for hatred for their own means and for many of the last years there have been men who appealed to our individual state-hood to gain and keep power. The Luo state and the Kikuyu state and the Kamba state and the Luhya state and the Kalenjin state and all the other states and statelings in our country have become and been a very important part of who we are.

 

Things have happened but for a period of history they have happened to us all here together. The national anthem. The death of Pio Gama Pinto and Tom Mboya. The death of Kenyatta abd ascension of Moi. The coup attempt. The death of Ouko. Mulitparty –politics. Interstate wars. The rise of Kibaki and the sweetness of 2002 and the two hand salute of Narc. The horror of the 2007 war. The process of rebuilding and reconciliation. The new constitution. All that happened with the ICC. The death of Jacob Juma. All these things, they happened to a nation. They didn’t happen to any of the states. There is bound to be a pride in where we come from. We are going to care about them more. We are going to think that the other is wrong. But all these horrible things they are all a part of us as Kenyans. Not a part of us as Mijikendas or Boranas. They are all a part of us as Kenyans. Terrorists attack the nation. Elections are held everywhere. Tusker Gold celebrating Injera’s world record tries is sold everywhere.

 

As time passes on there is an identity of Kenyan being shaped by our shared history and told in our shared language. There is a shared culture taking root. These are the things a nation needs to become one. Growing pains suck. They are difficult and living history is writ in blood unfortunately but I have faith in this country. A place where all of us regardless of tribe have chuckled at something Mugabe said. Where we all know what Machozi Monday is and the whereabouts of Afraha Stadium is a place that points towards belonging. It’s a process, every damn thing is a process but on my more hopeful days, on the days when I can see the silver lining behind dreads being stolen I’m pretty sure that Kenya is becoming more and more real.

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death gotta be easy

Death gotta be easy cos life is hard/ it will leave you physically, mentally and emotionally scarred.-50 Cent.

 

I’m on my way back to Meru from Mwea and this trip is taking forever. I’m very hangover so I can sleep but this trip is still taking forever. I’m sitting at that sweet front seat near the driver but even this front seat is uncomfortable. It’s too small. The shins of my feet dig into this bottle holder they have with every lurch and bump. When I try to sleep I have to be careful because the matatu is so small that those bumps and lurches knock me into the roof. And this trip is taking forever.

 

We stop and pick somebody up. We start and stop again. We wait. We wait for ten minutes, maybe twenty and then begin again. There are bumps all the time. There are rumble strips. I’m sitting in front with my hand on the window ledge, the window fully open when the driver for some reason begins to close the window. I am jerked awake and ask him WTF? He’s all like you looked so comfortable sleeping that I didn’t want to wake you up so I could close the window. At that moment I wonder if he thinks I’m stupid. I wonder if he is stupid. I wonder why he is so angry that I’m sleeping. How in the fucking world would that not immediately wake me up?

 

I turn from him and sleep. We stop. The guy next to me comes off. I come off to let someone into that middle seat. I’m not wearing shoes at this point, I’ve taken them off for comfort and as I jump onto the road my socks touch it. Maybe people look at me strangely, I don’t notice. I get back on. We go. We stop. Someone gets off. We wait. Someone gets on. We wait again. We start. There are bumps. We rumble on strips. We stop. We start. I get off to let the person next to me on. I get back on. The night falls. I don’t really see the dying of the light. It comes in snapshots. When we stop. When we start. When the person next to me gets off. And this trip is taking forever.

 

I turn to sleep. And still, and fucking still we are not in Meru. That was when I began to think that maybe I had died. Maybe I had died and I didn’t know it. None of us knows how death feels yet we all imagine it to be monumental. Isn’t it possible to die and not know that you died? Imagine it there you are in a matatu on the way back to Meru from Mwea. Your stomach is churning because you are hungover. The seat you are in is too small. The matatu takes too long to go anywhere. Stopping and starting. Picking and dropping off. Rumbling and bumbling and the driver closes the window with your elbow on the ledge. It’s a shit trip. Then a car comes out of nowhere and hits you. You don’t notice because this happens at one of the points where you are sleeping. Then you die and you…you…you go to hell.

 

Let us say that hell exists for the sake of this story. That there is a place of eternal punishment for those of us whose lives did not please our creator. Would it really be a place of fire and brimstone or would it instead be designed for each of us. A snowflake in which only we are stuck as heaven too must be for it to make any sense. I sat in that matatu and for a moment I thought I had gone to hell. That it was possible that this was all that was going to happen for the rest of eternity. That my trip from Mwea to Meru would feel interminably long because it would be. That my trip would never stop. Forever and ever trying to doze off and trying to beat off the hangover and being pissed at the driver and small slights. Forever waiting to get where I was going. Never, ever getting there.

 

I’ve had this feeling before and maybe this is my personal hell: doing something over and over, almost getting there but not quite. The bar exams felt like this. The 9 days of 9 papers of 3 hours each. Every day the same routine and every day the same monster rearing its head to be slain. There was a point there when I was sure that all I would do for the rest of my life was bar exams. That everything else was just a trick to keep me in hell without me knowing. The moments after. The cigarettes after. All those beautiful girls that I hadn’t seen because they were in the daytime classes. All of this was a trick to keep me in hell and to keep me from knowing I was in hell.

 

This isn’t a unique interpretation. The Greek myths tell us about Sisyphus who was punished by being told to roll a rock uphill and forever see it coming back down. That was his hell, his own personal hell. We don’t know what his motivation for doing it over and over was. We don’t even know if he knew he was being punished. Maybe he thought that he’d roll it one more time and get it to the top. All our hells must be filled with the things we fear most after all.

 

It snowed. It snowed all yesterday and never emptied the sky, although the clouds looked so low and heavy they might drop all at once with a thud. The light is diffuse and hueless, like the light on paper inside a pewter bowl. The snow looks light and the sky dark, but in fact the sky is lighter than the snow. Obviously the thing illuminated cannot be lighter than its illuminator. The classic demonstration of this point involves simply laying a mirror flat on the snow so that it reflects in its surface the sky, and comparing by sight this value to that of the snow. This is all very well, even conclusive, but the illusion persists. The dark is overhead and the light is at my feet: I’m walking upside down in the sky.

 

Yesterday I watched a curious nightfall. The cloud ceiling took on a warm tone, deepened, and departed as if drawn on a leash. I could no longer see the fat snow flying against the sky; I could see it only as it fell before dark objects. Any object at a distance-like the dead, ivy-covered walnut I see from the bay window- looked like a black-and-white frontispiece seen through the sheet of white tissue. It was like dying, this watching the world recede into deeper and deeper blues while the snow piled; silence swelled and extended, distance dissolved, and soon only concentration at the largest shadows let me make out the movement of falling snow , and that too failed. The snow on the yard was as blue as ink, faintly luminous; the sky violet. The bay window betrayed me, and started giving me back the rooms’ lamps. It was like dying, that growing dimmer and deeper and then going out.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek-Anne Dillard.

 

I was trying to wake up one day and I couldn’t quite. The quality of sleep was soft and slippery. My brain was trying to fight its way past this fog that enveloped it but it couldn’t find purchase on it. Every effort at climbing out pushed me back to where I was before. It was soft and comfortable. It was pleasant, the falling. I can remember it as a dark mush. Like some mud somewhere that I fell and slipped in except that it was perfectly fine to slip in that mud. You could tell that it would wipe off. That your clothes weren’t going to get dirty, that if you managed to stand up it would all drip off and you could walk away. This mud, it didn’t hold on tight. It didn’t cajole as much as convince, it didn’t smother as much as say. There was a whisper to it and to follow it down wouldn’t be so hard. I didn’t want to but with this black mud I didn’t have to want to. Whether or not I fought it would win eventually. It would close me in even as I fought my way out of it. Even the fighting was not tiring as much as futile. The sludge was waiting to take me in and I fought through many levels of consciousness. At every stage some of the slime slid off. It was that smooth and yet there was more. The fight was just as smooth. It felt like dying. The slipping into the darkness and the ease with which this was achieved. The fatigue and tiredness. The increasing certainty that the other way was so easy. It felt like dying.

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