Alertness seizing control; heart pounding, eyes wide, mouth dry; darkness all around the room peeling away from the shadows, encroaching steadily and yet, remaining a sideshow. The darkness is ever a pernicious existence, unknown and unknowable, and yet, adrenaline’s monopoly keeps it away; adrenaline keeps us cocooned within our thoughts. Thoughts that ride a bullet train from Station Past to Present Junction to Unknown Destination Future. And despite all of this grey familiarity, we don’t have a clue where we’re going.
Ovular, circular, heart-shaped; brown, green, blue — these elements, manifestations of what we encounter in our bullet train, follow us through every cabin, carriage, and crossing; over every hump, bump and jarring halt, we see them again. Not all of them, no. There is shifting, relocation, and alternation. There exists that ever-expanding horizon which, outside of this existence, bears many other trains shooting along it. Not all of them are bullet trains; there remain the grinding axels, pumping pistons and hoary steam of times when, in ways the subjective mind cannot perceive (will not perceive), the world moved at a slower, more controlled, pace.
Have you ever woken up, and found yourself sweating, mind cool as ice and yet running on maximum RPMs in order to discern what your subconscious was baiting you with? What memories had been plucked from differing scenarios and meshed together, giving your life an aspect that only you could ever see? It is a film viewed by you alone, the reel burning away with a celerity seeking to catch the film before you see it all. Old friends, relatives, school, work. How many dreams have you had where two people you associate with, each belonging to a different circle, have stumbled into the same scene — strange, is it not? I’m no Freud, so I could sit here and list a thousand reasons, each as wrong as the next or as potentially fabulous as the last, and no weight could be attributed to any suggestion. However, in these instances, what is going on? A friend of ten years and a friend of only 4 months find themselves in a location you wouldn’t attribute to either of those friendships; in your mind, you see the scenario through a pair of eyes. Are these eyes your own? Unless these friends interact with you, how can you be sure? How and why have they been brought together, in this location, in this jumbled reorganization of memories?
There are colours. Perhaps these will the location into existence. In my head, at this instant, the colours are swaths of dark green. There is russet brown in lines both horizontal and vertical but these lines seem inferior to the greens. The faces are pale, sharp and heart-shaped versus round and soft. Drained of all will, it seems. There is no glorious azure sky, no burning copper sun. Around the edges (edges that feel, in my mind, fuzzy), there is music. Music I recognize. Music I have played on my bass guitar. There are riffs I feel at home with, interludes I’ve played with a grin on my face, and trickier sections where my concentration has been indubitable (which isn’t always the case in my non-dream world).
The bullet train stops at Station Past, but it never really stops. It moves on, inexorably. Passengers — memories, feelings and emotions all hop aboard, and there is a community between them all. There is antagonism, of course, for how can happiness and sorrow share the same berth without a quarrel or two? However, what can be offered if not forgiveness?
This is a train with no power to halt, no ability to wait around. There is impatience, insidiously creeping through the whole train. Impatience and doubt combine, and suddenly there is complete confusion and then hysteria, and before you know it, sparks jump out, igniting, and the flames of all we have been thus far are writ large in words of rejection. The rules change. There can be no abrogation here. Station Past, no matter how often visited, is past. No rule-bending allowed. Everything that has been is gone. As such, everything we have had shall never be had again. Never had, never seen, never felt.
Junction Present jumps and dances around. The screeching speed of the train twists and turns, yet Present looms large on all sides. A tourist attraction seen but never felt. Of course, there is feeling, but is an intemerate feeling. Untouched, undefiled. We never truly know what it is to feel, and that is the present, is it not? There, then gone.
Those pale faces, they communicate. I cannot hear them. There is laughter, there is gesticulation. The eyes I gaze through seem to be closing slightly, in a diffident manner. Fingers are pointed and the laughter hardens. The music quickens, still recognizable…until finally, it is beyond the faculties of my talents to interpret, let alone play it. The greens begin to darken around the edges, blackening like ink. The scene is a shrinking atramentous cloud, closing in upon the faces and the eyes I look through, until all I know is the darkness of the real world, where my own eyes reactivate within a murky zone of fuliginous shadows.
The music is playing now on my computer as I write this. Fifteen tracks. There is emotion, there is ambition, and there is camaraderie. The tightness of practice, the conjuration of something magical — it is there. We all feel it. Track twelve now. Formerly known as Shaun’s Song in A. My feet are drumming, separate from my body. Automatons to their own will and satisfaction. The song ends, and yet, before it disappears there is that feeling of success. Of having started with nothing, and created, well, fuck, at the very least, created something. Something created to grab attention; to hold up a waving hand when a hoarse voice cannot be heard.
Unknown Destination Future is what it is. But Station Past is what it will eventually be. All of us are guilty of letting every second pass us by, at some point of another. Procrastination — the favourite word of this generation — really isn’t as great as it holds itself up to be. Pull yourself out of bed. Take my dream and reread it if you have to. An old friend and a new one, with music I used to play. They are in a forest. If that isn’t my subconscious crying out for some sort of comfort within familiarity, from the past of my existence, then I don’t know what is. Many of us will go to that dark green place at some point, because before we know it, the present is behind us, and all we are left with is the ashen taste of regret.
Time is sempiternal, but we are not. It is easy as a being with a time frame mapped out at perhaps, eighty years, to think that an extra hour in bed won’t hurt, or that an essay or a work presentation can wait until tomorrow. Easy, until tomorrow comes and, devoid of inspiration, we wish we could gather up the sands once more and spin time around and use it with a greater sense of wisdom. Yet, in the predictable selfishness of humanity, we’d probably use a second chance to sleep that hour away again.
Don’t let your own bullet train get away.