I will forever associate spring, not with the Final Four kind of March Madness, but with an up-close-and-personal encounter with crazy. This since, in March of 1990, I legitimately lost my mind in an over-the-top kind of way, encountered an insanity that ended life as I knew it.
I was teaching English at Oral Roberts University and suffering through spring break when the clearest crumbling commenced. In Oklahoma—the branches still bare but budding–I began obsessing over trees and branches and the potential messages they brought—their effort to lead me elsewhere—to another realm, an alternate dimension, parallel to the world around me.
I wanted desperately to go there, and that longing ached me into action, muscled me to bring branches indoors and decorate my walls with them. I was suddenly aware, acutely aware. The sculptural nature of bare branches stunned and staggered me.
In my mind it was a sacramental action—an effort to access the bare bones of reality—reality stripped of ordinary distraction—the holy hollow at the center of sacred—the still small point of an otherwise dizzying world.
It was that space I longed for, that place I wanted and was obsessed with seeing, feeling, tasting, touching. I brought branches indoors in an effort to recreate that space.
However, in addition to this, I felt compelled to tear up the carpet in my rental apartment’s living room, to strip the floor clean and access the concrete beneath—a more solid scaffolding on which to stand.
So I stayed up all night and utility-knifed my carpet into carry-able strips, stood a ladder beside the dumpster, climbed rung upon rung and deposited my former floor within.
A rug literally ripped out from under me, I was hospitalized the next day at a state psychiatric facility, where I walked the halls and fingered the walls for weeks, as all around me sentences bloomed into branches, branched into sound, into music, into color, a dazzling display of crazy.