By Dana Gornall
There is a middle space that I often find myself in.
I have written about it before—sometimes, I have found comfort there. The good thing is that the lows aren’t very low in this space, yet the highs aren’t very high either. At times I wonder why I feel I don’t want to be in this place of flatness.
Somewhere along the path I have laid, I stopped myself. The road seemed so clear at one point. I had carefully landmarked spots that I needed to reach and one by one I ticked them off the list. This was what it meant to succeed, right? Mark your goals, work toward them, achieve them and move on.
Except partially through, it felt all wrong. The whole road felt like it was winding in an opposite direction and I could no longer keep going.
So I am here, still in this place of flatlands—unsure and unsteady. Where to go from here?
I suppose I could sit and wait. I suppose this too is a place of learning—respite and reflection. We all need that, do we not? But while floating in this space of misdirection—waiting, pausing, in the non-ups and the non-downs, the droning sound of white noise filling my ears, I bristle and crack in the gap.
I’m weary of this unending plane—no road, no path, no open door to turn toward.
I search for connection. I stand outside and stare up at the stars looking for that spark that lights in my belly. I smile and chat with the people surrounding me. I joke and I laugh and I love, hoping that something will jolt me into a direction of darkness or light—anything other than emptiness.
I find an open area in the grass, letting my feet feel the softness, and warm my face in the sun. Closing my eyes, letting the sun cast an orange glow beneath the lids of my eyes, I quietly ask to be seen. Because when you are in that state of flatness of being, you often seem as though your presence is translucent, like that space right above the road on a hot summer day that bends the air and light in such a way that one can almost make out waves, shimmering above the paved asphalt.
The longer I sit, the longer I wait, the longer I allow myself to rest in this pause, the harder it is to keep going. The easier it becomes to pull on this layer of flatness of being and just let it be.
This is the word for what it means to live with no lows or no highs. This is the word for a numbness that sinks into your skin deeper and deeper until your teeth tremble from things unfamiliar and your heart pounds from exertion of getting up out of bed and facing the day.
The problem with flatness of being is that neither road looks good or bad to you. Nothing is appealing yet nothing is off-putting either. Happiness is a distant star that finds it way among the many others, circling the void and as reachable as the moon. Sadness is scrambling out of your grasp and slipping away like sand through your fingertips.
And all around you is unending space and endless horizon of empty landscape.
So I bristle and break, cracking in the gap. I breathe and I sigh and I crumble and soar. I fight a little today to break away from the unbearable flatness of being,
“One cannot long remain so absorbed in contemplation of emptiness without being increasingly attracted to it. In vain, one bestows on it the name of infinity; this does not change its nature.”
~ Emily Durkheim
Editor: Ty H Phillips
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