Alice Wilson: Tiny Space
Image: Unsplash, downloaded (https://unsplash.com/photos/zt8PJ6LT9Uw) 01.05.2022.
Today is a fiercely bright autumn day. The fire of the turning leaves is exalted in the relentless cheer of the sun. Like all tedious narcissists, I feel this mocks me. Of course it must be about me. The movements of nature and the chaos of the weather and the very earth spinning on its axis must always always be related to me. It is this hateful feeling of being trapped inside the tiny space of my own awful head that makes me push both of my hands into my mouth to see if I can pry open my jaws and crack open this tiny, mean space. I have seen cartoon crocodiles killed in this way. What a release it must be, to spill out of yourself.
I am looking at the little tiny pumpkins on the living room table. They are surrounded by autumn leaves that we collected on a slow and meandering walk through the woods at the petting farm. The leaves spill artfully from the mahogany fruit bowl, tumbling around the similarly autumn-hued pineapple which has been basking there for weeks. It will be inedible now. Next to the fruit bowl is a vase of flowers. The vase is a hand painted antique gifted to me by Cath on my 25th birthday and it is my favourite vase. Today it is home to a pinkish-red palette of gerberas, lilies, and some pleasing foliage with pomegranate coloured berries. The sunlight pours in through the huge south facing windows and picks out every exquisite detail of all this beauty. And as much as I know this scene is a delight, something about it is sickening me. All this pleasantness, all of my good fortune and health, my extreme luck in life and all of my gifts - do they belong to someone else? Who is this person today typing these letters; I am not sure it is anyone I know. I am afraid to accidentally glance in the mirror in case I see a stranger or an alien.
I know that there is no such thing as a real unified continual self, but it still feels dislocating when the fake-self-thing whiplashes me at breakneck speed into a new version of itself. Not even overnight, just in a second. It's more like a blunt force trauma. A hit and run. Why must we be so tormented by the difference between knowing something and feeling it? I know this will pass, I don't feel like it will pass. I know that I will die, I don't feel like I will die. Is this the same for everyone? Or are we taught to bifurcate knowing and feeling as an essential part of our education in becoming docile conformers, so that we can do things like Know that this t-shirt was made through acts of human enslavement but not Feel like we are complicit by buying it.
About the Author: Alice Wilson is a PhD researcher at the University of York looking at women who build their own tiny houses, and is also the co-director of social enterprise OpHouse. She has been writing since she was ten years old.