By Joseph Casarez
Imagine walking through the yellow-brick road; you’re hopping, skipping and don’t have a care in the world for the world or the problems in it. It’s just you and this feeling of careless joy. You’re off to see the wizard who will dispel the irritating problems that you have accumulated from past actions; financial debt, conflicts with friends and family, self-deprecation. This fantasy may last for days or even two hours. The Emerald City is always in sight, but never reached, you realize there is also a fog chasing you; you are afraid to have it envelop you because it brings you down to a dull center. When you grow tired and have no energy to run and skip, you succumb to the fog.
In the fog, people seem frightening and there is no joy and fun. You feel sapped of vitality, unable to pick yourself up. It’s difficult to understand because it all of a sudden; it attaches itself to you like a parasite sucking your life force. The yellow-brick road crumbles into the river of Styx, trudging through the mud. What people say becomes suspicious and filled with malicious intent. You’re not thinking clearly and rationality sounds foreign to your brain; the fog seduces you into slumber for what feels like a century or two.
This is what it feels like in my mind. Between Oz and Hell, lies a fragile Purgatory where there is a rigid structure of stability; but like all rigid structures it falls eventually and the winds of Oz swoop down to carry me into the wondrous castle of forgetfulness while the mists of Hell desires to wrap its tendrils around my being. Where did the normal me go?