The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

Bad Thoughts

When I wake up in the morning, does this happen to you, please
add comments, if I lie in bed, which I do, having had troubled
or chopped sleep, which I have, the bad thoughts begin; I try to
banish them, think of other things, attempt breathing meditation
but nothing helps. There are thoughts of my aging, of dying, of
leaving Azure behind (which is the worst); there are memories
salvaged from my high-school years, or Soho years in the 70s;
memories as well of Nova Scotia, California, driving cross-
country, on and on. I try to avoid these, then there are
memories of my parents, or growing up in the home in Kingston,
Pennsylvania, or further memories of my daughter and our broken
relationship. I try to avoid these. Then there are violent
feelings of regret, feelings of loss with friends who have died,
feelings of abject loneliness (living in Rhode Island), feelings
of abandonment (so many of our friends are in NY or out West),
feelings of self-pity, of a life badly lived, of work which will
disappear when I die. When I count breaths, thoughts intrude; my
mind refuses to leave me alone, my mind splits, one part begs
the other, it's no use. The bad thoughts are there and will
remain until I rise, think of other things. I worry whether or
not I'll see my friends again, whether I'll be able to visit my
brother's or sister's families, whether I'll be able to work
again, even for a pittance, just for community, just to be part
of something. I worry about leaving things unsaid, unfinished, I
try to avoid such things. I want to think of other things. I
think of getting up to avoid such things, it's in the middle of
the night, should I take trazodone and more melatonin, should I
read or rise for the moment, work on a project, do grunt work,
will that get me back to sleep. I worry that my depression will
last the rest of my life and contaminate everyone around me,
that I'll have a stroke, that I'll be incapacitated, that I will
no longer be able to play music. My mind wanders back to
childhood, to promises of forthcoming books that will remain
stillborn, to recordings I'd like to do, choreography and video
and sound I'd want to work on with Foofwa or other dancers,
music I'd like to play with Stephen, I worry about car accidents
and growing increasingly despondent over the 'world situation.'
I try to avoid reading about pain and suffering and death, my
reading incapacitates, haunts me in the middle of the night, I
shudder in horror over pain and death imagined. My bad thoughts
include dying before I want to die, I never want to, I think all
the time of suicide as a way of avoiding bad thoughts, I'd never
kill myself. I think of pets I've had, of moments driving
through the Appalachians, of listening to Scottish music in Nova
Scotia, of playing on the banks of the Seine in Paris, about
failing to become a scientist, of disappointing everyone who was
sure I'd have a stellar career in art or music or literature, of
constantly disappointing my father, who said to me recently in a
dream, 'you've always been annoying.' Everywhere I turn there
are thick curtains, dark ones, behind them there's nothing, not
even more of them, the curtains murmur the onslaught of
emptiness. I think of missed opportunities, never learning
Japanese, never visiting China, no more gallery shows, no more
university affiliations. I think of friends who have been cast
adrift as well, everyone dealing with misery, depression, death,
of friends and relatives, of their own illnesses. I think of the
return of slavery by violent states, war and torture everywhere,
the darkness setting over humanity. I attempt to wake, I like in
bed sometimes for hours with these thoughts, I can't banish
them, sooner or later I get up, work for a bit, exhaust myself,
collapse back into deep sleep for a half hour to two hours at a
time, wake, practice music, and that may be my day. I think
about the phenomenology of anguish, of the state of being
bereft, of the imperturbability of name, of the world closing
down for me. I think of Azure, I turn towards her, cuddle, I
prepare myself for the day, I struggle, dawn has not yet struck
its discordance, I wake, I get up, I move. I approach the day.

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