Wednesday, March 26, 2008

ghosts and phantoms

I believe in ghosts. Not the ones of the paranormal kind. The ones that people swear are responsible for their broken dishes or reappearing stains on the carpets or haunting sounds in the dead of night... Rather the ghosts that linger in the space between presence and absence. They live in the moments where time stands still.

What do I mean exactly? I don't know.

Today, I stepped outside into the air that was desperately trying to make it over the hump to Spring - and felt as though I couldn't breath. My mind has a way of travelling at light speeds and all at once I was overwhelmed with the idea that if you stay in one place long enough - you'll eventually see all of its ghosts. Ghosts of romances that never made it. Romances that went terribly wrong, sinking into tears and desperation and settlement. Ghosts of dreams abandoned for the house on the corner and the steady paying job. Ghosts of those who were supposed to live out life with us but now don't live at all...leaving time to stand still for those who were left.

Even paranormal experts will tell you that not all ghosts intend to harm. They're not all bad. So I don't say that I see these ghosts with a measure of cynicism or negativity. Those ghosts are a people and a place's history. It's story. And at the moment that I thought it I could barely breath in the crowd of ghosts around me. I could barely hear my ipod of the sounds of their memory.

They are much like the idea of the phantom limb. The fact that patients who are forced to have a limb amputated can still feel it, feel its pain after it is gone.

You can try to detach people or ideas or dreams from yourself. But it seems that, just like the phantom limb, even once you remove yourself from the subject - you can still feel it. Feel it's pain, it's joy, it's essence. You can tell someone that it's over - but you can still feel the way their arms wrapped around your waist. Their hand through your hair. You can stop dreaming. But you can feel the desire that inspired the dream.

Distraction, I think, helps the pain of that which is phantom. Keep yourself busy and you may not notice it. You may even go a whole day not feeling it. But take a second to stop and you can become overwhelmed with the weight of absence.

But I supposed it's the same wherever you go. And I suppose there's comfort in that.

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