For the three decades he has existed thus far the only methods of internal conflict resolution he has known are brute force, endless rumination, self-depreciation and seeking refuge in the mis-perceived safety of his own mind. Beleaguered by self-generated suffering, he has spent his life consistently misinterpreting social cues and interactions, poring over the facts, after the fact, and reaching ever increasingly erroneous conclusions propelling him to heights of indescribable paranoia. His overactive imagination, already a playground for the fantastic, horrible and fantastically horrible, was allowed to run rampant when faced with ambiguous circumstances and open-ended conclusions. The only logical route for him to take is to lash out at life with anger, leading to shame and embarrassment.
Thirty years of negativity has left this man drained and alone. Although he finds himself surrounded by people, he finds himself unable to truly connect with those people. Desiring a fresh take on life and a chance at happiness, he decides one day to seek a way out of his spiral of desolation. A chance encounter with a book on eastern philosophy leads him to a practice which promises to help him pierce the gloomy veil and see life for what it really is underneath the false narratives.
He sits down in the exact fashion his teacher prescribed, not in search of any spiritual answers or dogmatic blueprints for happiness but as a way to silence his mind. Patiently yet in an admittedly uncomfortable position, he sits back straight, assailed by muscle pain from the unfamiliar posture. His legs first howling against the position then screaming, eventually escaping to sleep in resignation. A tiny wisp of incense smoke curls around his head in a comforting halo as he, eyes closed, attempts to accept his mind as it is; wanting to achieve happiness through a directed insight. The promise of equanimity looming on the horizon.
Immediately, habitually, he takes up arms against the onslaught of hundreds of disembodied voices from the recesses of the oft poisonous chasm that is his subconscious. They vie for his direct attention, imploring him to cease his pointless quest. Distorted faces, their cackling kinetically powered by the swinging pendulum of thoughts he has repetitiously attempted to freeze in its arc, command the projection screen of his mind. They tower over him as he makes his stand in a once comfortable corner of his consciousness. Behind dark heavy lids he can only sit and watch as the pendulum struggles to restart each time. No succor for the weary mind.
Amorphous entities oozing ubiquitous malevolence step over each other to claw to the forefront of his consciousness, their faces and figures shifting ceaselessly through a nightmarish kaleidoscope of gruesome forms tormenting him as they move forward, hoping to gain control and drive him to further madness; or, at least keep him imprisoned in the hell in which he already lives.
Desiring nothing more than internal silence he screws his face up in a distorted mask of anger and screams all his energy into this black abysmal wind hoping at the very least to startle it to silence. But to no success. His screams echo off the walls of his mental prison, doubling back in a gale of hopelessness leaving him physically drained and mentally defeated.
Nevertheless, he wants to believe there’s peace… needs to believe it. So, resigned to the omnipresence of the din, he lays down his weapons and chooses instead to listen to the chorus, desperate to find resolutions to their maniacal pleas.
He listens to surfacing memories which belittle him at every step. Repressed memories bare their wretched faces as his inner critic screams that he’ll never be good enough. He listens to ghostly echoes of past traumas, physical and emotional, as they resurface wanting nothing more than his regression into complete depression and desolation. Mental mortars paint the night sky of his mind a vivid and hellish blood red, illuminating a grisly backdrop of destruction he caused during years he spent pursuing liquid happiness. Previously resolved childhood traumas reemerge and charge to the front lines in attempt to amplify the already deafening onslaught, demanding their voices once again be heard. He attempts to garner them all with full attention while a maddening incessant loop of shrill music spins on the skipping Victrola in the nauseating undercurrent of his thoughts. He tries and tries to understand their pleas, knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt that fixing their problems (his past problems) is the key to the happiness that has been eluding him.
A young man sits quietly in a dark room, still as a statue minus the quick fluttering of closed eyelids and the solitary tear running down his cheek. On the surface he gently weeps as the war in his head wages on. Internally this man is a roiling ocean of emotions.
Inside the war rages on. He bawls sympathetically as he tenderly embraces the child he once was. He screams at the young man who selfishly made all the wrong choices early in life until the chords stand out on his neck and spittle showers from his lips. He rushes to the aide of fellow Soldiers who bleed profusely from shrapnel wounds as they collectively attempt to understand the exploding vehicle that vaporized a friend and caused so much carnage and confusion, forever altering their emotional landscapes. The ethereal remnants of a war pointlessly fought. High test fuel pours into the engine of his runaway mind as he cries for global civil and political injustice, the cruelties of man, ecological disasters, a society out of touch with the planet that sustains its life. He mourns an uncertain future for the beautiful children he helped usher into this world. He desperately empties himself of all remaining emotional energy until all that remains is the mere husk of the man there once was.
Still the onslaught presses ever forward. Every attempt to assist the voices seems to provide them the needed kerosene to continue burning. They rage and burn until he becomes enveloped in a putrid miasma, choking and gagging on the smoke of regret and remorse, sadness and despair.
As he reaches a point where he will most certainly choose to accept misery, wear his morose sadness like a thick blanket and choose instead to sleep for an irreversible eternity, a tiny pinprick of light pierces the thick cloud. Barely audible amidst the booming cacophony there comes a recognizable and familiar voice. An answer he has had all along mercifully whispers to him on a faint breeze:
‘The past is an unchangeable tapestry woven in a pattern you are powerless to change; yet those instances need not control you still. The past is the past and will always be so. To attempt to change it is an exercise in futility. Those demons will bleed you dry if you dwell on them, they want it so. They thrive on it. Accept the road you’ve traveled as the one you’ve traveled; the potholes and pit stops not set backs to be endlessly mulled over and circuitously dissected but lessons, teachers along the journeyed path. Transgressions acted both upon you and by you not to be definitive of who you are but to be forgiven lest they burn you alive with their fires of shame and torment. Accept life as you’ve lived it; not one to be rewritten but embraced. Blaze new trails as you continue to learn and grow but refuse to be imprisoned by past missteps. Accept the kindness and good intentions manifest in you and believe that you are more than just a passenger in life, you are the master and commander. Take charge and live damnit.’