Did I sleep last night? I can hardly tell. I feel as though I woke up at least half a dozen times. But was my waking only a dream? Did I dream that I slept, or dream that I woke? That I could be genuinely confused about this is an indication of how numb I am. Not certain of what I feel, or even if I am feeling.
I do remember this: in a distressing dream I am driving around the outskirts of Los Angeles. I am trying to get to the ocean, but I get lost and instead seem to be heading to the airport. The freeway is confusing. I am on a ramp that is ridiculously steep, almost perpendicular. It seems as if my car will slide down it backward, but I keep pushing blindly towards the top. Cars zoom around me on both sides. I have to change lanes. Where will I go at the fork? Am I going to fall or crash? I suddenly feel as if I am struggling not to reach the top of the crest on the highway, but to awaken. I am aware of both the dream and the struggle to wake, lying in my own bed, in my bedroom that sometimes feels like the hold of a ship. And then I hear the ringing of my alarm and I am here, and ambivalently safe, and awake, and relieved.
Dreams of confusion, of not knowing whether I am awake or asleep, of being lost on a freeway, rocking in the hold of a ship, struggling out of quicksand—all images that reflect the uncertainty that has befallen all of us.
I remember how it was after the mass was discovered in Jim’s lung. Life suddenly stopped and became a waiting room, in which we waited for Jim to die. It took a long time to start back up again; even after his passing.
Now this. The whole world is in the waiting room. But waiting for what?
This sense of waiting is not new; it is, in the experience of some mystics, a universal existential reality. But now we all are thrust into this dark night of the world’s soul.
What rough beast?