IllAtEase

IllAtEase
The Raising of Lazarus after Rembrandt by Vincent van Gogh (1890).

" … having apparently traded in my innate senses for a double handful of IllAtEase."

This pandemic provides uneasy respite. The Muse suggests that we're better off if we just assume that we're infected and throwing off virus like one of those hose-tracking garden sprinklers. I imagine that everyone I encounter's doing likewise and that I'm not successfully dodging their bullets, so I slather sanitizer before and after every excursion. An ancient adage insisted that a dream come true amounts to the most insidious punishment, and the now interminable pandemic seems the perfect foil for any former aspiration to spend more leisure time with family. Time moves most slowly when held under this kind of lock and key, where nothing physically inhibits me, but where a certain moral sense suspends me in place. I do the right thing without the expected consequent feeling very good about my choice. Nobody notices my generous absences and nobody rejoices over my tacit contributions. The Muse wonders where I've gone and I respond by asking where in this constraining space I might feel safe to manifest. I feel distinctly IllAtEase.

Sleep produces no rest, but seems to encourage an ever-deepening restlessness—a Lazarus death.
I wake neither refreshed nor exhausted, more absent than present, fuzzy-headed and indecisive. Each day spreads out before me as another impending exercise in futility, for I am free to do whatever I want just as long as I remain within these constraints. I imagine only forbidden activities. I ache for a lousy diner breakfast and an idling hour writing in the corner of a coffeeshop, wincing at the deafening noise of the steaming espresso machine foaming up lattes. I pine after my semi-solitary section in the library and my imagination seems capable of only leading me astray. I possess no shortage of potentially meaningful work, all rendered meaningless within this soul-stifling context. The Muse complains of her working conditions while sequestering before a wall-sized theater display, talking to a wall all day. I try to stay out from under foot, my desk abandoned for being within too clear earshot of her endless theater. Overheard business conversations embody nothing more inspiring than utter banality. Someone else apparently announced their retirement yesterday.

I've taken to listening to audio books now that my access to fresh print editions seems permanently suspended. Unlike reading, listening allows me to engage in parallel activities of daily living, albeit with a zombie's glazed presence. I pull the headset should the neighbor greet me, and I repeat my audiobook mantra, "Huh?" I need the distraction, for my usual recreations provide little satisfaction. I kneel before a fresh weed bed and dread myself into engagement now. Because I'm simultaneously here and there, I'm neither here nor there. I wonder where I've gone, too. A pseudo schedule emerges where the kittens remind me of my next move. They know better our position in space and time when their usual suppertime draws near. I'm clearly not driving right now and hardly along for any ride. I once again decide to just stay inside for the day. I can just as well trim the lawn another day. Nothing seems necessary now except sacred separation, isolation, and dread.

My bed seems more punishment than reward. My pillows conspire against me. I close my eyes to visualize my next move and feel no tug, no pull encouraging me into engagement. I sense time neither fleeting nor suspended, but disorientingly upended, a sudden stranger to me. I noticed yesterday that my watch's calendar had been a day behind since May Day after having ascribed thirty-one days to April again, a perfect plague watch trick. It hardly mattered that it was the nineteenth rather than the eighteenth, like it mattered not even a tiny bit that I'd been a day behind for nearly three quarters of the month. What is a month now, anyway? What is a day when IllAtEase?

I imagine that one day I might once again experience a genuine zest for something. I suspect that I might require remedial training to warmly anticipate again, to ease into anything rather than IllAtEasing my way around. A wind gust sucked the screen off the bedroom picture window, tossing it frame and all into the close-in backyard. Small "plunger locks" were supposed to hold that screen in place, but plunger locks seem alien technology to me. I searched for a week to find some cogent description of them and their proper use. The Muse found a video library dedicated to them in minutes, though none of the offerings explained what I needed to know, theory and practice apparently another one of those things that most people just already know, by osmosis, I suppose. The mystery persists. I could swear that I once had a better hang of almost all of this, but I seem to have lost that innate sense of who and where and what I am, having apparently traded in my innate senses for a double handful of IllAtEase.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved








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