• Olivia Luchini

Stiff and Growing Stiffer

We don’t free-fall into the pit for a singular reason. In reality, the fall is brought about by a multitude of individual strikes to the knees. Often, these are from completely different, even polarizing, sources. A spilled coffee on a gum-accessorized sidewalk is not what lands a gal in between stale sheets with unwashed hair and a single protein bar a day. Of course, the spilled coffee might have been the final and fatal blow, but you cannot look at the soaked ground and draw your red string from Point A to Point B (Point B being those aforementioned stale sheets).

I am stiff and growing stiffer, caught between the sole remaining shred of passion in a burnt out brain and the void of this pit. I have lost all athleticism and I have lost all courage to climb. My muscles are morphing into plastic like a Barbie doll and I can no longer touch my toes. I am stiff and growing stiffer as I adopt a new resting position that doesn’t have me lurching forward toward opportunity but instead has me horizontal, legs twisted like licorice and arms supporting a heavy head. This blanket is a shield from what I do not feel like conquering.

We all want the easy solution, and there’s got to be something within the scrolls that will ignite the passion inside once more. We are all hoping to find the punchline, the picture, the piece, or the post that will wake up that familiar but distant part of us. It’s the part of us we relied on so heavily that we forgot it was there until it was gone in a similar way to how we forget how often we breathe through our noses until cold season reminds us.

There’s a ladder in the pit and I can see it from just beyond my toes. Another me could easily grab its sides and a better me would launch myself over its steps with a mighty fist to the sky as I defeated its vertical vileness. This me just stares. It seems to be all I know how to do anymore, as if my own eyes have lost their understanding of what they know they know.

On occasion, depression feels like a technological glitch. Perhaps that’s the child of this century in me who sees it that way. I cannot fathom how my brain can forget all of the good, but I don’t have a strong enough connection to make it recognize its former joys and joculars. It leaves me looking for a settings tab that I can command a reboot through or perhaps a factory reset. Honestly, I’d select anything to salvage the damn machine.

Sometimes, I envision myself swinging in a field so clearly that I swear true wind hits my cheeks. I don’t know why this is the only paradise my brain can muster up, but it is somewhere that feels liberating and affectionate simultaneously. When I grab a glimpse of this oasis, I feel a distant whisper that compels me to write, but more often than not I do not grab the pen. It’s at my toes like the ladder, which means it’s practically inaccessible.

This is the pit at its worst, but there are days where I do not feel like I am stuck down there at all. A good book, a semi-forced trip to a comedy show, or a call from an old friend seems to airlift me out for a brief moment so I can see the summer sun scorch on now wilting fields of sunflowers, and I don’t feel like I ever have to go back down there. Then, I do. Then, I forget about the sun. Then, a quick fix. Then, forgetfulness again.

I swear you wouldn’t believe I was in the pit if I saw you today, and I’d bet I wouldn’t guess you were in it either. You and I have grown into experts of the daily façade. We learn toothy smiles like we learned handwriting, through repetition and constant exercise. We don’t want to rock to boat but, without movement, we are bound to grow stiff and then stiffer until we cannot rock anything at all. We pick a fight here and there just to feel again, but it is fleeting and we do not know what we are fighting for anymore. We yell about the coffee on the street, but it is not about the spilled drink. It’s mainly about, “The spilled drink…on top of all of this bullshit?!”

Cover image by Odd Nerdrum available here

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