Futility

Why do flowers bloom when they’re destined to die?

Suppose it’s just for a moment of sunshine and rain,

To wither and die only for the cycle to start again.

Like the songs that birds sing which fall on deaf ears;

Carried in the wind of long-forgotten memories,

Through trees without leaves on mountaintops to barren fields below.

 

Why do they sing,

When their songs will die?

 

Why does the sun still cast its light on blue skies?

For it too will go dark as the universe grows old,

To drift in eternal decay along the path where death strolls.

Like flowing rivers to dust turned in old years;

Where dreams lay in sad silence by headstones with no name,

In desolate graveyards and moldy tombs they found far below.

 

Why do they dream,

When their dreams will die?

 

Why do they continue to live with this lie?

A foolish belief of purpose and that of self-worth,

That somehow they matter in life as if not dust on this earth.

Like shifting shadows that lurk in deepest fears;

The cold presence of death unseen stands eagerly by,

To claim the lost we are for his domain of the void below.

 

Why do they live,

When they are destined to die?

 


Author’s Note:

Why do we live when we are destined to die?

That’s the question of the ages.  Are we an evolutionary blip in the cosmic time scale?  Perhaps part of a much larger community in the universe of which we’ve yet to find once we’re deemed ready by their council.  Or maybe we were made to serve a higher power, and our time here is but a test of our character and faith.  All things die, and in an ever-expanding universe (in theory), eventually the stars will go dark.  Our memories lost forever in the void, and the monuments we’ve built reduced to drifting particles along a wave of energy that once fueled life on our planet.  Does what we do matter, or is it all done in vain?

What’s the point when our memories will fade, and our names are forgotten as the headstones decay?  To pass beyond the great veil at the end of life as our bodies return to dust.  Life is a gift, and though we will reach the inevitable end one day, the path ahead still lies before us.  Even if there is just a moment of happiness or joy, it’s still a moment more than none.  A moment to be enjoyed in the short time we have.  A moment, or day, to be seized.  But not in pride of one’s self-worth, for all the riches in the world have no more value than the dirt beneath our feet.

Is it worth finding purpose and a meaningful life in the face of an otherwise futile existence?  Perhaps in time, I too may find meaning before it’s too late, and walk among those who are no longer lost.  Without meaning or purpose, we are but dust blowing in the wind, lost in futility.

N

Tying the Knot

Last month, my brother married the woman he’s been with for the better part of the past decade.  Rather than a traditional wedding, they opted for a handfasting ceremony without the formal attire.  It was different, but beautiful nonetheless.  What is handfasting you might ask?  Handfasting is a ceremony in which the wedded partners take each others hands while their hands are tied by one or more cords/ribbons, resulting in a literal “tying the knot.”  The term dates back to 16th/17th century Scotland according to Wikipedia.  Although this type of ceremony is usually associated with Pagan or Wiccan culture, it has recently been used more often in secular and even religious weddings.  Despite whatever kind of ritual or ceremony is chosen in a marriage, one thing remains the same: It is a union between two people, two lives; a lifelong commitment to one another that is born out of love, and the willingness to endure the better or worse parts until the end.  Lately, I’ve been thinking about tying the knot.  Not the kind of knot that joins two lives, but rather the kind that separates life from the individual.

“6 to 8 will do just fine;

But if superstition serves,

Loop the knot 13 times.”

That little jingle came to me as I was doing some fact-finding on hangman’s knots.  By now, you’ve probably figured out that the knot I’m referring to is symbolic for hanging, and in this case – suicide.  Unlike the term used for marriage where tying the knot symbolizes the unity between two people, tying the knot in this case symbolizes the path to suicide, and suicide itself – the spiraling slopes of madness, suffocation of life; and ultimately cutting off the lifeblood entirely for a very permanent death.  While suicide in itself is the instantaneous act of finality, the path to it begins at suicidal ideation and eventually reaches a point where acting on those thoughts take place.  Whatever the method may be, they all lead to the dreadful or fantasized irreversible act.  The only exception to the instantaneous part (unless a clumsy person misses their mark, doesn’t jump from high enough, or tied the rope to a beam that doesn’t support their weight), are the pills/poison not taken at a high enough dosage (carbon monoxide aside).  Unless some very lethal toxins are used such as cyanide, arsenic, or belladonna, chances are it will take a very uncomfortable while for the job to be done leaving the window of opportunity open to being saved, unfortunately.  Although the act (if successful) is irreversible, the path from the first thought to the final loop on the knot is one that can be turned away from.

Yes, my mind has been on the subject lately, and not in the best of ways.  I’m not proud to admit that, but it’s not something I want to hide either.  So what’s triggering these thoughts?  Perhaps at seeing the people around me moving forward in their lives, I’ve come to realize how far I’ve fallen, how utterly incompetent I am.  Perhaps I can only see a failure when I look in the mirror, a monster every time I close my eyes.  Maybe I’m tired of waking each morning to the same drab routine, stuck in a heavy haze of an endless daze.  Maybe I can’t seem to feel anything but a deep emptiness that yearns to be filled; one that no amount of alcohol, substances, and other desires of the flesh can satisfy – as they are all empty, temporary illusions of happiness.  It may be that life itself is not worth living, that I don’t belong here, that my existence was a mistake, that I don’t matter.

But I do.

And so do you.

The thoughts come swarming in at our moments of vulnerability, like sharks to the scent of blood.  Caught in the current of the maelstrom, it becomes difficult to break away from the thoughts that continue to pull the mind to ever darker places.  It may be impossible to find the light or a way out from all the chaos, if we keep looking down at the gaping maw of the maelstrom which continues to draw us in.  Look away from that dark place, and there may yet be a glimmer of light, of hope, or even an extended hand ready and willing to pull you out.  Then extend your hand and accept what has been given – hope, help, life.  It’s much easier said than done, as I am still struggling with this.  Before I continue, I’d like to state the obvious – that the causes and thoughts vary widely between person to person, as each individual is unique; and though circumstances may be similar, our headspaces are different.  What may be trivial for some can be life altering for another.  Regardless of the circumstances or the scenarios, one thing remains constant – losing the will to live.

Have I really fallen that far, or am I too busy measuring myself up to other’s standards?  Am I really a failure if I’m the only one who thinks so?  A monster still, if I’ve shown remorse?  Is every day truly as gray as I’ve painted it for myself?  Am I truly consumed with emptiness, when I also have love?  Is my life worth living now that I’ve put things in a different light, having broken my gaze free from the gaping maw of the maelstrom?  Yes it is, but it is usually not so simple.  Even if we can break away our thoughts from that dark place, we are still grounded in reality and all the struggles that come with it.  Thinking in a more positive light won’t make the bills disappear, or add digits to an account balance.  It won’t change the current housing situation, or relationship problems.  It can’t erase the scars of trauma, neglect, or abuse.  It will never change what was, or what is.  But, it is a start to what can be.

Rather than taking action on suicidal ideation, wouldn’t it be better to take action on life?  Sure, life sucks at times and we all know by now that it isn’t easy, but there are good times that can make the bad worth enduring.  Now, I can’t say be happy and enjoy life just like that.  That’s too unrealistic to do so suddenly.  Rather, come to acceptance with what’s been given – life, and come to acceptance with yourself, scars and all.  Only then will it be possible to find contentment and, dare I say, possibly happiness.  In all honesty, I don’t think it’s possible to do it alone.  I know I can’t.  Loneliness can lead to a point of emptiness, and there’s no better fuel for suicidal ideation than emptiness.  On days where I feel just that, it only takes something as simple as a smile from my child to take away that emptiness.

It feels funny to admit this, but I believe love is the only thing that can take away emptiness, or should I say fill the void where the emptiness resides.  I’m not talking about the kind of love that’s synonymous with sex, or the kind that describes the giddy feelings of butterflies when someone’s been met or the feeling of being “in love ” – that’s attraction, stimulated senses similar to that of hormones if not hormones themselves.  That’s not real love.  Real love is giving without asking for something in return, serving another without self-interest.  Real love is something that takes effort, putting all personal desires aside for the sake of the one(s) you love, and willing to endure whatever hardships may come.  It isn’t easy.  It requires sacrifice.  When that kind of love is reciprocated, it becomes mutual and with a partner, becomes what should be the foundation of marriage.  With my daughter, it’s that love which keeps me going day after day.  That love that takes away the emptiness.  That love that makes the hardest parts of life worth enduring.

With that said, I can safely say that she saves me every day.  Some days can be harder than others, and she can test my patience at times like all kids do.  Putting aside my own self-interests was difficult at first and still can be, but I’ve now found a sort-of balance between hers and mine (Some habits/addictions can be hard to kick).  No matter how deep I fall into the maelstrom of suicidal thoughts, or how intentionally reckless I can be with my own well-being testing fate in the process, or how depressed I get with current circumstances, I always manage to pull through because of that love for her.  She makes me realize that I do matter.  However, I’d be lying if I said she’s the only reason to stay alive, or the only one that can get me through this.  The truth is, there are others – family, friends, even a higher power if you believe, that can help.  Even though I continue to struggle with life’s challenges, and when I find myself staring into the darkness, one step away from going over the edge, it’s the support that I’ve allowed myself to have and love which keeps me from going over that edge.

Suicidal ideation will always be there.  A lurking storm of despair that will pull in anyone who dares to let their mind wander too close.  Though there is a way out of that storm, that storm never really disappears.  It’s easy to fall right back into the vicious current of chaotic thoughts, but if it has been escaped from once, it can be escaped from again.  Taking action on life, and finding that light, help, or hope can really make a difference.  The path from the first thought to the final loop in the knot is one that can be turned away from at any time.  It only takes a choice, and effort to act on it, although this is not easy.  With help and support, and most importantly – love, this struggle doesn’t have to be faced alone.  If none of the above are available, fear not.  Seek and you shall find.  I cannot speak for everyone, as the situation varies widely between person to person.  This is my tale to tell, and it is not over yet.  If you’re reading this and struggling with the dark thoughts of suicide, or tying that final loop into place on the knot, your tale is still being written and doesn’t have to end.  Don’t let someone else have to tell it for you.

Not everyone will agree with what I have to say, or my opinions on the matter, but to each his own.  With my brother’s wedding, I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of sadness even though I was happy for him.  While he has been with her for almost the entire past 10 years, it has been over 10 years since I’ve been in a relationship.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to commit, or even tie the knot in that aspect.  Perhaps one day I’ll cross paths with someone who will change that.  My birthday also passed recently, and that put me into low mood for the month.  Another year with nothing to show for my effort (or lack thereof).  You can see now where my thoughts mentioned above came from.  Though my thoughts have been on tying the knot, I’ve chosen not to take action on them.  I’ve chosen to endure the hardship and keep trying for a better situation, no matter how many times I fall or fail.  I won’t be tying the hangman’s knot today, and I’ll be making an effort to refrain from doing so tomorrow, and every day after that.  However, I can’t leave you all without a birthday song.  Please excuse my dark humor.

Happy birthday to me

Hang myself from a tree

Let the life drain from my

Body and end this misery.

N

Existence

Despair sits upon my head like that of a crown on a king, casting a veil before my eyes that filter out the colors of life.

Desolation hangs around my neck, with one firm hand that reaches into my chest, holding my still beating heart in its cold grip.

A billowing cape of loneliness envelopes me like a smothering blanket that gives no comfort, but only suffocation.

From a dark abyss extend the chains of doubt that are shackled around my feet, anchoring me in place with the inability to move.

Seated on a throne of failure atop the highest peak of the highest mountain, surrounded by barren lands, my kingdom of emptiness.

Frostbitten winds whip at my naked body as the bitter cold bites into the marrow of my bones and the depths of my soul.

The pain has faded long ago, leaving a dull ache of numbness that flows through my veins, as I pray for death to come.

“Come O Death, and spare me from the curse of my existence.  Take my lands, and fill them with the dead. Let the rivers run red with blood once again.  Release me from this meaningless life!”

Death appears beside me as a shapeless shadow, placing one hand on my shoulder as it leans down to whisper in my ear.

“No.”

 


Author’s Note:

I really don’t know what to say tonight.  Maybe this piece is thought-provoking, maybe it’s cheesy.  Obviously, the kingdom isn’t an actual physical land, but rather symbolic.  The message is pretty straightforward, in a way.  We’ve all been there, hitting one low after another until it feels like rock bottom.  Only then to find out, there’s more falling to be done.  Some of us want to be released from this life, which can seem like a curse at times.  It’s the easy way out, sometimes seeming the only way out.

Is it possible to cast off the crown of despair?  Remove the pendant of desolation?  Tear away the cape of loneliness?  Break free from the chains of doubt?  Rise from a throne of failure?  The answer is something we all find in our time.  Or maybe, we’re just meant to live a tormented life of a miserable existence.  You decide.

N

Doubt

Black

Are the stars

That never shone

In the night

That never broke

To bring the day

That never came

And the light

That never lit the way

Through the dark

Where there was no escape

From myself

Whom I never believed

In the dreams

That were never dreamt

And the words

That were never written

For the songs

That were never sung

From the heart

Which there was no beat

To the music

That was never heard

And the joy

That was never shared

For the smiles

That were never seen

By the eyes

That never opened

Out of fear

In which there was no fight

Of battles

That were never won

On fields

That were never roamed

By feet

That have never ran

Like wings

That have never soared

In skies

Which were limitless

Like the goals

That were never reached

By the kings

That were never crowned

On the worlds

That were never formed

Under stars

That were never born

Out of doubt

In myself

 

And a life

That was never lived

 


Author’s Note:

Doubt is something I struggle with, especially self-doubt.  Tasks or small challenges can become much more troublesome because of it.  Whether it’s doubting my abilities, myself at work, the words and stories that I haven’t written or finished, myself as a father, or even myself in general; doubt has affected me in a number of subtle and not so subtle ways.  It’s just another struggle that I fight daily.  I’m working on it though, working to overcome and plant myself on solid ground of certainty.  To have the confidence in myself and believe that I can do it.  I’m reaching for my dreams, but unless I can conquer the doubt in myself, I’ll never be able to extend my arm to its furthest reach and grab them.  Until that time, my dreams will only continue rain down as smoldering ashes around me.

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.  –  Suzy Kassem

I see the proof of that quote every day.

As imperfect humans, doubt is something we all face.  Do you struggle with doubt as well?

N

Where Stars Die

Look up on a clear night and see the stars strewn about the midnight sky

Pinpoints of light that pierce through space and time

Surrounded by the darkness where stars die

 

Burning in magnificent radiance with colours on a spectrum from red to blue

Celestial bodies almost as old as time itself

Countless in number they cast their light out on the universe

 

The sheer size of a star dwarfs even the grandest dreams

Yet in turn they are but just single grains of sand in an infinite sea

Forever drifting within the never-ending cosmos

 

Reach up on a clear night and touch the stars as they dance across the midnight sky

Twinkling as we bask in their old light

Destined to fade away because eventually even stars die

 

They burn throughout the ages with unrelenting force as their life slowly drains

Expanding and reddening as they come to an end

Finally giving in to exhaustion before death

 

Distances between stars so vast one can only see the light from the past as it shines on

Looking out on an unfathomable universe

With only theories born from a limited understanding

 

Speak to me on a clear night and wish on a star that shines bright in the midnight sky

It’s luminous glow yet to be extinguished

In the cold vacuum of space where stars die

 

A peaceful death awaits the average star as it casts away its outer layers

In a brilliant display of expanding clouds of gas

Planetary nebulae illuminated by a glowing white corpse

 

Lingering in existence a white dwarf can only cool over time until it fades to black

The cold hand of death tightens its grip

Squeezing through eternity until the light has gone dark

 

Search for me on a clear night amongst the lost stars in the midnight sky

There before you yet invisible to the naked eye

As realization sets in that even the greatest of stars die

 

A violent death awaits the largest stars as they explode in an extraordinary blast

Magnificent blossoms that outshine the galaxies themselves

Leaving behind a heavy heart of a dense neutron corpse

 

Or a deformity of space and time as the remnant of the star collapses upon itself

A singularity is born that swallows everything in its reach

Where even the light cannot escape only black holes remain

 

Take my hand on a clear night and let us sail through the sea of stars in the midnight sky

Let us sail toward the infinite horizons outside the law of time

Beyond the bitter cold of a doomed universe

Where stars die


Author’s Note:

I have always been fascinated by space, and the enormity of it.  There really is no word to truly describe how huge the cosmic scale is, short of infinite.  This piece is about stars, and how they too will die.  Not to be a pessimist or anything, I wanted to put it into a certain perspective.  Yes, stars are also born from the nebulae created by the dying stars, and it takes billions upon billions of years before the white dwarfs will go dark.  Even then, it’s all speculation and theories based on our own understanding of what we know thus far.  I left out binary stars (even though they’re very common) because they just wouldn’t fit in.

One aspect of this piece shows the known stellar deaths, in the form of planetary nebulae and supernovae, as well as their “dead” states being white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes.  Black dwarfs among other things were also left out as they are still theoretical, even though it’s hinted at.  We’ll learn more about our universe and the stars, as we continue to look up and out on our universe in the years to come.  More discoveries will be made as our technology allows, and we’ll have a better understanding of our universe.  Perhaps in time some of the known theories will be proven incorrect, but for now it’s what we believe or suspect to be true.  This piece reflects on those suspicions, theories, and beliefs of what we know.

The other aspect has to do with looking up at the stars.  For as long as we have walked the earth, humans have always looked to the stars.  When I am outside at night, I tend to look up as well.  I find it gives me peace, as any problems I may have are put into perspective.  Other times I wonder, or let my mind wander.  Regardless of what runs through my mind, looking up has always been calming for me.

Going back to the piece, at the end it talks about sailing beyond a doomed universe.  Could it mean the physical universe that exists outside our planet, or something else….  What do you think of this piece?

What do you see or feel when you look up on a clear night?

N

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