In Remembrance Of All The Things I May Never Be

Submitted into Contest #140 in response to: Start your story with the narrator or a character saying “I remember…”... view prompt

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Inspirational Speculative Creative Nonfiction

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I remember the last time I had spoken to her with far more clarity than I do the first. It's a funny trick life plays on you, the way it blends the good memories all together into one indistinguishable blur, and yet, the bad stand out like the blood from a beating heart dripped onto the crisp white snow. This particular bad memory was neither the beginning of my story, nor the end. It instead served as a complexing, unending tide, wearing against my newly built faith. It is those moments I struggle to reconcile with. The anger that I hold close, that flows through my veins and makes me feel so powerfully raw, is something that I know is dangerous to my soul. But still, I cannot deny that it feels good. I find myself slipping into daydreams of her withering in misery, crying herself to sleep, alone, with no love, and it makes me feel good. I know that it is toxic, and that the mature thing would be to move on, and wish her well, but I cannot deny the seething anger at her betrayal that comes attached to my humanness.

In so many ways I am so well put together, the picture of a man whose heart is full of love, who wants to fill the world with good. And yet, in the shadows of that mostly pure heart, I still find myself dancing with the shadows within from time to time. I wonder if all men suffer from such duality in their souls. Violence and chaos were commonplace in all phases of my life up until the last 5 years. They brought me to my breaking point, but the irony is, it was the violence that had in the end made me so very gentle. But still, perhaps the evil I had touched left its mark. Perhaps I was cursed, destined to continue on, the modern-day Jekyll and Hyde. 

Those painful memories, the ones that stirred chaotic emotions came and went in random intervals within the folds of my mind. For the most part, despite the odds, I had become a good man. It was a necessary transition to save my soul. Curiously, as much as I like the imagery of concepts like "demons" and "devils" I am not the least bit religious. I have no problem with religion in general, most of the people who practice it have their hearts in the right place. Unfortunately, when you are someone who has walked the path for salvation, you get a firsthand look at how utterly obnoxious and hypocritical those "support systems" truly are. Perhaps it was more about me than it was them. This is something I've always considered. One of the things that has served me well in my life is my instincts. Like a shark I can sense when people are vulnerable. In the days of violence, it meant that I knew where to strike for maximum effect. In the days of atonement, it meant that I (over)analyzed every option around me. For me to march towards something, I need to do it with full confidence that every step I take is the right one. That becomes very difficult to do when people are preaching flimsy mantras like:

"God gives his hardest battles to his strongest warriors."

As if there is some divine old geezer sitting on a white cloud somewhere looking down at me and thinking:

"That one there! he's my strongest warrior. Test him."

When people say things like that, I can't hold back the laugh. It's not that I want to offend them, or change their beliefs, but the way some of these people deliver their ridiculous biblical musings with such a stone-faced look of serious intent on their face tickles my insides. In truth I envy them, to be that singular minded about the existence of one universal truth seems like a blessing to someone who has walked through every corner of this earth and has yet to find something to believe in.

I do not limit my disdain for cliches to just Christianity either. I hold Spiritualism to the same snobby standards. There are so many toxic, survivalism, guru-for-profit bullshit mantras out there that it makes anyone the least bit lost and vulnerable easy pray for their "fortune cookie message" market schemes. It never ceases to amaze how quick dishonest men (and women) will capitalize on those suffering from a soul affliction to make a quick profit. Famous "Gurus" and TV Evangelists are all alike. Wear a nice suit, and have a nice appearance, because if people look at you and think they have a chance to be you, you will sell your message. It never dawns on them that what they're selling is fake, and that they actually seriously hurt the people they try to "help." Over time they actually begin to believe in the bullshit they preach, and there is NOTHING more dangerous than a man with a dangerous message who actually believes in what he is selling. These people teach you to be "better." Better than the other people who aren't buying this message. All of the toxic mantas they preach are poison, leeching away at goodness in individuality.

"I am this" and “I am that."

"My purpose is great, and everyone else is just average. I am strong, and they are weak. I am spiritual and therefore I can be a judgmental asshole and you have to take it. Because I bought this course and reposted this meme so I am holier than thou." 

What. a. crock. of. absolute. shit. 

But what do you expect from a man in a $5,000 dollar suit preaching to you that you can change the world. The audacity is astounding. And to their credit, these courses do change people. They teach them to be less like themselves and to emulate other successful people around them. As if some ludicrous game of "Monkey-see, Monkey-Do" will reverse their fortunes. If the process of saving yourself entails layers of armor to make you ok with pretending to be someone else, then what the fuck is the point? Desperation is a stinky cologne.

5 years into becoming a better man, and I still don't have the answers. I wish I did. What I am learning is that we all have different answers, and those answers lie deep within ourselves. You can't buy the keys to unlock those answers, and no one has the ability to sell them to you. You already own them, but it takes hard work to find them. People talk about walking a "path to enlightenment" but it's more like a maze. There are obstacles, distractions, paradoxes, and impossible questions around every corner. There is no universal map, there is no guide, there is only you. I often find myself wondering if I took the right turn. I know that I have the capacity to love, and also the capacity to hate. I know that I am capable of both great violence and great compassion. I know that negative emotions like anger, and sadness are parts of being human, and the vulnerability they embody are what keeps me connected to world, but in excess can become a maddening toxin. I certainly cannot claim to understand the way, but I also know that I have done my best to navigate and learn as I go. When I think back to the memory of her, once I am past the vindictive anger and the bitter taste, I come to one concrete thought. I am not capable of loving, or receiving love from one single human, and so instead of choosing not to love, I have chosen to love the world. I hope at the end of the maze, that is how I will be remembered. If not, I would prefer to not be remembered at all.

April 03, 2022 17:54

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07:08 Apr 14, 2022

Powerful words. I love the transformative element to your writing. You show some interesting cynicism but there is an ultimately an overriding optimism, which makes this piece uplifting to read.


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