Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Body and Soul

A recurrent motif that used to regularly feature as part of my dreams resurfaced from the Subconscious and back into the Conscious as I was walking down the street the other day on a pleasant balmy Saturday morning on the way to the bus stop to head into town (a frequent Saturday ritual for me).  Between my late adolescence (troubled years!) and my mid to late twenties, I found myself able, during my dreams to be able to separate my body from my soul.  This imagery and attribute still occasionally features in my dreams, however it is more of a guest appearance to one which I am habitually allowed to revisit.

The Lovecraft-esque inscription in Paura nella città dei morti viventi.

Generally, such an occurrence would take place if I was meant to be in two places at once, or i had made a promise to do one thing but had been made or encouraged to do another.  In order to do both things, I found myself able to divide myself up into two separate entities, both aesthetically identical however one of which was my body and one of which was my soul.  The body side of my ego retained all its human attributes and possessed neither special powers nor any apparent and evident differences which separated ‘me’ from any other person; except I would be bereft of most of my feelings, and was emotionally/physically numb...  I could talk and communicate but I would be subdued, removed.  “A shadow of myself” yet without a shadow, so to speak.   By contrast my soul could fly, and though I could be seen, this side to me was more like a ghost.  I was also more in touch with my feelings within my soul, and it was my soul I would end on my more emotionally charged assignments, seeing loved ones, doing tasks and duties that required feeling rather than simply automated attendance, or just my presence.   At the end of the day, body and soul would rejoin, able to share in experience and memories, and be as one again.

These dreams became less and less frequent; indeed all my dreams followed a similar fate, when my doctor put me on strong medication in an attempt to combat a severe bout of depression that plagued me during this time.  After attempt with two particular types of anti depressant, neither of which worked, my doctor placed me on Venlafaxine.  Initially he started with 75mg a day, then 150mg, and finally I was on 225mg a day to combat the deep melancholic depression that was affecting me in such a pronounced manner.   To their credit the pills certainly worked, I no longer felt such deep Depression, instead I felt a degree of neutral ambiguity to my existence, and to that of the world around me.  However, there were side effects to taking these pills, none of which really seemed to matter as I wandered through this haze like existence; these included a complete loss of sex drive, an extreme change in my metabolism and when sleeping, an infrequency in dreaming therefore my Unconscious never seemed to surface and my thought patterns were limited.

At the time however, the worst side effect was the change in metabolism.  My waist had previously been a mere 29, which admittedly was a complete nightmare for buying jeans and only Armani jeans seemed to suit my then-build and slender frame.  My waist went up and up, and finally I ended up with my waist being somewhere between 34 and 35, with a rather pronounced Akhenaten belly (for the first time ever) and a rather fat arse.  I remember the weekend I saw the light and what had happened to me, in that I was sitting on the common and it was pointed out that I had become rather podgy to say the least.  I must confess I initially dismissed this statement as it was being pointed out by someone who sees an inch of body fat as being overweight.  It was only the following day when going into central London and not being able to fit into a pair of rather nice shorts (and being told I needed size 36) that it dawned on me what had happened to me. 


So over a week I weaned myself off these pills.  Upon reflection I should have done it more gradually, but, other than the last night where I had rather vivid dreams once again, and I had the equivalent of ten nights’ sleep, I managed to do it.  I say ten night sleep, because my body clock kept on waking me up every hour, on the hour, and I would awaken, refreshed, ready for the day and then realise it was only 3am, then 4am, etc.  Since those days, I have lost a lot of weight, my waist is back to 30-31 and I have most of my sex drive back.  There have been times when I thought I might be better going back on anti-depressants over the years but I like being in touch with myself, my feelings, and I have no desire to balloon in weight once again and become rather podgy and rotund once more.

However the greatest loss is one that cannot easily be explained.  After this time I felt that at some point or another, somehow, my body had become separated from my soul and somehow the two had never quite become conjoined again and that I had lost some of my soul along the way.  Admittedly a lot has happened since then, not least failed relationships and disillusionment at myself, my path, and to an extent others, so that could have affected things in the subconscious as well.  But somehow I still feel numb, lost, disheartened, and like I have lost some of who I am and that my ka is out there in the void, trying to find its way home.

For now, I feel like the Traveller in Walter de la Mare’s The Listeners. Both in body and in soul, with my soul representative of the Traveller, knocking on the moonlit door, and the seemingly empty house, representative of my body.  The attempts to enter, or at the very least to illicit a response, but though one senses a presence, other than the sound of the bird flying out of the turret, there is nothing.  Nothing other than a sense, a feeling... I first heard this wonderful poem when I was entering my teenage years, and the words have resonated through my mind ever since.   The closing stanza of the poem is as enigmatic as the one with which it opens, leaving it’s reader none the wiser to the Traveller and the reason for his coming to the remote house.  T.S. Eliot, in his poem to Walter de la Mare, added to this sense of mystery in his words below:-

When the nocturnal traveller can arouse
No sleeper by his call; or when by chance
An empty face peers from an empty house;

By whom, and by what means, was this designed?
The whispered incarnation which allows
Free passage to the phantoms of the mind?

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