On days like this one, the River of Constant Thought that cuts a reliable, refreshing swathe through the heavy jungles of my brain... shuts off. I can't remember things. I can't think of a better word for "things" than "things." And it irritates me. Thus begins the derision of my personality, the degeneration of my spirit. It's a painful spiral, and it requires a revolution (and all the fear, guts, blood and near-calamity that a revolution must entail) in order to prevail.
The River stops. The sound of it, clear and inevitable, is gone from the air. The water remaining between the banks is stagnant.
My Creative Soul stands at the water's edge. Yesterday, this spot was beautiful. Of all the countryside in my head, it was the place most worthy of her setting up camp. She had planned to commune with the sprites, exhale epic poetry, and skinny dip in the evening with fireflies glowing around her. She had decided to swim the width of it every morning, drinking in huge, nourishing gulps with each stroke.
Those plans are in vain. The sun permeates my eyes and beats on Her head. With no clean, cool place to strip and bathe, She hides. From Her hovel she watches the still water darken, murky with mud, warming. Mosquitoes spawn and swirl above the water, humming as they search their blood radar for my Soul. For a moment she contemplates slathering herself with mud, an ancient insect repellent... isn't it? But she can't remember. That fact, or the proof against it, is downstream and dying.
The day drags on; the sun bakes the berries off the bushes. The Soul wonders what she'll have left to eat.
And then the screaming starts. From the thousand odd corners of my dense, jungled Mind come the dying, pathetic cries of my Imaginings. The youngest ones, brand new and promising, the ones I plan to harvest at some later point and wring out onto paper, don't understand this new drought. They are thirsty and scared that my Soul will never hold them again. I loathe this moment. And so does she.
Fatigued and muddy (yes, she did end up rolling in it like a depraved pig...), feeling awfully sorry for herself, hungry and bloated, craving ice cream and a TV, my Soul claps her hands over her dirt-crusted ears and groans between gritted teeth.
"I can't move!" she calls out. "I need the river to travel and the damn beavers are keeping me from going anywhere!"
She's right of course. The Beavers, buck-toothed arch-nemeses of my Creative Soul, wait for unseasonably cold Mondays to construct hideous, primitive dams at the crux points of my Mind's river.
If I had any energy, I'd dream up a machete to drop in the capable hands of my Soul and let her start hacking her way through the chaos of vegetation and misery, not necessarily looking for the blasted beavers, but not avoiding them either. (A little blood might be just the thing on a day like this.)
But the River is so vital. An artery of words, a soother of thoughts, an organizer of dreams, the link between ports of call. Without it, I cannot trade. The mail can't get through. Priorities desert their posts and, let me tell you, my Soul has one heck of a time hunting them back down and herding them back into the proper paddocks.
So, where is she?
Still huddled beneath a scraggly juniper and swatting at the flies. The bigger Imaginings, the ones who lived through the big drought of January 2007, who were considered tough and knowledgeable, have started to whimper. The whimpering echoes through the canyons... and each Echo is ironic, as the river that cut the canyon in the rock is now so low and quiet that it cannot blot such cowardly cryings from my Soul's camp.
She is mad. And she is madder still knowing that there are millions of better, more powerful words for "mad" than "mad." Angry? Indignant?
"You have GOT to be kidding me!" she screams and, just like that, frustrated and filled with the kind of panic generated only when death seems possible, in fact probable, she's up and painted for war.
The machete appears, and it's a big one! She heaves it in a giant, glistening arc, obliterating whole chunks of forest. Somewhere, tree-huggers are crying. But this just spurs the little maniac onward. More swings, more destruction, a wider path through the bush. (I'll spare you the disemboweling of the notorious beavers. It's not pretty, but a battle for one's life rarely is.)
Within an hour, my Soul is sitting cross-legged on a slab of granite which protrudes over the deepest part of the River. The waters are deep, sapphire blue. The remnants of the beavers' attempted coup d'etat are waltzing on the waves, weaving into oblivion. And, just beyond the nearest white-capped eddy, in a clear, bright pool, the surviving Imaginings are splashing and hollering. The noise sparkles in the now-squeaky clean ears of my Soul.
She blinks and the machete becomes a nail file. Time for a pedicure. Mid-file she stops to greet a messenger, just visiting upriver from Thesaurus-town.
"Hello," she says with a welcoming smile.
"Hello, dear Soul," he says, bowing deeply.
"Mad?" she queries, shrugging.
He shakes his head and offers, "Choleric."
"Ahh, yes," she says, sighing, finally content. "Choleric."