Very little has surprised me in the last few years. It has grown harder to get up every morning, harder to keep up with the little chores of life, harder to see anything more than a bleak outcome for my future… like a bleak negative inertia, my pencils grow stiller and dustier by the day. Relationships crumble. Lost in the darkness, I think few expect to find a light.
I don’t know when I made my peace with living that way. It must have been early on, near the moment my foot crossed the threshold to this old house I’ve known for so long. Home. No pain, all the comforts, every edge rounded off. After the white hot knives of failure, finally being away from negativity, feeling nothing felt okay.
I kept myself busy. I worked 40 hours every week and put everything I had into keeping one sinking retail outlet from going under. The other drones didn’t care, as long as someone signed their paycheck. And then suddenly I didn’t either. Sketchbooks sat without new lines, journals saw no new words. I worked, I consumed, I slept.
Time surprised me one day. My key turned the lock on a door I had first walked through a whole year ago before. And the man behind the counter who had directed me to his manager was gone, and the manager was gone, and two more after her. And the man who walked behind the counter and turned on the lights was me.
I have never felt such terror, such raw and powerful dismay, than the day that I realized I had lost an entire year of my life. My philosophy professor had warned us about existential crises. “Never me,” I remember thinking, ” I’m far too sure of who I am, I know the meaning of myself.” I never thought I would get lost. That job was the last bridge I decided to burn. After the first love of my life, after the friends who cared more than I realized, after the professors simply trying to get me to see my process in a new light, after my personal direction of choice in life, after my college, after the friends who had always cared for me like I was family, I found myself on an island surrounded by fires. The bridges I burned did not light the way, they were the way, and I had only created a world of smoke so dense I decided to stop looking for the light.
I’ve been taking meds and going to therapy for 4 months, trying to break through depression. I’ve had an easier time than most. I’m not better yet. I don’t know that I ever will be. But I know that the smoke is clearing. I know that there is light on distant shores. I know that the work is tiring, but new bridges are taking shape. There are skyscrapers on the horizon. I remember who I am. I can see with perfect hindsight the twist in the road that led me here. Some days I remember to take my eyes off of it and look forward. What I see inspires me, not like it had before. But I occasionally find myself drawing lines on blank pages. There is a force inside of me that wants out again, wants to flow onto the page with a ferocity I forgot existed. But its here now in these paragraphs, the first words I’ve written in such a long time. I am silent no longer. No more will I hold my hand back from fear of judgement or failure, not create because it might hurt. I choose to pick my pencils back up from where I left them. I choose expression as meaning, words and space as my vehicle.
The ending has not yet been written.