I’ve never been much good at sleeping. From the hours of 8:00 am to about 8:00 pm, I’ve got weights tied to my limbs and head, I’m dragging and exhausted. But once the sun goes away and it’s dark and cool outside, my brain is filled words and ideas and melodies and it overflows until I have to lay in my bed writing all over my hands and arms to get everything out, and to make sure that I won’t forget when the sun rises. By about midnight, I itch to play my guitar so badly that it feels as though my insides are on the verge of tearing open and exploding, but facing the wrath of my family, recently awakened by a late-night jam session, would probably be worse than self implosion. Since I can’t make my own music at this time, I do the next best thing: listen to other people’s music.
When I’m like an accumulation of hyperactive, excited gaseous particles, I need a steady beat to crawl into my ears and liquify me. I need to bathe in vibrations, and come out fresh and clean and enlightened.
I’ve told my parents several times that if I were ever in an accident and fell into a comatose state, that if they would just give me a pair of head phones and put on one of my favorite playlists, I would be okay. While I have yet to suffer a serious head injury to knock me into semi-consciousness, lying alone in the dark, submerged in sound and vibrations is just as surreal as stepping into another mindscape — rules, standards, expectations all dissolve away, thoughts are untainted by social norms, and perception is pure, as if you were just born into the world and had the ability to decide, name, and create everything for yourself. That’s where all of the inky words on my arms come from, the ones that stain my bedsheets black and blue with abstract thoughts and ideas.
Living in the waking world is like being shoved into a little glass box, where there are eyes peering down at you from all sides, waiting for you to entertain them. They want you to fit into a cookie-cutter shape that falls into place with everyone else like a puzzle piece.
But when the lights go out, so does reality and I can hide under the sheets, away from any wandering eyes and their expectations and I can slip away. I can escape from my box and dive deep into the soundwaves, where the overlapping bass, drums, guitar, piano, voices, noises are all different shades of blue, mingling and becoming deeper as I sink further and further in. This place I’m in, what I hear and feel, it’s all I need to know what is real, to know what matters and to know that I matter and that everything matters and that we are all connected somehow, from the burning stars in the sky to the little spider crawling across my wall in the dark.
This is how I know what I want to do with my life: I want to punch holes in the walls of a soundproof world. They can try to keep the screams in, but there’s no such thing as noise-canceling band aids for punctured social norms. The entire universe is in my head, because I perceive it, I listen to it, I feel it, I see it, and it can be whatever I want it to be. Maybe it’s time to get it all out, the way I see it.
If only I were as brave as I am when I’m lying in bed, head phones in, drifting away into whatever place I go to when I get to be me.