“Seize the day, and put the least possible trust in tomorrow.” – Horace
When the cease-fire had been successfully negotiated between my bombarded sanity and the merciless encroachment by mania across my poorly fortified borders, I had some time to exit the bunker of my psychiatrists office and assess the destruction caused by my determination to stave off lunacy. The bipolar assault started with quiet discussions between my moral compass and my livelihood; I deplored my employment and the sanctions forced upon me; I despised their leadership; I spoke out against unfair wage practices. But surrender wasn’t discussed as I was shouldering the burden of lifestyle and there was a tremendous expectation to avoid austerity measures at all costs.
“No one can confidently say that he will be living tomorrow.” – Euripides
But as negotiations between sanity and lunacy stalled, my need for stability extinguished every extraneous characteristic strategically in order to sustain a devoted and appeased veneer. My daily performances of a stable and sanguine employee collapsed the moment I closed my office door. Obviously, I used to say to myself, you built your house on stilts on a steep slope overlooking a rain forest. It’s already started to happen, the slipping, the subtle shifting of supports witnessed by numerous cracks, and one day the view will swallow your self-inflated invincibility. I knew it was on the march, my insight gained by a nightly ritual of alcohol, opiates, and barbiturates; stilts if you will; I tried to shore them up by ingesting higher dosages knowing that an overdose was more likely than a possibility. But then, at least, the conflict would end, not by a victor, but by a dual annihilation.
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” – Abraham Lincoln
It took less than a month before all negotiations broke down; compromise was impossible; mania demanded that sanity unconditionally surrender immediately. If sanity stonewalled mania would easily breach the helpless border of sanity and annihilate any vestige of reality. Mania would speedily dispatch all disenfranchised defiance and finally overthrow sanity’s ruling party. The occupation by an uncontrolled mania took its toll; defy authority; recent stronghold of relationships humiliated then abandoned in an irreconcilable ruin; mania marched through memory, abducting the defenseless past and drained its meaning as a form of promiscuous entertainment. Mania’s presence transfigured my identity into a mutation; my anatomy remained intact; it was my mental state which sustained permanent damage.
“The crisis of yesterday is the joke of tomorrow.” – H.G. Wells
Eventually mania’s corruption, lawlessness, and influential overlords devolved into civil war, fracturing mania’s resistance to the significant bombardment of sanity’s allies. Continued sorties by way of medications, therapy, and education combined with mania’s faltering infrastructure caused their retreat. Sanity returned and started the intense clean-up, but some things were destroyed beyond repair; some relationships were so disfigured that it was impossible to identify the missing parties; the financial sector had been sacked, sucked bone dry, leaving sanity buried under a mountain of unsecured debt which was nearly impossible to pay. But the most significant consequence of mania’s occupation was the destruction of sanity’s history; it’s legends, it’s memories, it’s priceless, irreplaceable moments of time’s memory known as the past. And tomorrow simply vanished along with hope, their whereabouts unknown, disassociated fragments remain, but I’ve decided that tomorrow and hope were victims of mania’s collateral damage.
“What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.” – Goethe
It’s been four years since the siege. I’m hardly the vibrant, entertaining, and social personality I was before the conflict. I’m anxious at the slightest hint of crowds; I can’t tolerate aggression or hurtful behaviors (from people, dogs, television) and must remove myself immediately; my pharmaceutical therapy is a misnomer and leaves me as focused as a puppy on his first day of obedience training. And I’ve had to forget that today will become yesterday because for me there is no yesterday; in an abstract sense, yes, I understand that there is yesterday but it and most of what it contained is lost to me. So I practice forgetting that yesterday holds any value. And tomorrow? For me there is no tomorrow. Again in an abstract sense, yes, I understand, but now I’m driven to finish everything today because I can’t think about tomorrow.
Living in the present is a spiritual lesson and if practiced can lead to enlightenment. But that only applies to those fortunate enough to enjoy the freedom of choice.
My living in the present is just one more day absent of the bookends of time. Every day is always today.
“Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.” – Lucy Maud Montgomery