I feel the pain. I feel it often. So often now that I don’t run, yet I do not smile. I hear her laughing and I cannot stop my heart from beating a little louder. Thump, THUMP. It hurts. I hear her walking down the wooden stairs and my chest begins to pound, each footfall is another kick in the gut. She is coming with a story. She is coming to suck a little more attention in her direction. And as I feel a vortex of energy coming, I feel a little vacuum grow. I feel the pull of a star-less space. There is a tug on my toes. My attention is going elsewhere, like waves on a shore that only recede, its going to a place where little spindles fly in circles and dive into my joints. They join together, tight as a brick in my jaw and I cannot talk. I cannot laugh or smile. I am stuck. It’s hard to move, it’s even hard to breath. And it would seem like it’s coming because she has walked in. She has come down the stairs, she has started to spin the tale of her day. That’s what I tell myself. It is because of her. Her voice, her laugh, her story, her sucking in all the energy of the space, pulling me out and robbing me of my smiles and my air. Anxiety swirls around me like a conscious whirlwind, moving to the right, to the left, wherever I step like a fast-footed athlete. She is the reason, the source, the pain. That’s what I tell myself.
And that could be the story forever. The little explanation that lasts until the carousel breaks in a puff of smoke and all the plastic animals tumble out. It is so easy to blame. Just so easy. Wrongness comes from the outside, from people who do not have it right. From people who just haven’t learned or understood or developed the right brain cells. The Other. But it is that which is the source of the problem. The belief in right or wrong. There are only habits. The habit of politics and speech and body movement. The habits of the machine, transmitted and programmed since birth by parents and school and friends and church and society. The learned habits of an entire culture run amok through this body. The habits of a western man, the habits of an Indian woman. They are different. But neither is right, neither wrong. Two sets of habits. Each person has some. Each is convinced of their rightness.
And as I hear her coming with the force of a train, my habits begin to creak. The pain begins. She brings her habits, she exhibits them. Her hands move wildly. Her voice rattles the walls. But it is the clash of habits which hurts, not her. It is the reaction of one machine to another. The Other has a different set of habits. There is no fault. There is only learned mechanicality. The differences are what cause the pain. The clash between what I want and what they are. The clash between how I want things to be and what Is at the moment. It is the clash that causes the pain. Not the Other. The Other is just me in a different form.