the roadmap of thoughts branch out in crooked forks. dirt paths are compacted from frequent use over centuries. all streams lead to a no-speed-limit roundabout from hell spinning madly, laughing and flinging cars in all directions.
plotting out which routes get us to the fastest conclusion. which stream of thought has the most left turns. which route has the bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic line of ideas accessible to all, slowly, thoroughly. there, on the side, the reason for our hold up. there is a car engulfed in flames on the shoulder of the highway. you check and yes, the driver door is flung open.
neat, organized breath means neat, organized thought. a choke of traffic resolves itself and cars flow out freely again. inhale-one-two-three-four: time to be brave. out-two-three-four: time to be logical. remember all the things you learned in driver’s ed and don’t hit any pedestrians.
how a deep sigh can be a wish tucked very almost silenty under the breath, as not to acknowledge that the fear isn’t there at all – except the shaking hands begin their same rituals and expose it all – (“maybe if i tap my fingers together this way four thousand consecutive times i can protect my loved ones”) – my prayer is to continue the breath, the thoughts, the living. my breath gives those words their wings from my brain to my mouth and out and up to heaven to present my silly little requests for consideration. maybe the sheer quantity of times i pray will earn me an extra lottery draw.
i pray in quiet because i will not admit this weakness to myself, i will continue to ignore what i need in favour of what i think others think i should be needing, jesus h. CHRIST i exclaim multiple times a day. i know there is someone kind waiting for me on the other side of this life but even still i must perform for them, never quite sure if the silent audience is pleased or disappointed.
some days i am sure i am waking up on my deathbed, doomed to succumb to the parasite of anxiety. perhaps everything bad in life is my fault for not being better. looking down i see i am already getting dressed and cooking and going out and socializing and contributing to society. i am not enjoying these moments, but i am proud of my body for taking care of itself when i cannot do it; i am proud of myself like i am teaching little me how to ride a bike and it finally clicks, and i’m watching myself soaring down the street. (but what if little me loses control and crashes and rolls down the hill and flies into traffic and gets crushed by a ten car pile-up that explodes and catches on fire and chemicals burn into the air and infects everyone in a ten mile radius with lung cancer for generations to come? wouldn’t that hurt so bad?)
oh god, oh fuck, i can’t breathe, everything is going to crash around me, brace for cover, i’m sorry for my sins, please spare my loved ones from this eternal suffering i’ve earned,
“more?” she asks, craning her head out the car window. i am laying flat on the driveway by her front wheels.
“keep going,” i call back.
cautiously, she eases her foot off the brake and the car rolls forward down the driveway, the front wheel eating up the side of my sweater and mounting the side of my ribcage. the weight of the car crushes each bone down, flat and neatly compact, with the sound of snapping popsicle sticks. she stuck her head out the window again, nervous. “more?”
i wheeze with my untouched lung, “more!”
over my sternum and the other half of my ribcage, the car tire ironed me out flat. no room for breath, no room for thoughts. the anxiety was now physically and permanently removed from my body by virtue of having nowhere to put it. with my last original breath i celebrate – “no breath, no thoughts!”
i win! i fucking win! now i’m forced to deep belly breathing exclusively, the antidote to all anxiety. old dirty air squeezed out of my belly button with a tea kettle whistle, only drawing in fresh clean air and fresh clean thoughts by inflating the balloon of my stomach, pinned down by the present.
@meatballerino on insta
i am the fucking meatball