Complacency is neither my forte nor luxury. It seems the universe wants me to dwell (in both senses of the word) on the edge of consciousness, that Occam’s razor edge between life and death where philosophy may dance up a storm, but to no avail because the real storm comes from a dark cloud of unknowing pressing down on me like a giant boot. Its presence, for all you cant see and can only imagine it, is palpable, undeniable—and proves once more that imagination is more compelling than circumstance, even than perception.

Call it a funk if you will, this limbo that has led its share of sacrificial victims to suicide—and it is a funk—but what you call it is just children’s sticks and stones hurled at the raw, unbeaten yolk of its egg hatched out of you. Out of your monstrous uterine nerves and stressed heart, beating normally perhaps, but abnormally beaten. So it feels and so it is, because in this case what feels is.

You are the universe’s chicken, and the edge you tread, squawking and feather-ruffled, both exists prior to you—insignificant thing that you are— and is being created by you, which would seem to give your person some sort of significance. But it is a significance that changes nothing, which is why you are a chicken, much as you’d like to be a normal—well, more or less normal—happy man.

It’s not your fault you’re a chicken. Life has you by the tail feathers, death has you by the throat—and the universe is feeding you the seeds of your biological as well as spiritual destiny. That being the DNA of your personal, familial, national and world-involved history mated to, if not determining, the weather in your bones and the freedom in your prison of flesh.

It is the dance and stance, seat and meat, height and flight, drunkenness and sobriety, notoriety and propriety of your consciousness which only seems to find peace (unless you are asleep or meditating) in its engagement with what unsettles it; and in the act of expressing itself, an act that can only take place in the eye of the storm. For there a moment or two of respite allows you to reflect upon and record the limbo, the liminal twilight where sensation gives way to merciful oblivion. No wonder nothingness, inconceivable as it is, is exulted in and sought by so many overly sensitive poetic types who are familiars of hell . . . and who take the yearning for oblivion with them even when they’ve discovered a paradise more substantial than oblivion.

Or, to change the metaphor, the liquor of heaven they drink from another body or a fantasy, aphrodisiac of sense and spirit, tastes all the more real and “poetent” for being spiked—or laced if you want to sound less violent about it—with a tincture or a jigger of nothingness. But it can only be tasted, as I imply, in the eye of the storm, which is the yoke of the egg you’ve hatched. And, paradoxically, it only remains whole by being beaten.

You are not just a chicken, you’re an omelet. The universe’s teeth are sharp as it bites into you, insatiably hungry. And yet, wonder of wonders, you are the one who tastes it. You taste yourself, you taste what you are made of, and it tastes like it feels: a black cloud like a boot in a sunny sky trampling what you have made of yourself, all you have won of insight, accomplishment and happiness, which is not lost so much as ignominiously squashed by this shadow that, too, is you and probably always will be as long as flesh covers the bones that harbor your soul and intimate freedom. Anxiety, it seems, is the price you pay for that freedom. And anxiety is the opposite of complacency.