Persevering seems to be what I do best, and I don’t always know how I manage. The question, “What am I still doing here?” crosses my mind a lot, and it’s not because I’m pondering some existential reason for existence. Rather, I know exactly what I’m doing here; it’s the exhaustion that makes me wonder why I haven’t finished my tasks yet. Life is the job, and the other side is home, the exact reverse that I think a lot of us know subconsciously but don’t want to admit to. Admitting we live in an illusion can be frightening to some, hence the creation of time. Time is a perfect organizational tool that helps keep humans aligned, keeps us from going crazy. We like time. What we don’t like is pain and unnecessary suffering. I muddle my way through February, often asking, “What am I still doing here?” but it’s the exhaustion, it’s the pain both physical and mental.
January twenty-sixth was my first trigeminal neuralgia pain attack this year, and the pain encourages the fear that has me cautiously traversing each moment, because at any second I could be attacked by the TN beast that stalks me. It reminds me of a passage my brother particularly enjoyed when he was alive—Gestaþáttr, Hávamál, part of a poem found in the Codex Regius, Old Norse poems:
All the entrances, before you walk forward,
you should look at,
you should spy out;
for you can’t know for certain where enemies are sitting,
ahead in the hall
Trigeminal neuralgia is like this because you truly don’t know if it’s behind the next corner, or if it’ll wait until tomorrow to attack, or maybe the next day. Since the attack that occurred on January twenty-sixth while I was driving along Route 70 on my way home from Sarasota, I’ve been staying up later because I’m afraid to go to sleep. Going to sleep means waking up, and waking up is when the beast usually attacks. It waits by my bedside, waits for my soul to be drawn back from the In Between where I spend my time with departed loved ones, waits ’til I’m back on the earthly plane . . . and then?
I think of this as I work through my brother’s book, Self-Defense and the Sphere of Influence, which will be published by Lady June Press. Miles experienced his own kind of hell, and we both had more in common than we’d ever realized. While he committed suicide, I suffer with a disorder nicknamed “the suicide disease,” and while I’d like to think that people don’t kill themselves anymore from trigeminal neuralgia, and I’d like to think that modern medicine has helped us to a degree, I can’t help but acknowledge how painful this disorder is, how it makes one question one’s entire existence. You can talk all you want about working through it, and being strong, but when it comes right down to it, knowing you’re going to experience this excruciating pain can be almost too much to bear.
Perseverance has always been a trait I admire. I am attracted to those who are motivated, self-assured, and perseverant, those who dedicate themselves to their work and continue to reach for higher meaning. “Persevere,” I always say, especially to writers who want to give up. “Persevere, because you never know what could happen if you didn’t try. What if? What if?” What is this strange human condition, this odd earthly existence, in which we would willingly continue to endure hell simply to see what life has in store during the next day, and the next? How odd . . . our drive to simply exist.