“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and evil
After a decade of sadness and woe, I feel as though I have been staring into an abyss. Not with the noble intent of destroying evil, but with the sense that all-enveloping hopelessness is all there is to life. I ceased to fear and dread death. Death is an end to pointlessness and irrelevance.
I know that if I turn around, if I turn my back on the abyss, there is life. There can be happiness. The misery can – if not end – abate somewhat. There are people who love me, but not in the way I want. There are things worth striving for, but I feel destined to fail at them all. The only future I can foresee is loneliness and despair.
The monsters I fight do not kill. They merely steal life. Each day of hopelessness, futility and despair is a meal to them, they cannot get enough. Even the days when I rail angrily about it feeds them, because my uselessness prevails. I accomplish nothing. I do not advance. I gain no life, no energy, no manna. I devote my life to meaningless pursuits that come with no risk and no reward. Video games, MMOs, Netflix, Politics.
My bills go unpaid, my work goes undone, my clients are cheated. I have talent, but no reason to excel. Hopelessness prevails. The evil I face is like a dementor, sucking the life and strength from my bones, leaving only a drooling husk. The more I think about turning it around, the more I am reminded that I have already lost a decade. Opportunity has tired of knocking on my door, and may soon forget my address altogether. I feel sometimes as though I have missed my boat.
But let me tell you a secret. That’s what the monsters want me to think. There is a spark, somewhere that cannot be extinguished. Like a firefly in the forest of Fangorn. Like a distress beacon in the bottomless vastness of space. The monsters can’t find it and even if they could, they cannot extinguish it. The best they can do is distract me and hope I will not see it. But what they don’t realize is that the darker they make my mind, the brighter the spark is – and that much easier to find.
Do I believe that there are actual evil beings that seek destruction and ruin for me and humankind? Yes, actually but that doesn’t change a thing. The answer I need is in that spark, that will to go on, that drive to prevail. I am now old. I my days are numbered (but they always were, really). I may not be able to fan this spark into an ember, the ember to a flame, and the flame to a bonfire. But I know this. NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, it is there. There is always opportunity. My soul just needs the nourishment to seize it.
I used to blame God for letting me get here, and not lifting me out of it when I cried. But the truth is that I didn’t seek Him while I was descending this infernal ladder, so it’s not His job to pull me out. He gave me the spark, that’s all I need. I hope (yes I have found some small hope) that someday He will be proud of me for climbing all the way out of this personal Hell.
I want this to be understood.
- My wife did not put me here.
- “Liberals” did not put me here.
- Having financial burdens didn’t put me here.
- My kids did not put me here.
- Reverse racism did not put me here.
- I put me here.
I may winge about some of those things from time to time, but ultimately I am the one who saw the face of the abyss and surrendered. I am the one who sat down. I am the one that stopped rowing. And I am the one who needs to pick up and move on. No matter the cost. No matter the pain.
“Pain is always there, because life is freaking painful, OK? But suffering is a choice.” – Pennsatucky, Orange is the New Black
I have a feeling. A notion that energy will beget energy. That if I can muster enough wattage in a day to propel myself even an inch forward, I might build up the momentum to keep going. I dare dream that I might even have enough time left to achieve some measure of greatness. To not die a pauper clutching a worthless, broken guitar under an overpass.
This hope, this Godly spark, lives in all mankind. Even in atheists. You may think it comes from random chemicals or Gaia, or the universe, but it is there. You can go on. You can choose to use it or not. It’s your move. God is with you. Who can stand against you?