I stepped onto the ledge and jumped. The bungee cord held me by the waist with my life in its hands. Accelerating down at some 32 ft/s^2 toward the murky water, I thought about life.
I got ‘graphomania’, as Kundera calls it, early in life. I wanted just what he says, an audience of unknown readers. Well, not entirely. I wanted my parents. But since I couldn’t have them, the next best thing was anonymous fame. After that failure at home I just wanted to be known. By my friends, by my girlfriends. I kept many sides to myself. I justify it to myself as a survival tactic. I showed that side of me – rather, I cultivated that in me – I thought others wanted to see. Maybe I lost “myself” somewhere in the process. I lost a spine and became invertebrate.
“You don’t listen to me.”
“I can’t listen to you anymore after you repeat the same thing a thousand times. I’m not a machine; I have my limits of tolerance. If you would just consider your reasoning before you become emotional, we could avoid so much drama.”
“How I feel is how I feel, why can’t you just acknowledge it?”
“Because your feelings are unreasonable! If you would listen to yourself and see how you function, you’d see that your expectations are far too high and your grasp on reality next to none, so that you’re bound to end up getting hurt.”
How cool would it be to hit the water and land on a crocodile’s back? He’d probably end up devouring me, but still, how many people can claim they’ve fallen onto a crocodile? It’s a pretty pathetic claim to fame. I’d wrap my arms around him as tightly as I could, like a seat belt holds me to the car seat. He’d probably thrash around, turn over many times until I let go. I don’t know how sharp those thorn-like bumps on his skin are. Is it even skin? I’d struggle to breathe and be forced to let go. That’s when he’d come after me.
What’s she doing right now? Is she in the shower? Eating breakfast? 3000 miles across America. It’s a vast expanse, but it’s made larger in my mind, because also in my mind she’s right next to me. I can feel her next to me right now, falling with me, I can feel her skin. When I’m with her, near her body, there are still inches and millimeters between us. When we touch, there are molecules of space, as empty as the uncharted universe. Molecules to millimeters to miles – it’s just a matter of magnitude, the form remains the same. When I pull a hair from her arm she flinches. I feel a breeze rushing through my shorts, through my underwear, under my shirt and dragging itself up my face, dissipating through my hair. I’m not flinching, I’m brave. When she bears unbearable cramps once a month, she cries out in pain; she’s not brave. When I approached her for the first time with a proposition, I was brave. When I lift my mother’s image and project it on her, then she’s brave. Her muscles may be weak but her will is iron. I’m rushing toward dirty green water, I’m brave.
What does impact feel like? A train against a train, car against car. I’ve never been in a crash. I’ve hardly lived. I’m not ungrateful, simply curious. Some curiosities you regret after you satisfy them, but these same curiosities often haunt you, despite – or perhaps because of – their fatalistic nature, until they’re satisfied. I think I know everything, and the more I live the more I learn how little I know. But it’s not a bad thing, it doesn’t diminish the ego; it’s too persistent for that. As I learn more about the bounds of the ego, the larger the ego grows from learning more about itself. Every inch of me feels exhilaration and inside I’m killing brain cells, waxing philosophy.
Let’s see them design a lens that zooms as fast as these eyes right now. That spot directly below, which occupied only 10% of my vision a few seconds ago, is now all I can see save for some incomprehensible peripheral imagery. There are no crocodiles in the water. It wouldn’t be fun thinking about them if there were. I’ll close my eyes and picture a hippopotamus. I can see his teeth, I can see him running toward me after I crash into the water. I can feel the force from his body long before he reaches me, hear his grunting, louder than the splashing of the water he’s violently displacing. He’s coming, I’m dead. This is life; now I’ve lived. If I had a rifle I’d throw it down his throat and fire. His skin’s so thick probably nothing would happen. He’ll sink to the floor of the lake. I’ll be so agitated I’ll kick his rubbery skin and scream louder than apocalypse, but nothing will happen. Reverberations from the agitation of his skin will transfer upon contact and ring through my body. I’ll scream even louder seeing my efforts are in vain, and then I’ll explode from within, my innards briefly coloring the water before it goes green again. My dead hippo and I will lie peacefully at the bottom until the crocodiles come and make him as colorful and beautiful as I am.
I’m flying, through air. What if I could fly through water? Through ice? Could I dive into a volcano and swim in its lava? What if it’s not as hot as they say it is? Maybe it’ll feel cool against my skin. I can fly. The laws that inhibit others clearly don’t apply to me. I can see the slowly crawling lava monster that’s coming to devour my house. I’m so mesmerized with it that I’ve forgotten about what I’m about to lose to fire. I’m stepping back from the jelly as it lazily comes after me. It’s so much fun to gather sticks and stones and watch them vanish almost instantly as I throw them into the expanding pool in front of me. What’s holding me back from touching it? I want to spread it on bread and eat it. Take it in my fingers and watch it slip through like sand. I just want to reach in and take it like a pot of gold. I want to smear you, O lava, all over my body; I want to bathe in you. I want to make you my bed. It kills me to know that would be my deathbed.
I’m drowning in a bottomless pond in the rainforest. As soon as I realize what’s going on and where I am, I reach for a vine. Their abundant network was irritating me as I walked through the forest. They kept appearing out of nowhere and slapping my face and even trying to tear the shirt off my back. What was just a hindrance is now my only savior. It’s too late though. There’s molecules or miles (I can’t tell which) of space between my closest fingertip and the flexibly unbreakable fiber. I try to jump but there’s nothing to kick off of. Everything looks so heavenly from below, the forest…I can still feel the morning mist on my face; the moisture laden air makes breathing a little difficult.