Lately, I've been waking up at strange hours of the night. For no particular reason. Usually from some strange dream. I lie in bed, staring blankly in to the darkness and thinking unimportant, sleepy thoughts. And then all of a sudden I'm blindsided by a fact. Just creeps up silently and springs over me. Lissa, you have no idea whether or not anything you experience is real. Everything you feel could be an illusion. The people you know could be figments of your imagination and you could be horribly, horribly alone. Or, Lissa, you have no idea what your purpose in life is. Or, Lissa, it is actually possible that everybody who says they love you is lying.
Um, what the heck? These are thoughts you need full body armor to confront, even at high noon in the best of circumstances. But half-awake and chilly in the middle of the night? You've got to be kidding me. It's impossible.
Seriously, what do you DO about that? Here I am, living my life. I get up, I do my thing. Once in a while I do something abstract and complicated and I call it "success". Once in a while I do something abstract and complicated and people are unhappy with me and I feel horrible. The things that I do are so incredibly specific to my situation, this ridiculously engineered existence that I live. It's incredibly hard to make any sense of it. In order to know if anything I'm doing is worthwhile, I suppose I'd first have to know if humanity is worthwhile, then if civilization is worthwhile, and so on with education and music and love and friendship and engineering, all the way to whatever my latest dilemma is. About something like whether or not I've called my grandmother recently enough. It's dizzying.
Of course I want to be right. I want it to turn out, in the end, that I did the right thing with my life. But the energy it takes to face up to the task of determining whether or not I'm on the right track is too much for me to handle. (Humor me here. I know I'm 22. But you never know what's gonna happen tomorrow.) So I lie there in bed and I just wipe away those thoughts. I tell myself that my senses do not deceive me, that my existence is real. That my life will be made purposeful if I live it well and that I should not hope for anything more. That I am not as alone as I feel. That it will be ok in the morning. I have no proof, but there are lies you have to tell yourself... there are things you cannot face alone.
When I wake up, and the sun is streaming in the windows and I can hear my housemates up and about in the rest of the house, and I can see B sleeping soundly right next to me, the world is a whole lot friendlier. But it does leave me with a feeling much like jet lag. I feel as though I've been away a long, long time. I sit at the breakfast table. My friends filter in. I'm so relieved. They seem so real in the bright sun. I want to jump up and hug them and tell them I made it out safely and how glad I am to see them again. But this seems silly and unwarranted. I eat my toast and smile.