Deep in the Ocean

I understand the urge to disappear completely; it feels like being an oyster, hiding in the water, behind doors of shell, sheltering in darkness as black as the goth kid’s bedroom curtains.

I happened upon a book at the library once, called Opium Fiend. The first chapter described an opium addict who made a living as a writer, and only contacted his associates through e-mail. He had created a lifestyle of almost total isolation. His living quarters were comprised of one seedy Beijing hotel room: a small studio, one bathroom, one window (boarded up). An opium kit was assembled on a table, in case a fix was needed.

The narrative then depicted his attempt to quit the drug cold-turkey, which provoked 32 hours of pain, and vomit, and diarrhea, taking him up to and beyond his capacity to feel agony, until he finally ended it: he gave up the notion of quitting and smoked some opium. Blissful relief flooded needy veins.

I only read the one chapter before I got scared by how… perversely attracted to the story I was. “I could get really into this,” I said to myself. “I wonder what opium would be like!” The book got put down and I was taken out of the library—by spirits wiser than myself.

The author of Opium Fiend knew about that urge to disappear completely. I sometimes think of it also as a devotion to an inner world, seen only by oneself. There’s privacy to allow something to grow in there, because no one else can see it, and the “something” is limited only by one’s imagination. Soon enough though, that which grows in the imagination seeks to manifest itself in reality, and one promptly finds oneself out in the world again, connecting with others once more… while the little imaginary “something” sits, like a pearl, inside the pocket, whispering to the heart: “Go here. Go there. Talk to that one. Ask for that. Make me! I want to be real!”

Thinking about the urge for isolation always reminds me of the ocean. Anything could be in there! It goes so deep… “Maybe there’s somewhere I can hide.” Cut to a few million years and a couple of planetary shifts later: my corpse having mummified in a deep-sea ditch somewhere, but ages later tossed up to the top of a mountain for every villager to see. “Has your privacy been invaded?” one may wonder. I may answer in return, “No. My ghost barely even thinks about that body anymore, and has become a lot less shy, besides.”

I did actually try to hide in the ocean once, two years ago. I found a city down there, full of people and fish. Humans can breathe underwater, if you just go down deep enough; who knew? I really loved that place… No one talked to me. You could hole up somewhere for days, and no one would think it strange at all. Everyone’s really generous with their drugs.

I got scared when I began to forget who I was; I was led out of that city—by spirits wiser than myself.

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Howl was born in the wastes north of Hithlum, where only beasts and witches dare roam. He was raised by two old hags, Tabby and Wiles, who had an unhealthy fascination towards the literary arts. Howl now resides in a well-furnished cave off South Rim Trail, complete with an old iBook and Wi-Fi.