Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce – author, poet, painter


Day 24

I woke up at six this morning, my mind overflowing with words. Standing outside the office just now, before stepping into its new warmth, those words started coming faster and faster, and I didn’t know what to do with them. Some of them fell to the ground and shattered, some stayed in me, rushing around in ever-widening circles, spinning around so quickly I could see the whirlwind of letters in front of my eyes, and, in my impatience, to get them down, I stumbled across the threshold into this space, and forgot the order in which I turn everything on in here – normally it should go: big light, desk light, change date on endless calendar, activate screen, activate mouse, log in, choose piece of music, write. This morning the order was chaotic, and created a unique and new sequence I have already forgotten.

Sometimes I seem too big for spaces, or spaces too small for me. My elbows knock into things, my legs and knees struggle for room and won’t fit into places they’ve fitted into before, and I have to contort myself into uncomfortable shapes to fit. I’m not actually tall for a man (some might say I’m quite short; when M and I ballroom danced before covid put a stop to it, I was the one who would put my head on her shoulder when we danced the Argentine tango rather than than it being her who put her head on my shoulder in that most close and sensuous of dances; speaking of dances, the waltz, which was the first dance we ever learned, is actually a lot more sensual than people think, pelvis to pelvis, so sensual that, at one time, it was banned), nor am I fat (although my constantly present body dysmorphia tells me I am), so I am often confused about this lack of space in spaces. I often think that perhaps this is because I have some undefinable presence, though my mind laughs off the idea as arrogant and wishful thinking, but this morning, with that word hurricane around me, I thought there might be some truth in it.

What was going through my mind when I woke was the matter of memory. If we could, would we journal and document each second of our lives, each small action, each thought, each minute neatly laid out in our notebooks, action and reaction noted, so we could recall every second of our lives when the final reckoning comes? Of course, if we did, all we’d be recording would be the recording of our recording, and we’d do nothing of substance, and, in those final moments, read only about a life of nothing. I have often wondered (and maybe this is a philosophical concept I have never read about because I am poorly read) if this thing I experience as real life is actually a memory, that I am somewhere in the future reliving what I lived many years ago, that this memory I am right now perceiving as real life is an indication that my mind and soul and perhaps body are immortal because they have total recall, recall so perfect that it is physical (I can feel my fingers touching the keyboard, can smell the lemon candle I was burning in here yesterday afternoon, can hear every note of White Lake by Deaf Center that’s on repeat on my machine, can feel the coolness of the desk under the parts of my hands that touch it while I’m typing).

But then I think about what seems like the increasing number of failures of my short-term memory and worry about why I forget so many things (it took me at least ten seconds to remember the song I was hearing on Norwegian radio in the kitchen before I stepped out into the garden was by Olivia Rodriguez; there was a question in the Trivial Pursuit game M, A, and I were playing yesterday afternoon that should have come to me instantly but even now I can’t recall the answer nor the question). A tells me it’s because my mind is so full it’s constantly overflowing and discarding things it doesn’t deem important. She may have a point, but the perfectionist in me (actually that’s entirely me) expects total recall of every small thing. Tonight, the three of us will as always watch Only Connect and University Challenge together, and I’ll probably be the one cursing loudest when it turns out I don’t know the majority of the answers (and my answer of “Fermat” to all Maths questions will no doubt cause hilarity as always, but that’s only because I don’t care for Maths much). Maybe I’ll settle for A’s reasoning after all.

I think my mind has calmed a little now. Whether that’s due to the music or to relieving the pressure on my mind by venting these few little scribbles I don’t know.

I read what I thought was a fairly incoherent article first thing which talked about the contrast between hedonism and lives of suffering, and how perhaps it was suffering and pain that made lives meaningful, whilst at the same time saying hedonism could be pain and suffering – that’s why I thought the article was incoherent, setting up two sides of the same coin but making them identical. There’s really only one side of this coin of life. Only the ignorant or deluded can wander through life thinking there’s meaning without suffering, until they reach that final reckoning and realise they’ve not kept any notes on their lives at all.

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