We sometimes see them coming, but not always. They usually don’t move on us in predictable ways. Problems can approach from any vector and when we discover them our personalities have ways of dealing with them, or not.
I know I’m not alone when I say that I’ve been pushed right up to the edge where I’ve had to struggle infinitely to keep a toe-hold on my sanity and my life. I’ve had my mental armor chinked away piece by precious piece until there was nothing left that seemed to be worth holding on to.
Behind me and breathing down my neck were things I once had control over and things no one ever has control of. To my sides were things that closed in to stifle the breath of my soul. Before me were more problems that hovered like an unfathomable darkness waiting to swallow me up into an unknown oblivion.
One problem can easily exacerbate others. Walls close in and the light begins to fade. At some point reacting is moot. Sure defenses against one problem crumble against others. Tribulations crowd out every bit of advice from those around you. Judgment clouds with irrational and incorrect reasoning. The edge of the cliff before you is crumbling away and you can find no room to take a step back. If there were a bridge back that you could see you would surely take it. Any and every avenue of egress becomes enticing.
As options evaporate a countdown in progress fades into thought. As you frantically reach for those paths of salvation they disintegrate. They were viable still, even as they ceased to exist. You know this because of the way their gossamer remnants gave you another microsecond of stability in the tempest. Inevitably, you land upon what appears to be the final option. The mountain you’ve made of your life is avalanching around you. You look to your own hands and find an endless array of ways to kill yourself.
Your toes curl over the edge. They are the last vestibule of defiance you have left as the sheer power of everything against you ramps towards infinity. Your mind silently chooses from the gallery of ‘methods’. Your heart finds the way to your throat and you scream out your disdain and defiance of your own creation. Curses uttered in such distress are always monumental, yet no one might ever hear them until it’s too late to listen.
Your life has worn you down to this dull, bleak, simulacrum. Your body is a weakened shell. You sift your soul for the strength to take action. Your hands anticipate impulses needed to carry out the task. You lean out over the edge. Even this far out, angels hold you firmly. You are unaware of them but they are there. There is no strength left in your body. There is no light left in your soul, and no energy left to move muscle. Bone is bending but you feel nothing but inner pain.
All your problems are laughing at you jovially. Angels scream silently. You stare off into darkness and feel something there beckoning you to proceed. All your problems are plowing the ground behind you as they push you forward. Problems, in their ignorance, weigh your soul down greatly to near immobility. Reality checks out, if it’s still around to do so. You are in the death spiral of a ‘soul-quake’.
The reaper moves in eye to eye. His empty sockets are mirrored pools of black. In them you see the reflection of everything behind you. Standing there, amidst all that destruction, you see all the people you’ve known who have been to this edge and found the strength to act. Did they perhaps think that they were moving forward as they took themselves ‘away’? Whatever their stories might have been were erased by their own hands.
You can’t hear yourself screaming but you are. From the deepest corners of your soul those banshee notes are lost in the wind. The boney brow of the reaper frowns at you. The ground beneath you falls away. Pebbles are left between your toes. You hang there in midair. You go limp and sigh out a breath that you never took. At that point your eyes may well have been cried dry. You will not blink. You’ll want to savor the moment when death turns to leave you behind. Just before he disappears into the distance he will turn to regard you again. He’ll do it just to make sure you remember how deeply you looked into his sockets as you tried to do a job that was given to him by God.
I’ve been to that edge. Unlike many of my friends, I could not find the strength to send myself beyond. I will carry the memory of the screams that my soul made for the rest of my days. I cannot describe it in the least with any words and I can never wish it upon even enemies. There and back was a journey of self discovery. The mystery of what might have been if I had not returned is one I can live the rest of my life without ever knowing. So, you see, I have a story to tell. As for how it gets interpreted, is up to you dear reader.
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