The noonday demon

Went out this morning and took a beating from the sun. It’s summer in DC now. The humidity is unreal, like another planet. You can’t breathe. The air is tar. A slimy, sweaty substance coats your skin the moment you step outside.

Mosquitos attack and infect you with diseases. Turn your ballsack into a pin cushion and render you sterile. Tiny parasites spread itchy bumps, redness and rashes over every uncovered part of your body. You scratch yourself like a madman. Relief is brief and then the torment returns.

I have sunburns everywhere. My skin is radioactive, a nuclear testing ground. I have sunburns through my shirt and pants. A second of sunlight is automatic cancer. There is no ozone, no protective barrier between the raging, remorseless sun and sensitive organic tissue.

Now I need to start slathering myself with lotion, balm, and sunscreen whenever I think about going outside. I’ll have to put on a welder’s mask when I raise the curtains in my room.

I need to be naked. The sun will rain fire on me anyway. I’ll accept a loin cloth or a fig leaf but that’s it. Shirts, pants, socks and shoes are deadly accessories in this weather.

The heat and my upcoming shift are sapping my will to work. I was going to write about urban planning and the character of American cities, but the sun cooked my brain. I finished that book on the decline of America and had a few more thoughts on it, but those are burnt to a crisp now.

And it’s noon. The high point of radiant despair. Sometimes the cloudless, blinding, blue sky days are the most depressing. There’s no where to hide, no excuses for feeling less than exuberant. It’s all brightness and light, pulsating, hot life. There’s something sickening about it.

I want my skies specked with grey, quilted with clouds. And I want to walk a path dappled by shadows. I’m a creature of the cave, of the cove. I like mornings and evenings. Murmuring moments, soft light, a sun that peeks rather than glares. The dynamic of rising and falling. The sanded down edges of awareness.

It’s the middle of the hot day with its stinging, focused light that drains me of purpose and energy.

The medieval monks called it acedia. Spiritual sluggishness. What we think of as depression but in the context of Christianity. An affront to God. A sin. It’s against God’s order to be morose, to succumb to sadness and sloth. God designed us to be happy and productive, to work and laugh through the day.

Not lay on a futon and stare at the ceiling. Luxuriate in the feeling of a fan blowing cool wind against your sunbaked skin. Watching possibilities disintegrate and plans collapse.

It’s more than being unable to work. It’s not just laziness. Or procrastination. It’s not believing you should do something but you’d rather not do it because it’s difficult.

Acedia is when you deeply inhale the inherent worthlessness of all things. You become incapable of caring about what you do or what happens. And so you do nothing. Not out of a need for rest, but out of a dull contempt for existence.

You turn away from God and your fellows, and you lay fixed on your futon. The day drips away without progress. You’ll have to go to your 2nd shift job soon.

It’s one of those early afternoons in a day that seems to take up your whole life; until it’s over and then it feels like it never happened.

Time to go to work. My body will be there but my soul will be elsewhere.

Author: The Empty Subject

Born curmudgeon

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