I am underwater, floating.
My eyes are closed.
For a brief moment, I do not see the bright lights humming above my head, glaring like a thousand suns.
For just a split second, I do not hear the unbearably loud noise--the screaming, the wailing of infants, the echoes off the walls and floor.
For a moment in time, I do not feel anything on my skin--no itching from the chlorine, no freezing cold air blowing in from the vents, no rough, scratchy towel that desperately needs some fabric softener.
The smell of bleach and disinfectants has vanished; the taste of chlorine and salt in my mouth is gone.
I can't breathe, but oxygen is a small price to pay for such peace.
It's still--quiet and calm with no disturbances. My senses can't function here, and for just a moment, I think about how nice it would be to have a little place to go to all the time where it is just like this. Where there is nothing. Just me alone in a big empty space. Some would call it torture, but for me, it is a safe haven. Not heaven, of course, but it isn't far from it.
But I can't stay here forever. Ignoring the fact that I cannot breathe, I am surprised at my sudden lack of creativity. The big world just a few inches away, loud and bright and scratchy and noxious, is what provides me with my art. My stories. My science. My information. My history. My life.
It is unbearable, and I wish I could stay here, thinking underwater for all eternity. But I can't. I won't.
I push myself out of the water, and once again, I am engulfed in noise and light and goosebumps-down-my-back cold air.
This is the price of being an artist. And it is well worth it.