I feel, sometimes—and it is a feeling never more immediate than in this on-the-brink space of immersion in a book—as if I might go whirling away into the ethers.

And I feel as if, were that to happen, I wouldn’t entirely miss myself.

Since I was little—the kid who was perhaps inclined to see and feel more deeply than many of my peers—I’d thought that it was the natural way of things to walk a fine line between nuts and not. How easy, I thought, it would be to take one wrong step…the one that would cause us to slip off the slick bank and plunge into the swirling waters.

I’ve been through a lot since those days. I’ve seen the strength and resilience of the mind—mine and others’—under circumstances that would have made that whirling-away more than understandable. Desirable, even.

But some days, I’m not so sure.

Some days, that stalwart steadiness won’t stand close examination. It doesn’t want to be jostled. Or tested. Or challenged. On those days, I am the fragile writer, and uncertain of my place in the real world.

Sane in the quiet, that solitary sane-ness, isn’t quite the same thing as sanity tested in life. Suddenly assailed, those truths of which one was so certain seem frail and nebulous. The racket in the head is very loud. The ground isn’t so sure underfoot. That flyaway place seems uncomfortably close enough to touch. And no cup of tea, no kind word, no person living or dead has the power to help you pull yourself back.

To live in reality when unreality is so present and so extraordinary…it’s difficult. And sometimes it’s damned scary.