The Nihilism of Doubt

At the age of four, that unredeeming void first emerged, opened itself above me, not necessarily in the sky but nonetheless overlaying the pungent blue. Then, I was in the front yard near the Filbert tree that I never did attain the courage to climb. I don’t recall fearing it.

It was bleak, blob-like. Somehow despite the purity of its darkness, it seemed to shimmer. The void expanded in a slow bleed, and at its full breadth, I heard a faint whisper, a toneless one coming from within it. These words impressed themselves upon me:

“Everything is nothing.”

Then with startling abruptness, the void dissipated as if a nervous daydream. The spuriousness of that experience would’ve caused me to have written it off as such had that void not returned several more times, in each instance gaping at me on a non-descript day, cutting like a strobe of dark through the brightness of living.

I’m terrified of a few things, anxious at many more. However, that morbid maw of nothing has never stirred me, even in the worst of times. It ought to. Else I fear I might perish before the warmth fades from both the muscles and emotions that drive me.

Thought of the Day

An apocryphal definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” On that basis, sanity would be variety of expectation. Perhaps there is no psychological value in this conjecture, but thinking this way might keep you from getting stuck in a rut.
 

Falling To Peace

*

Oh, you, star in decline:
What has become of your shine?
They built you in the heavens
But forgot to give you wings.
Now you plummet like us earthly things.

Oh, you, star in decline:
Why do I dream you are mine?
My wish will catch your flame
As you fall upon your grave;
I may just be so brave

Or foolish all the same:
A rose by any other name . . .

*

The Parable of the Gem

 
In an ancient woodland that bordered a burgeoning empire, a beautiful and obviously precious gemstone could be found lodged high up a giant fir tree. Anyone who approached below could see the gem glittering in the sunlight from dawn until dusk. However, none dared climb up after it, for the locals told of a curse that befell any intrepid pursuer: “Should someone reach the high branches that held the gemstone, they would be transformed into a common songbird, and no known method could change them back.”

Some enterprising folk concocted and executed other methods aimed at freeing the gem from its perch; others attempted to knock the tree itself down; all to no avail. So, for a long duration it remained only an object of forlorn gazes.

Eventually, an animal trainer hit upon the idea of using a hawk to retrieve the gemstone on the notion that a bird could seize it without succumbing to the curse. This man captured a wild hawk, and after month upon month of trial and error, using shards of glass as a stand-in, he was satisfied that the bird of prey would pursue the gem with haste.

However, the man had been unable to keep his sessions a secret, and a few of the other locals caught wind of his efforts. Therefore, on the day he set out to dislodge the gemstone, a small throng of “curious” men and woman (who of course vowed not to interfere) came with him. Judiciously, the man with the hawk also decided to carry with him a weapon, just in case.

Unfortunately, the outcome of the hawk’s effort did not accord to plan. It did on its second pass reach the heights of the great fir and grasp the glittering prize there. However, halfway into its descent, the bird began to shimmer in a magnificent fashion and cycled through a blinding array of color. The assembled men and women awed into gaping and had to shield their eyes from the intense illumination.
When this stunning phenomenon died away and every present eye cleared of it, the throng found the hawk nowhere in sight while a very surprised looking man had appeared within their midst. He wore tattered clothing and was disheveled in many other respects as well. This new person was rightly terrified. His eyes darted around, and his body moved in fits and jerks, indecisive as to what was a threat to him or what a reasonable person in his current situation ought to do. All other mysteries aside, the men and women around him deigned to engage the one apparent ripe opportunity for inquiry: he had some large object in his mouth.

“He’s got the gem!” someone shouted, and once-restrained humanity began to collapse in towards the stranger who was still too out of sorts to mount much resistance. A flurry of arms and hands snaked over him and constricted his movements. Many fingers pried at his jaws, jarred his mouth open, and removed . . .

A simple grey stone.

The greedy hysteria broke and released its victim. The man in tattered clothing crumpled to the ground, covered his eyes tightly, and wept. His former tormentors turned their fervor toward the landscape to scour it for any sign of the gemstone which a quick glance could confirm no longer was high above the forest floor. The man who’d trained the hawk called in vain toward the trees for his avian protégé.

After a brief search, a pair of the more empathetic members of the once maddened seekers of fortune turned their attentions back toward the man who’d (from their perspective) appeared out of thin air before them. By then he’d composed himself somewhat though he remained fairly bewildered and watched the goings-on around him with cautious curiosity. The pair asked him who he was, where he’d come from, and whether he was a wizard or a warlock. He admitted not knowing. They queried him farther but his memory failed him over and over. The only question he could answer was: “What is the last thing that you remember?”

He answered: “My life before now is a total blur except for one thing. I know that as I child, I was chided for my ambition. It was then that a voice, soft but stern (perhaps my mother or my father), told me that some things belong to the earth, and some things belong to the air. Then there are some that belong to both. Those are the temptations one must ever avoid.”

The two listening to him, failed in their own words at responding. What could they say or do then? For, in the wake of these strange events, what they valued seemed to be all but forgotten.