On re-finding my words (The Recovery Series)

(I’ve been fighting with the pain for a few days so haven’t been able to put anything up for the week. It’s better now, so I have a few more things to say.)

I’m lying in my bed. It’s been a while, but I don’t remember pain like this. Even the brilliant drugs that they give you in the hospital doesn’t work. So what best to do with pain but to write. This is my recovery series. It mightn’t make much sense. I blame the pain

There are some things that I enjoy that most of the people around me do not find in the least bit interesting. This often means that most people in my profession find me incredibly boring, or probably think that I’m up my own arse most of the time. I have very little interest in fashion, celebrity, and for the most part know not very much about theatre. Theatre is one of those beautiful things that just happens to me; it’s tidal, usually swooping in and enveloping me, casting me about in its currents, sometimes dashing me upon rocks, finally spitting me out on a distant unknown shore or washing me up on the same old familiar sands. I don’t feel the need to understand theatre, or to engage with it in anything other than this ethereal and unstable dance. We are lovers, eternally so, without the need for obsession. And we are private, so other people’s relationship with theatre has no bearing on us. I can’t name names, don’t know what songs come from where, don’t know what’s coming in or what’s going out, never know what’s going on. I am always an outsider at parties and opening nights. But, you cannot make important that which is already a part of you. It is like trying to make your leg important, or your heart, or your breast. It’s already there, you don’t think about it. You don’t have to study your leg, or go on about it. You don’t have to become an expert in other people’s legs. They have them, that’s ‘good-enough’ knowledge. It would be an inexplicable loss if my leg were to be removed. The same with theatre. It’s like my leg. I need it, but I don’t have to talk about it all the time.

But I also have another leg.

So, I’m a big, BIG, fan of psychology and philosophy and all things mind, subjective and objective. And I’m also a great big fan of reading textbooks and writing essays and doing research, which is mostly incongruent with the interests of my peers. So I keep my psychological musings and excitement  of learning for long, drawn-out, wine-fuelled talks over the dinner table with my loving, patient knight. And he’s always up for a good debate, if only because, but for being incredibly agreeable in every other sense, he’s intellectually argumentative.

But one of the things that I have found that is a side effect of pain and medication is that words go awry. On the page, they swim and do a merry ceilidh, coming in and going out, linked together and then far apart. My eyes have to chase them, body tackle them to the white space, pin them down wrestler-stylee, by which time meaning has become fed-up and flounced off in a huff. Getting to the end of a sentence takes an age. And the spoken word has taken its fair share of the Tramadol effect. My spoonerism rate has skyrocketed and sometimes I trail off because I’ve forgotten where I put my hat. I haven’t been speaking on the phone, because for the most part, I don’t make sense, or I forget to make sense.

We spend so much time looking for meaning and purpose, in our lives, our actions, our thoughts. But I spare a thought today for how important words are in the construction of that meaning. The stories we tell, to ourselves, of ourselves to others, all rely on a common understanding of the way in which we put words together. Our knowledge, our identity, our personality and even our memories are put together by words on a string. What we know and how we know it is transmitted by words, acquired through words which fire the neurons that affect the other neurons, that whizz and bang through the finite organ that is our brain into the infinite regions that is our mind. If we lose our words, would our pictures suffice? If we do not use our words, would meaning suffer?

I am happy that I can continue to put these words down on the page. But don’t try to have a conversation with me right now, my words just keep on failing me.

Published in: on March 3, 2013 at 6:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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