Have you ever spent a week cooped up in your house? Basked in solitude cut off from all culture and civilization, only to suddenly walk out the door on the eighth day. It feels weird, doesn’t it? Like walking underwater. Everything’s too loud or blurry. Too slow, too fast, too something. There’s either too much movement or not enough, and you can’t decide where to look, what to hear first.
It takes a few hours to get your bearings, a couple days before simple things like geography and direction start making any remote possible sense.
Now, imagine this house to be a mental place, the culture a progressive virtual reality and the week of solitude a lifetime of hermit-ness.
That last sentence you just read? Yep, that’s me. Or was me, before I decided to exponentially expand on my virtual footprint, which is why it feels like I’m walking on Mars right now. Well, Jupiter actually, seeing as I’m surrounded by a large hydrogen cloud and can’t look before leaping. What if I’m really bad at leaping? But, oh God, what if I’m any good? I like my clumsiness. And my anonymous solitude. [It’s shaped like a coconut, warm on the inside and filled with books, chocolate and chai.]
In case you’re wondering, no, I’m not having a breakdown. Just a small minor anxiety attack. You see, in three days time, I’ve gone from never updating a Facebook status to having a page, an Insta account and a blog.
I’m a part of the virtual world now. I know I just said it, but it bears repeating. I’m. A part. Of the. Virtual. World.
It feels like I’ve run a marathon. While fasting. Sure, there’s a joy in it. [Not the marathon, because, please. I only run to the bakery.] The exhilaration that comes with adrenaline. A sparrow preparing to fly off the nest, a hummingbird hovering on the edge of a rose, a man on the edge of the cliff, about to leap into the sea. A rush of breath, excitement, anticipation. A brief gush of wind in your ears – time paused, world static. A heartbeat of space between want and action, choice and movement, like Michelangelo’s David’s contrapposto. [Not that my struggles are anything so poetic as that marble made hunk.]
That movement is gone now. I’ve taken the leap, aimed the rock towards many invisible Goliath’s and let it fly. Sink or swim, win or loose, there are rewards a plenty in this hovering, buoyant quagmire. My scribbles are finally going to see the light of the day. The only way to improve writing is to keep writing and get feedback, and one can’t both want to be a writer and keep hiding in the library with cupcakes. Still, the internet and social networks are a scary place for this residual hermit.
It’s easy, remarkably so, to be comfortable in your own skin when no one’s seen much of it. And I’ve taken the first step towards finding out just how thick my hide is…