Sampled BB King crackles from the speakers over a drum beat right before the verse begins. It’s after midnight and I am on a stretch of Interstate 10, the black road rolling away beneath me like a concrete treadmill. The rhythm is hypnotic; the lyrics float through my head like bubbles.
Am I alive, or thoughts that drift away?
Does summer come for everyone?
Can humans do what prophets say?
My fingers tense and relax, tense and relax. My mind drifts and wanders as I rocket on through the night. Life in my head is usually chaotic, like someone pulled the fire alarm and my thoughts all scattered and ran for the exits. Like any system though, its tides ebb and flow. There is yang to the yin. That anarchy stretches and twists and then snaps back into perfect order.
Some days I have these crystal clear moments of thought. Just flashes really, flashes of clarity like a museum diamond. It’s as if I‘ve been shaken awake suddenly and violently from some sleepy drug induced nap just long enough to really see what’s happening, and then my captors pump more drugs into my neck and knock me back out. What exactly is that? That brief glimpse into the real…
If I die before I learn to speak
Can money pay for all the days I lived awake
But half asleep?
Because it comes from nowhere. I know that it is just some freak chemical explosion. We are all science labs of chemistry and reaction and all these emotions are really just two compounds colliding somewhere in my brain or my soul or my veins. I know that.
Sometimes I’ll find myself walking through a mall or into a restaurant, feeling jaded and alone or consumed by thoughts of this unobtainable girl or out of reach goals or this place that I haven’t reached yet, and I just walk, struggling with the anger or jealousy or boredom or disappointment. Then out of nowhere, something clicks. BANG. Wow. What was I just thinking? I see exactly how I’m supposed to handle this. It’s like I spilled a beaker in the lab and there was a brilliant quick-burn and it accidentally created something wonderful. Like I unintentionally cured cancer, and the treatment is right there where I spilled things, right there in front of me.
A life is time, they teach you growing up
The seconds ticking killed us all
A million years before the fall
And then the cleaning lady comes in and mops it up, and suddenly I’m standing there again with all that bullshit negativity and no idea how to deal with it because the answer isn’t recreatable.
And I hate that.
I’m two hours from home and the lucidity has left me. One hundred and fifty miles to go, I think to myself. How could it all have made such sense just five minutes ago?
BB King sings over the sound of piano keys as the song fades out. I drive the rest of the way in silence and wait for the next flash of clarity.