My Torment

My torment is what I wish to speak of here. I am a cursed man, and that which plagues me lies in the hearts of all the people around me as well. The curse is nameless, though we try to frame and capture it with our science and symbolism. It has been known crudely for millennia, and yet still it has never been known. And tell me please, to whom can I turn to find cure for my ailment, while doctors and priests remain as insidiously poisoned by it as I am? It approaches from behind, silent as the night, borrowing for mask the cacophony coursing through my mind, and, like a parasitic annelid, numbs its chosen spot before its fatal bite. I do not know how best to describe it; in fact, many have already attempted to do so, resulting in humanity’s greatest works of art. I do not presume myself to be as great as the least of these, but my attempt is not in pursuit of greatness. It is merely to transfer the jarring vibration of my silent knowledge from its iron casing out into the world in an effort to diffuse its destabilizing effects. The turbulence of my recent life has done much harm and much good, too – perhaps much more good than harm. But I am still too immature to be able to love my sorrows as unconditionally as I love my joys. In time, I sense, I shall come to view both with the same passive empty stare, but until then, I cannot help but inhabit the ever-dilating oscillations.

The lack of ripeness of which I spoke earlier is the cause I attribute to my style of writing. I have only just begun my journey here, and so, I still speak using my own voice, according to the instructions my teachers gave to me. That this is significantly limiting is clear to me, but it seems the only course available to my young and naïve heart. So, in telling stories I do not assemble masterful works of fiction with my untrained hands, but I simply open up my soul and allow it to stain freely this empty page. And in this manner shall I describe my terrible anguish, much as I despise to do so. Label this as a confession if you like, that is not far from the truth, though I have no guilt or regret for that which I do in my sleep. This sleeper’s greatest desire is to wake from his anguished slumber, but this is nevertheless his greatest challenge as well. The poison coursing through my veins is of a tranquilizing nature, such that it not only pollutes my vision but seduces my latent lethargy as well and keeps me gripping the silken sheets of my bed with whitened knuckles even as my soul attempts desperately to rise up and out. The technological comforts of this acceleratory age are burden more than aid. What has become of the noble virtue of discipline, that resilient steadfastness in the face of sloth, and diligence, that which alone endows the sacred power to circumvent the ever-arising curse of the flesh? I watch as the world degenerates day-by-day in a sullen sunken pessimism when overcome by this sort of mood. I am not always like this; there are loftier times when perfection can be seen even in the worst of crimes. But the strangest paradox is this seeming inconsistency I observe within my mind, that I can sink to such lows and look upon the world with such distaste and disgust, while remembering days of blissful acceptance and cheerful optimism. How does one reconcile these poles of the mind? Or, are they simply irreconcilable, and like the two poles of a magnet, destined to resist one another unfalteringly even as they are seamlessly woven together in union in the same rock?

The disease with which I am afflicted is that of a certain weakness of mind and an inability to domesticate the wild bull roaming free within me or even to discern whether such a goal is worth pursuing. I have always wondered about the leopard and his spots, and this is a doubt which remains unanswered. The hardest burden for me to bear is that of a doubt unanswered. And of these there are many in my heart. But the most wounding is the one of which I’ve just spoken, a question that is constantly hounding me: can I ever escape the clutches of patterned behavior? The difficult thing in the process of opening one’s eyes is the fact that more and more vileness is revealed until one seems to be hopelessly drowning in it. It is never hopeless, and this I know to be true – my faith in this surprises me most of all in its firmness. But what use is faith and hope in the secret knowledge of a better tomorrow if my today is filled with the accumulated misery of my yesterdays? A great debate that rages on with violent fury inside me is whether or not I should even seek change at all. And not only as a way to escape this growing darkness which paradoxically accompanies the opening of my eyes do I ask this question. There is even a metaphysical side to it: the existential sigh of meaninglessness that moves me to utter indifference about the manner in which my life plays itself out. So, not only am I unsure about my ability to change, but I am also unsure of there being a final point to it, a permanent and lasting happiness earned through these efforts which shall not fade for all eternity.

My greatest fear is that I should reach a mature age and realize that all the dreams of my youth were born in childish naivety and died at the hands of a harsh reality, and that all the efforts exerted during that turbulent stage have amounted to nothing but continual relapse to the patterns of old. I can see clearly that change is possible and I have in fact proved this in my short life through various bursts of growth and refinement. However, frequently I find the fruits of my labors crushed to sickening pulp as I helplessly revert back to an ancient mold, cast back in the days before I had the ability to choose. I observe older people around me and can clearly see within them the ashes left by the very same flame which once burnt also within their souls and fear nothing more than to meet that same fate.

The escape from the wheel of habit lies in the gift of willful choice and the exercising of this miraculous ability every moment of every day. If I was able to see clearly the full spectrum of options available at every moment with a clear mind, there would be no problem of patterned behavior or the relapsing into patterned behavior. However, my enemy is chronic distraction which I wear like a veil and which my habits don for camouflage. It is evident where the path to purity lies, but walking that path again lies in maintaining my awareness. For as soon as there is a lapse in present wakefulness, all the forces of the past surge through my poor heart like a wave too mighty too contain and with a wrath too terrible to endure, flattening all the sand-castles I have labored over to the blistering of my palms. It is time and patience that is required with these efforts that will allow the sun to bake the sand into rock and turn the fragile into strong, fastening my resolve to the ground and severing finally my link with history.

And so must I endure my torment a little longer still before I am freed and awakened. I guess I can only shrug at it with unyielding obstinacy. What else could I have expected? It seems that I harbor a hidden belief that life owes me better than this – a truly unfounded idea. If I have learned anything through observing life, it’s that this is a sick and cursed place to be born within. Hence, I can only anticipate misery and despair in being alive here. However, I have given up fighting between my pessimism and my optimism; it is too fracturing and splitting a way to live life. I am vying for wholeness and as such I resign from judging the world as a nice place or a nasty place, even though I have just done so. In a thoroughly wearied voice I shout out at it all: SO BE IT!

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