“What one part of nature best represents you?”
A simple, harmless question, asked of a group of slowly tiring partygoers shortly before dawn. It seems the careless, energetic games and dancing of the night are completely over. Everyone sits together in a room, sharing their thoughts and emotions. And it is here, sitting and thinking about the question, that my mind turns away from the carefree bliss the night has been. Upon stopping and thinking, my uninhibited subconscious is replaced by my repressed conscious mind, and the depression that my over thinking everything inevitably brings.
As I mentally withdraw from the aura of closeness that has settled on the group, I think again on the question. So many options to describe the many different and conflicting aspects of myself, but what describes the whole? Then the image enters my thoughts, and will not leave: ice. Ice? Why ice? The joke that I assume will enter the others’ minds if I tell them is that I see myself as “cool.” But of course this is not and has never been the case. So why ice?
Not because it is cool, but because it is cold. Isolated. Frozen.
As others answer the question, the image in my mind expands. Not just ice now, but a lake, completely frozen over. Beneath the barrier, the lake teems with life. Wondrous plants and animals, such as the world has never seen. Slowly dying. Slowly freezing as the endless winter, a winter that has lasted more than a decade, makes the water ever colder. They don’t even realize they are dying.
I see myself, beneath the ice, finally realizing that I must escape. I see myself clawing desperately at the frozen wall between me and the world. I make progress, but is it enough? I have been beneath the ice so long, I have missed so much. Even if I break free of the trap, will it be too late?
I am snapped back into reality by one of the others remarking at how open the group is. Like family. Family? My family is on the other side of the ice. Of all people, they are most separated. I hide my true thoughts and feelings from them more than anyone else. Thus the comparison only serves to isolate me further from the others in the room. I bottle my emotions again, and drift back into my little world.
Bottle my emotions. Something I have done my entire life, more so as I grew older. But bottles can only contain so much. The bottle was full many years ago, and still I attempt to put more into it. So the bottle leaks. I begin to laugh for no apparent reason. I stab a friend with a pencil for the merest trifle. So it has been for years. It has become too much to contain. In addition to the usual social issues, the usual inability to act on my own advice, larger tragedies have occurred. The death of my grandfather, the terrorist attacks, and the death of my favorite aunt. I am trying to hold back a waterfall with a cork. Still I cannot bring myself to be fully open. So my emotions force their way out. They force their way out in tears, when I am alone, when I cannot contain the sorrow any longer. They force their way out in the form of creativity. Stories, films, artwork. Aspects of my psyche spilling out for the whole world to see.
My thoughts return to the events of the night. I recall dancing. Dancing? Idiot! Stupid, pathetic, idiot! It was, however, close…so close to breaching the ice. No longer worried about holding back the waterfall, I nearly escaped the frozen trap. But now I can feel the ice reforming, and I am too tired now. Too tired from holding back the flow to dig my way out of the ice. The bottle is cracking, the water is freezing, and I know that this is no way to live. But if the only way to escape is laying bare my emotions? My writing, already, leaves me open to mockery. Pain. But if I do not write, I will simply cause myself that same pain.
So what does one do when the only escape from a painful death is risking pain and death?