A head full of ghosts

They’re never quiet.

Oh I can ignore them – turn the volume up on my conscious thoughts or slip into a book and listen to someone else’s ghosts for a while – but I’m never unaware of their presence, never alone.

I’m not sure I’d want to be, any more.

I used to want that, though. I’d try to shut them down; burying them deep inside layers of obstinate denial or trying to fracture them with barbed thoughts and outside intervention. It never worked for long and, eventually, I accepted that the resultant emotional explosions when they broke free weren’t worth the brief respite it brought.

Then I realised how useful they were.

I’m never at a loss for mental stimulation, not when I can close my eyes and have the past made flesh in my mind. Which isn’t to say it’s a wonderful experience because more often than not it’s painful and difficult and turns my stomach – I don’t like failure and there’s been more than enough in my life – but the knowledge and the understanding that it gives me? That is worth every single second of uncomfortable introspection I may endure.

But the knowledge of how I work isn’t the best bit, not by a long shot.

No, the best bit is the other ones. The ones that aren’t the shadows of my past but something new, unknown.

These others are endlessly fascinating, twisted up as they are with each other and the bits of me I’ve not finished with yet. They’re made of half forgotten memories, things picked up from books and holidays, from talking to strangers and wandering round museums. They’re picked out in scarlet and gold in the patchwork of my mind and they resonate like violin strings, offering the promise of songs as yet unsung.

Sometimes I can unravel them.

I’ll take a particularly noisy thread and follow it all the way to end. Let the vibrations take over so I can seek out the harmonies as well as the discords and end up making an intelligible story out of the chaos.

It’s a bittersweet experience; getting caught up, completely, in something I know will end. It’s satisfying though, making something new, something that has never existed before and ending up knowing it so well it feels like a friend. And the sense of accomplishment more than outweighs the confusion and emotional entanglements generated along the way. Sometimes I think I procrastinate working the kinks out just because I don’t want the process to end.

But it always does.

Which isn’t too bad really, since when I reach the end of one I can just start on another.

After all, they’re never quiet.

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