“Go and play. Run around. Build something. Break something. Climb a tree. Get dirty. Get in some trouble. Have some fun.”
― Brom – The Child Thief
It’s true – we are so busy preparing for that perfect life that we sometimes forget to live the one we’ve got in the meantime. Try going a day without saying “I think” and “I want”. (Did your brain just say I want to do it but I think I can’t?)
Do something now that you love to do, and enjoy the hell out of it.
Prompts for the Promptless: Qualia (single form, quale) is a term that refers to the individual, conscious, subjective elements of experiences. Examples of qualia are the pain of a headache, the taste of wine, or the perceived redness of an evening sky. In other words, qualia refers to “the way things seem to us”.
I’ve been procrastinating and avoiding this subject because I like to think I’m perfectly normal. Who isn’t reluctant to admit the possibility of some sort of inner weirdness. But I suppose if I never admit it, I’ll never know if there are other people out there who experience the same thing. I have made vague references to it in conversations, or given out random hints, but the reaction is always confusion and skepticism, and then we just talk about the weather.
I’ve already admitted elsewhere that I think of spider webs when I spritz my perfume. My honey yogurt soap to me smells exactly like the beach, although when I’m at the beach I never think of that particular soap. Large bodies of water make me want to stop breathing. I have to remind myself to inhale and exhale and stay calm and think about something else. My moods are associated with colors. When I’m happy I’m yellow. Green is super charged. Pink is perfectly lazy.
All of that is curious enough I suppose, but there’s something else I’ve felt several times in my life. I will tell you about one of my quale experiences, and then you can look all confused and skeptical and go check out the weather channel.
At some kind of Christmas party or dance (I don’t remember exactly what it was) many years ago, W and I were saying goodnight to my brother-in-law and his wife when I was suddenly hit by a thunder-clap of doom. There was no noise, but it was deafening. I was knocked off my feet, but I didn’t fall over. The feeling was black and overpowering, like a severe electric shock with no physical pain. It lasted only seconds and then it was gone. I hugged my brother-in-law a little too hard, and held on to him a little too long, knowing that something really bad was going to happen to him, although I couldn’t have said what that might be. I remember telling him I’d see him again because those felt like magic words to ward off some terrible disaster. He laughed and said of course we’d see each other again, we were all going to be at his parents house the next day.
I felt like crying, and sat in stunned silence on the drive home, thinking they might be involved in a car crash, or their house would burn to the ground, or they’d be abducted by aliens. I also thought that quite possibly I’d had way too much to drink and was being completely ridiculous. But I did tell W about my bad feeling, almost like a premonition, that something awful was going to happen to his brother. Then I reminded him of that a few months later when his brothers headaches had become unbearable, and he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Now here’s the strangest part, if that’s not strange enough for you. When we got the phone call with this sad news, I felt almost euphoric. That was the bad thing that was going to happen, but it wasn’t that bad after all. The surgery would go well, and he would be fine. I knew this. I kept saying, amidst all the worry and the sadness, he’s going to be okay. And he was, for a lot of years after that.
This was not the first or last time for me, having this bizarre experience, but I don’t think it can be called an ability when I really have no control over it. The feelings are always extreme. I don’t know where the crazy joy or the devastating sadness comes from, but when it happens I think those few seconds will kill me, but I don’t die. Or haven’t yet anyway. It has made me try to put up a sort of invisible shield around myself when I’m with people so that if they are sending out bad vibes I won’t get them. It has made me stay away from places I should have been where I might have given comfort because to me, ignorance of the bad things is equivalent to bliss. It has made me try hard not to feel anything too deeply, or get too involved, or be too empathetic. But inevitably this avoidance seems to build up to my quale, my personal internal sonic boom, the explosion that shatters me and no one sees me break.
This was all so hard to admit, because, like I said, I prefer to have people think I’m normal with normal quirks and eccentricities, with qualia that might be considered a little out to lunch but not psychotic or insane. I don’t tell anyone any more when I have the gloom and doom experience because I don’t understand where it comes from or what it might portend. It could be nothing. I always hope it’s nothing.
So what’s the weather like where you are? May your whole day be nothing but shades of pink and yellow.
Daily Prompt: Create a short story, piece of memoir, or epic poem that is 26 sentences long, in which the first sentence begins with “A” and each sentence thereafter begins with the next letter of the alphabet.
Alice, are you aware of the time?
Back off Buster, you are such a bloody butthead.
Could you please refrain from calling me names?
Dumb ass dork.
Enough, just get your own stupid ass in gear, we are going to be so freaking late.
Good God, you would aggravate a saint.
HA – well good thing there’s none of those around here to be aggravated.
Is that really what you’re wearing?
Just trying it on to see.
Know what would work better?
Let’s hear it, Einstein.
Making up your mind now so we at least have a faint chance in hell of getting there before the whole thing is over.
No shit, you nerd brained numb nuts.
Oh, for the love of all that’s holy, that one looks perfectly fine, let’s get out of here.
Piss off and get out of my way.
Quit being so damned querulous.
Really – such a big word – do I have time to look that up?
Shut up and put on your shoes.
This outfit makes my ass look huge.
Uh, no, not going there.
Very good choice.
What the hell, seriously, you’re going to wear that… that….?
X-rated floozy dress?
Yes, holy crap, Alice, it took you this long to end up looking like a 1920’s flapper?
Zip it Mr. Punctuality – I’m all set and you’re wasting time – let’s get this show on the road!
1. Visit the dentist for a check up the next time before something goes wrong. It’s his turn to be shocked.
2. Learn how to hold that stupid suction thing properly while the hygienist tries to drown you with her power washer. Or whatever it’s called.
3. Floss. Rinse. Repeat.
4. Be proud of yourself because now you are finally brave enough to forego being laughing-gassed practically into a state of unconsciousness for everything, including the initial consultation.
5. Be thankful every day for the rest of your life that Steve Martin is not your dentist.
Tomorrow, at the ungodly hour of seven-thirty I make my third and final trip to Smiles Dental House of Horrors (not its real name) to get two chipped teeth repaired (not caused by chewing on branches or twigs) and then I have to suffer through the obligatory cleaning where the pissed off dental hygienist tries to scrape off every speck of enamel I have left while muttering about my gums bleeding on her instruments. All hygienists are pissed off, it’s in their job description. Plaque makes them downright belligerent. They really should try to be thankful for it, because – come on – without it, they would be unemployed.
All my life I’ve been a dentist avoider. I prefer to wait until the situation gets serious before wasting their time on something as boring as mere maintenance. I went for two days once with a toothache because I was afraid of the pain the dentist might cause with his drills. So I guess you would call that suffering pain to avoid suffering pain. Not the proudest or brightest page in my life story.
My dental phobia is a lot milder than it used to be, thanks to a great dentist who has a lot of patience with wimps. All it takes is a couple of traumatic experiences as a child to instill a lifelong fear – and then a hundred million non traumatic visits to get over it. I just have to keep telling myself that it’s an hour or two – that’s all – and then it’s over. And I can come home and play candy crush for the rest of the day. There’s still that little kid in me who likes to be rewarded for being brave.