Dissociation is a true talent of mine, and believe me, it is a talent. At some point in the last two decades I learned to shift myself outside of the body the same way cigarette smoke haloes the smoker for an instant on the exhale, a sunlit cloud of lovely bitterness. I can wait there, if not indefinitely, then for long enough.
It’s a peculiar feeling, this weightless cessation of personhood. I have no one and nothing to identify with or against, I am not in conflict or in a state of desire. I am no body in a body, and the body’s senses are warped and heightened until the world appears to be passing in crystalline slow motion. It is dissolution on a personal level, I have returned to a blank slate and could now be anything, I am just as likely to become the pink petals of fallen cherry blossom as the high-pitched song of a speeding train. I am not merely dissociating, I am meditating.
I receive the sensory input with intense clarity. The raindrops gleaming on bright yellow tulips, the surface of moving water like rippling steel. Powerful aeroplane lights piercing the darkening sky like stars on a mission. The long scythe of the sky itself, illuminated silver-grey the whole of last week, deep gunmetal drifts of early evening cloud passing swiftly through the atmospheric levels on their own mysterious voyages.
Easy to become nothing under such a sky.
My favourite place to meditate – dissociate – dissolve – is the hospital. I would wander the halls for hours some evenings, or sit on a line of silent chairs outside closed departments, waiting outside the body like so many other people there, becoming the light reflecting off a linoleum floor. To my mind, becoming the nothing
– Except, not nothing. The world stuns in its ephemera. Here is the multi-hued sheen of a starling’s staccato body, here is a wall painted ochre above cobbled streets that remind me of Florence, here is the thin, pilgrim spirit of a woman’s perfume –
is not, I think, a symptom of anything terrible. It is not unreality, it is pure reality, and I read about Zen and wonder if they’d lock up all the happy nothings in their orange robes.
These moments of absolute sensation uncluttered by thought or attachment are a blessing. I am not suffering when I dissociate, any more than the starling’s petroleum rainbow feathers are suffering, any more than the yellow tulips feel pain. I am a long way away from such concerns. I am a clear column of ice and air.