I was in bed trying to sleep off a migraine the other day. My eyes were closed and the room was silent. But I couldn’t sleep because of a steady clicking noise coming from somewhere in the building. Click, click, click, it went like the sound of someone softly tapping a screwdriver against a metal pipe. Click, click, click. It continued.
I wondered if it might be the wind pushing against a tree branch, causing it to tap against a window, somewhere, maybe in another room. Perhaps it was someone like me, typing away at their computer, and the echo of the fingers on the keys was rippling through the air vents. I would never have noticed it normally, this world around me. This world that was click, click, click-ing away and, likely-I would venture to say, has been for most of my existence.
I closed my eyes and let my forehead throb, moving outside myself to the click, click, click-ing of everything I am not.
As I type this, I’m sitting by a window looking out towards a tree that is fading from sight with the oncoming dusk. Earlier, while nursing the same headache, I found myself incapable of focusing on reading and instead watched as two woodpeckers danced up and down bare trunk of an ancient tree. They chased each other back and forth across its bark, prancing about the tree like lovers bickering on a dance floor.
Was it possible that I was witnessing the opening scene of a new world? I can’t be sure. But what’s entirely possible is that everything taking place out there is just as important as the world at my fingertips.
But who could take the time to consider it? I know I wouldn’t, if not for these damn migraines.
The writer’s role, as with all artists, is to be a migraine in the mind of culture. It may be painful, it must be painful, but with the pain comes the gift of awareness. Awareness to words, meanings, thoughts, the click click click– ing of heartbeats all around us that would otherwise be lost to in the conundrum of our own personal normalities.
I cannot say I live up to this role, just like I cannot say I am thankful for the pain behind my own skull. But as the ache rises up, pounding in it’s fluctuations of insistence, so I also understand the compulsion to take up the pen, so to speak.
Of course, this is just my way of rubbing the pain from my own head. I am often overcome with apathy on the part of writing. At the same time, self-aggrandizing is a persistent temptation. I try to rest under no delusions about the importance of my words. But I cannot stop the aching.
For it takes many colors to paint the picture of culture and I am but one of them, an obscure shade of magenta perhaps- lurking among shadows of someone else’s primary color in a scene from the sunset of time.
And it is necessary to understand my role as such, both as a writer but more importantly as a human being. I am not a primary color; the world would just as soon be fine without me. And I welcome the day when migraines no longer invade my schedule. But I am still a color. To deny this would be to deny the aching behind my eyes. And I simply cannot do this. If you’ve ever had one, you must know.
Still, when it comes down to it, what could I accomplish from behind a desk? Likewise, there is not much to be said for the migraine behind my skull. Not much, save for the fact that it prompts me to ask “why?”
Why the clicking?
Why the birds?
Why the pain, the numbing, aching, thrashing pain?
And this is a question laced with dangerous beauty. For within its syllables rest the power to drive a human from the household of their own experience into the journey of desire. It rescues us from the shelter of our subjective solitude, the defenses we build then paint with our own color. This glorious recues comes at the hand of words, stories, and pictures prompted by the migraines of our culture.
For how could you not feel the pain without asking the question yourself?
And so, for now, I live with the migraines. And I type away, my own click, click, click-ing in a world of many colors. I type away and sleep off the migraine when I can. When I can’t, I try to be thankful. Thankful for the oh-so-many colors surrounding me and the place I find among them. It may be within a shadow, but with this I am content.
Because, truly, I have no other choice. And, besides, it helps with the migraine.