Shadows

Knocking comes from the basement. It always comes from the basement. Of course horrible things can happen in broad daylight with lots of people around. But that isn’t expected. Horror is supposed to be confined to the dark places, to when we are alone. Hence, basements. See also, under beds at night.

Perhaps if we could see the monsters, they would not be terrifying. It is, after all, the unknown which frightens most of all. If the monsters were in the light, they would lose their power altogether. Vampires burst into flame in the sun. Werewolves change only at night.

The knocking continues. It is after midnight and dark outside. Inside, all the lights on the first floor are on. Surely that will keep away whatever wants up. The basement, the attic, all places where we put things forgotten. Or things we would like forgotten. Things we think we don’t need, or things we don’t like. So naturally that’s where the monsters live, among the things we want gone but cannot bring ourselves to throw away.

It’s more insistent, just on the other side of the door. What has been forgotten that now demands to be remembered? What is it that was ignored, cast out, with the hope that it would stay forever buried? Perhaps some behavior society says was not nice, or maybe a desire the world scoffed at.

The doorknob jostles. To barricade or open? Barricading is obviously the safer path. But taking the safer path is what brought us to this point. Getting rid of all that scared us, putting it into the basement, it has festered. Now it is knocking. What further violence must we commit to force it back down where it belongs?

Or we could open it. What would we see? Our monstrous self, revealed in the light. Coming face to face with all we have denied, would we ask for forgiveness? Would we get it? Or would the monster destroy us? There is only one way to find out, but opening that door… No one really knows what’s on the other side. And that is the source of our fear. We have created the monster, and now we fear what it will do to us because we don’t know.

If we had been rejected and locked away, we would be angry. Thus we imagine the monster will destroy us out of anger. But we don’t know. We never gave the monster a chance. And now it demands one. Open the door. Let in the light. Face what we have made. Nothing worse can be done to us than what we have already been done. We are the monster. We made ourselves that way. Open the door.

Ink Flows

Ink flows as I try to make sense of it all. Every minute of every day contains an unsolvable mystery. It is the clash between wanting to understand and the realization that there is no larger tale to be told. They mystery is why do I think there is a question, much less an answer.

There are the stories I tell myself to put my life into some sort of narrative structure. They are unrecognizable by others, even those who appear in them. They tell their own stories about those events. In some of the stories, I am the hero. In some, I am the villain. And in many, I am merely a minor character, playing a walk-on part. All of these stories are true. And all of them are misleading.

Then there are the stories I tell myself to escape from this world and live in another. These stories are false but never misleading. They contain whatever the reader wishes to find. Fiction tells us about the world as we hope to find it, or as we fear it might be. It is our world, but only if we have the courage to make it so.

The ink flows and invents meaning and truth. It transforms the blank page into the sacred text. It tells the story of lives we do not lead, but think we do. It does not matter if the words are any good. They represent our attempts – futile though they be – to understand. Or maybe it does matter, and that is just another lie we tell ourselves.

The universe cares about none of it. It sees only moments, no grand design. The ink flows, but only from us. Only for us.

Winter, with a Voice

They say it’s going to snow tomorrow.

“Who’s they?”

Will you shut up. I’m not writing that kind of dialogue right now.

“What kind of dialogue are you writing?”

Shut up! I’m not writing any kind of dialogue. I don’t need you, or any other voice, for help with this. I just want to talk about snow.

“Oh. Got it. Sorry.”

Okay, so… Tomorrow it’s supposed to snow. There is even a blizzard warning up for the afternoon. It’s almost enough to get my hopes up. But I’ve been disappointed so many times, it’s hard to get too excited. I know we got some snow last year, but it still didn’t feel like a proper winter.

So far, the change in our winter weather feels like the biggest personal impact climate change has had…

“Oh. A political post. You haven’t done one of those in years.”

It’s not a political post. I’m talking about winter.

“Yeah, but climate change is so charged with partisanship these days.”

Hmm. I suppose you might be right. But this isn’t about politics. Just that I worry about not having proper winters anymore. We never got a lot of snow around here, but when we did, it stuck around. Now we get melts in January and February. During my favorite season. It’s depressing.

Anyway, sorry the repeated interruptions. Sometimes the voices get restless. And if I haven’t done any writing for them in awhile, they get really restless.

Back to winter.

I have always found peace in the snow, in the cold of winter. The world grows quiet, still. Sound is muffled. It’s a time for introspection, for rest, for regrouping. It gives reasons for drinking hot tea while curled up under blankets and cats. A season of long nights, beautiful skies, and twinkling lights. It brings a softness and peace to the world. Without its pause, it feels as though the world will never stop. It will just keep going and going until it wears itself out or tears itself apart. Winter is our chance to step back and consider what really matters.

So even thought I might be let down again, I still have hope for snow tomorrow. Hope that we might get a little peace. The moon needs something to reflect off of, after all.

“That was nice.”

I didn’t ask you.

Grateful

You know the voice in your head that tells you when something is a bad idea? My voice is apparently a late sleeper and only chimes in long after I’ve already followed through with the bad idea. It is almost certainly asleep right now. And since it’s quiet, I can do whatever I want, such as post this little meditation. Later, when I can’t sleep, we’ll all know what’s keeping me up.

On Thanksgiving, as thoughts turn to gratitude, I’m reminded of how thankful I am for suicide. I do not expect many to understand this, but suicide – or rather the thought of suicide – is a source of comfort. Knowing that the possibility of escape exists reduces the horror of the future. There is consolation in knowing that if it stays bad – or becomes worse – there is a way out. We are not trapped in this life, this world. We can take control of our own fate, rather than waiting for the world to end our misery. This is no small comfort. This awareness also makes it possible to make it one more day. I can give the world more time precisely because I know I can cut that time short. Knowing that I can end the pain whenever I want gives me some reason for trying just a little longer.

Our society generally treats suicide as either immoral or an irrational act or, paradoxically, both. The suicide threatens our view of life. Perhaps it is not as good, not as desirable as we want to believe. It is not enough for only some to love life; everyone must share in – and by sharing, confirm – that love of life. The suicide threatens to undermine our (often uncritical) view of the value of life.

Yet the suicide is not offering a general condemnation of life. The suicide declares that their life is not worth it, not that no one’s life is. The act of murdering others is a judgment on the worth of their lives, but the suicide only makes a judgment for their own life. Of course we may disagree about their estimation of their life’s worth, but that is made from the external perspective, not the internal. But the internal evaluation is the one that matters. For I am the one who must live my life; no one else can do that for me.

Taking away the possibility of suicide then, is to take away the comfort it offers. The knowledge that I am free to make a different judgment on my life makes it easier to hold off making that final judgment. Those who absolutely reject suicide, will reject this notion as well. But that rejection, that desire not to contemplate suicide is already sufficient to avoid the fate of the suicide. The judgment of the suicide is irrelevant to them, and not something to fear. The value of an individual’s life, to that individual, can only be decided by that individual. The suicide’s judgment, then, has no bearing on your judgment. But the reverse is also true.

The hope then, offered by suicide, is merely the knowledge that tomorrow can be the last day. So there is nothing to lose by seeing what today has to offer. And the moment it all becomes unbearable, finally, there is an escape. Until that moment, perhaps there is something that might make it better.

Teiwaz – Warrior Self

The rune is a simple arrow pointing up.  It signals the spiritual warrior, the energy of such a warrior.  Thus did it become, in my mind, the warrior self.  In this sense, we are all spiritual warriors.  We all do battle with the self.

The hardest fight is with the self.  Overcoming your impulses and your own doubt is the only challenge that really matters.  Wrestling with God is easy by comparison.  There is nothing anyone can do to you, not even God, that can be more hurtful than what you can do to yourself.  You know your biggest fears, your deepest doubts, more thoroughly than anyone else does.  You know them from the inside and can use them against yourself in ways others cannot even fathom.

It is a solitary struggle.  Try as hard as you might, you cannot escape yourself.  And all the help others offer can do nothing about the nagging worry your inner self can bring to bear in opposition to you.  At 3 AM you have no one else to help you fight for yourself.

Even if you win, the challenge is always waiting in the wings to be rejoined.  Every setback risks an “I told you so.”  And yet, without the fight, without the willingness to wrestle with the self, what is left?  What else would we have?

Life is about pushing forward, about bringing something from nothing.  We begin as nothing and struggle to make something.  It is against the self that we must work.  Though we fail, it may be enough to know that at least we did not give up.

83.7 Percent

“Well, that’s most of them.”

“How is that most of them?  There are still a bunch of boxes on the truck.”

“Yeah, but this is more than half of them.”

“Most isn’t just more than half.”

“Yes it is.  What do you think it is?”

“It’s…  I don’t know…  Most.  Like, nearly all?  Certainly more than just more than half.”

“So is 60 percent most?”

“No.”

“70 percent?”

“Look, I don’t know.  75 percent maybe?  Or 90 percent?  It’s not a hard and fast number.  I just know that it’s more than 51 percent.”

“You’re crazy.”

“No I’m not.  Ask anybody.  They’ll tell you that most is more than just 51 percent.”

“Talked to everyone, have you?”

“Of course not; it’s just common knowledge.”

“How is it common knowledge if I don’t know it?”

“Well, maybe you just missed that day in school.”

“I repeat, you’re crazy.”

“Well, then, if most of the boxes have already been moved, you shouldn’t mind getting the rest yourself.”

“Ha, ha.  Nice try.  Let’s get back to it.”

“That’s what I thought.”

Summertime

The sun hung high overhead in an otherwise empty sky.  The air was still and heavy with heat.  He made his way down the street looking for some sort of reprieve, but there were no trees and no obviously open businesses in which he might seek shelter.  The sun seemed determined to melt him.  As the sweat dripped down his back and off his forehead, he became convinced it would succeed.

A single car drove past him, kicking up dust and making it even harder to breathe.  He hated the world at that moment.  There was nothing about it that was good.  Nothing he could think of, anyway.  Something cool, something wet.  He didn’t want much.  Just something that could break up the oppressiveness of the day.

Despite his willing it, no cloud appeared that might produce rain, or even hide the sun for a few moments.  All he could do was keep walking and hope he might come across something to provide some relief.  Above him, the sun continued to beat down, refusing to show even the slightest mercy.