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15. To Be Gone

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This is another one of those washed out, all important, crucial moments in your life. Or in my life. But then again, you’re reading about it. This is another beginning that you’re going to have to remember because I might just relate back to it later. This is one of those important moments where something is ending while something else is beginning. This is important. Say it with me. Louder. This is important. This could be the most important moment of your life. This could be the most important moment of my life. Either which way, would it matter? It’s simply…important.

This is the end of something. This is the beginning of something.

Both of those statements are a lie. This is the middle. This is the one place where nothing else starts because we’re so set in our ways that we can’t start halfway through. Things have to be all the way over or there has to be a clean slate. You can’t start halfway. You can’t do anything halfway or you’re not doing it at all. Right? There’s no middle. There’s no in between. There’s no gray. No misty zone of uncertainty.

That too, is a lie.

That misty zone of uncertainty, that maybe, that somehow, the idea of – that’s life.

With me so far?

Or did I lose you at the start?

Or the end?

Keeping score? Keeping up? Staying awake? Good.

You won’t want to sleep through this. Why? Because this is the rest of my life. Why is this important to you? Because it could be the rest of yours.

You are here, in the now, in the always, in the ongoing which will eventually develop into something. You were here without being here. Because I am here. I am living this. You’re merely watching. You’re part of this as a spectator, on the sidelines, to shout ideas and opinions. To contribute your piece to the cause. What cause? I don’t know, but there’s always some cause floating around. There’s got to be a reason for the madness. Right?

Yeah. You just keep telling yourself that.

Get up, dust off. Look around. Where is this? Where am I? I am here, in the now, in the always and ongoing. I am part of the cycle, the system, the chain. Life. Death. Rebirth. Action and reaction, inaction, there’s all different types and classifications. But here I am. Now.

Stand. Look around. I’m still breathing. Cough up more blood. But it’s only further proof of being alive. Cough up more, doubled over, straighten up. Look around. Where is this? Why am I here? Does it matter? No. This is the now. This is now. Now is this. Now. Now.

Like a broken record my mind repeats the obvious. Like a worn out lullaby, I hear the facts  in my mind, reminding me why I’m here, where I’m going. The melody is timeless now, it doesn’t die, it merely improves with age. I can’t shake the tune – it’s been there longer than I have. I’m not always there, in my mind that is. Every so often, I step outside myself, out of my skin, and walk away. I’m not sure where I go, or why, but I do it.

Now.

I can’t get off of that one thought. I can’t get away from the present, the ongoing, the ticking clock reminding me that I’m wasting eternity. It’s ticking. Can’t you hear it? Tick. Tick. Tick. There’s no other sound in my mind except that ongoing tick. It keeps time. It keeps me alive. It matches with the beat of my heart. If you can hear one, you can’t hear the other. One is always stronger than the other. You can’t have both. Heart and mind. Tick.

I keep trying to think of how I got here but I can find no answer. No. There’s just this. The ticking. And the pain and the blood. There’s nobody else here. Nobody to blame but myself. I’m here alone. Bleeding and broken. And nothing to define what I am. Nothing to show for it. Pain. Nothing more. Just pain and ticking. The ticking to remind me that I’m alive. If the ticking reminds me that I’m alive, what’s the point in pain? The pain is the alarm, the more striking reminder. You can tune out sound – you can choose not to listen. Even when it’s in your mind, every so often, it’s possible to hit a button, make it fade away, drown it in something else.

Pain doesn’t drown.

Any attempt at such distraction only results in more pain. That’s the bottom line. There’s a bottom line to everything. There’s always a point, a moral idea, a restriction that plays the part of the villain but is really the true hero. It’s required.

I think about where I am. I can’t really remember how I got here. Why I’m here. But I am, in fact, here. Coughing up blood, bleeding all over. In pain. This is my life. This is where I am. This is the middle. This is where I come back to. No beginning. No end. Just this. The bleeding without explanation. Could you tell me what I missed? Fill me in on the missing pieces of the puzzle. I’m not sure what I’m doing here. I’m not sure if I should walk away. Or maybe I should run. Maybe. But it just hurts that much. I don’t know what hurts more. The actual motion of the body or of the act of leaving this. Even though this makes no sense; there is no logic to this place, it is stable. It is unchanging and simplistic. And it is here that I am. Torn by indecision. As always.

When enough time was wasted, I took the step. Every muscle in my body ached and screamed out as I did so, but I took it anyway. I took the steps and walked away from there. Away from the middle. Away from any sort of beginning or end. I moved out of the vacant space that I was in and walked back out into the open air, the free world. And I took my first breath, which could have just as easily been my last. I took a breath and kept moving, the mess that I was. It didn’t matter how I’d gotten where I was. It didn’t matter at all. All that mattered was that I was there. That I had come from something at one point and I was headed somewhere. The rest of the particulars didn’t matter to me. It shouldn’t matter at all. The only thing of significance at this point, or any point, is that I’m moving.

Does one necessarily need to know where they’re going in order to get there? Does it matter?  I mean – if you wander around idly for long enough, you’ll get somewhere, right? That’s what most of us seem to do with our lives, wander. You get up, leave any sense of stability that you might have, and you go out into the world and do. It doesn’t really matter where you go or why. You just go. The illusion is created that if you go a certain way, follow a certain path, a new outcome will be achieved. There is no new outcome. There’s merely a change of scenery.

Scenery is highly significant to any story. It sets the mood, tone…all that kind of analytical nonsense that the educated live by. You can spend your entire life behind books, behind bars…they’re the same thing if you think about it. Or you could spend your life living it. Scenery establishes who and what you are, where you come from directly influences where you’re going. Where you’re going is what you want to be, which is the first, theoretically independent decision that the average human being makes worth substance.

Maybe taking that first step is the end. Or the beginning. That initial movement that starts something new. That moves away from the past, or the present. The now. The steps that carry you through to something new. Somehow, I might be stronger in the end. If there is an end. If the end matters at all. I might not ever get there. Nobody might ever reach the end. We just keep walking. Keep taking that decisive step off the ground. And from there then what?

Anything.

You can go anywhere. That’s the glory of living in a three-dimensional world. In a realm where anything is in the grasp of the real. Anything can be labeled surreal but how much of it actually is? Surreal is just another abused word for kids who are too distracted to use a dictionary and learn its proper course. But that’s just me. Who am I to talk?

Just another distracted kid.

Beaten. Broken. Bleeding. Battered.

Look at that. Off the top of my head, completely without the aid of a thesaurus. I might have you at a disadvantage. Then again, I might have myself at a disadvantage. The cute, clever little idea that everyone’s supposed to believe in is to know oneself. With someone like me, what is there to know? I don’t care all that much either way. All I know is that I’m here. And I’m moving. I don’t care where. I don’t care how fast I get there. I don’t care how I look. I just know that I’ll find my way, I’ll get wherever I’m going. At some point. When I’m ready for it. Or when the world’s ready to have me. And that could be a long time from now. If ever.

Are you ready for this? The middle. There’s no beginning, no end. Only this. Keep with me. You have to keep up; I won’t recap the rules for you later. You have to keep up. Just like I have to keep moving. I cough up more blood, double over, straighten up. And keep going.

There’s no better time to live than now. That statement is debatable. It’s not that there’s no better time. It’s just the simple truth that there is no other time. All you get is this. And either you appreciate it and make the best of it, or you forfeit your chances, lie down and die. And me? Well, I know too many quitters. Joining the ranks doesn’t appeal to me all that much. Sorry.

I am myself. I’m my own person. My own leader and commander. I control my life. Nobody else. Not parents, not friends or teachers. The only person I can depend on is myself. And even that is debatable. A body fails. A mind is corrupted. How much can people truly depend on themselves anyway? I depend on myself, faults, flaws and everything, because I don’t have any other choice. Because I am lacking of actual people to depend on, to pull me through this. I have to depend on myself. What am I supposed to do otherwise? There’s no alternative. There’s life. Or death. And I’m much too young for the grave. Or so I keep telling myself. But that doesn’t mean that anybody agrees with me. They can find the time to beat me up, so maybe they think I don’t belong here. I keep walking, despite the pain. Despite how much it hurts to move or breathe. I look at no one. There is nothing worth looking at anyway. My eyes are following the drops of blood in front of me. In a pattern. I can’t figure it out. Yes, I can figure it out. It’s my blood.

I follow the path for as long as I need to until I collapse. I look around and here I am. In nothing. In rubble, in ash and dirt. This was a place. A building once stood here, stately and proud. And this feeble structure is all that remains. This is what’s left of years of work, blood, sweat, and tears put to literal use. Just this – the cracked foundation, bits of a roof that can’t hold back the rain.  I look around and collapse. There’s no use going on without a plan. And I don’t have a plan. I don’t think I ever did. I look around and collapse. That’s the simple truth. No sugar coating. I was bleeding from all over. I could feel the broken bones every time I took a breath. I tried to ignore it, take my mind away from it, but there was no avoiding it. This building was myself. I was as broken down and battered as it was. But there was a hell of a difference between it and I. This was beyond any hope of repair while I, on the other hand, was still in considerable working order. Working enough to keep breathing anyway.

I just lie there, taking in the dirty air. The dust and ash left an empty, filthy taste to it. I coughed a few more times, still hacking up blood. It wouldn’t stop. I wanted to laugh but didn’t want to risk the pain. It would hurt too much to laugh. I needed to hold onto my strength to breathe. I needed everything I could get. I was on my back, looking up through holes in the roof. Rain was seeping in, dripping down. I wanted to laugh. I held back and just dealt with it. This wasn’t particularly funny. I was dying. I could feel it. But I couldn’t get up. I couldn’t care. I needed a doctor, a hospital, any sort of medical attention would do. But I had nothing but this. I was stuck here, in this solitary moment, counting out my breaths, taking them in shallow swallows, one at a time, trying to preserve every last one. There was no point in trying. There was no point in living either, this would continue until it was over. Not this. Until I was over.

People can end. Things can’t.

They still teach all the wars in history books. Nothing completely dies out. Nothing of substance that is. Me? I’m insignificant. Just another statistic.

Breathe. Cough.

Can’t you hear it? The slow ticking. The coming end. Can you feel it? The shift in the spectrum, the loss of one as another is brought in. My passing marks no major event. It won’t be recorded in the history books. It won’t be passed on, remembered, or preserved. It simply is.

Cough more.

It’s slowing down. I can feel it. I walked all this way just to die. That’s the irony of life. But I did it. I got up and kept going. I didn’t just do it to say I did. They wanted me dead, there. But I wasn’t. They left me there to die and I got up and walked away. I was refusing their damnation. I would be at peace in my own separate part of the world. I was here because I wanted to see something more than the familiar Hell that I was in. So I got up, out of the dirt. And I pushed myself until I could go no further. And where did I end up? Here.

An abandoned, crumbling church. Out of all places. It figures.

Breathe. They’re turning into gasping breaths. It’s hurting more. It takes more effort to pull oxygen in. I smile, despite all else. In awhile, none of this will have mattered. I fought until the last. I wouldn’t quit. I wouldn’t give up. I wouldn’t lose to them. I stayed and fought like hell and even lying in the dirt, broken and battered, I got back up. The pain was unimaginable. But I was still here. For a few moments more, I was part of this now. This moment. This one.

Cough.

Countdown to oblivion. Not that I could count at this point. Such things don’t require a grand finale or a big deal. There’s no counting needed. No big fuss. Nothing to make a big deal of. This is merely the changing of the guard. I closed my eyes and lied in the dirt, feeling the cool rain drip down. It was relaxing in a way, the constant sound, the unwavering effect. It would be my last conscious sound or thought. The rain.

I had slipped off. But even in the state I was in, I could feel myself being lifted. And carried.  I was no longer in the dirt. I no longer hurt. And as far as anything was concerned, I wasn’t here. If you asked me just then, I’d tell you that I never was. One way or another. I was gone. And that was the point, the whole idea, my purpose.

To be gone.

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