Storms Chasing Shadows

Last night, I was driving through some surprise inclement weather that seemed like it should’ve been an identified tropical storm. In my standard shift tin can, I navigated with the stunted light from my high beams that allowed me to see what clearly looked like a river current of water running down the road. I crouched over my steering wheel so that I could periodically wipe my windshield of the accumulating fog. The backroads of the Florida panhandle look like every horror movie you’ve ever seen, especially when it rains; farm houses and fields of corn. The sky, illuminated by lightning, a gray sinister torrent of windblown rain and debris from the surrounding forests. My heart was pounding and I kept repeating “just take one mile at a time, one mile at a time”. There would be no one to save me if my car got stuck in a hole. I kept checking on my breathing and acknowledging the reassurance I tried to give to my own psyche. Every time I just let go to be completely, unreasonably calm, there was another part of me that was afraid this would jinx it. Another part of me wanted to just pull over and wait for it to pass, but all of me knew this was a test.

I’d had a particularly detached day. A tormenting kind of meaningless, other than me observing myself and being distraught by what I realized. If not for personal goals and/or other people, life would be mere existence. One of those observations was of a cat at my granny’s house. The poor thing lost most of both ears and is blind in at least one eye. He’s awfully pathetic with bleached black fur that looks more like orange in some places. As I backed out of her driveway, he tracked the sound of my tires over the fine sand and I saw the cloudy film covering his cornea. What for? Why is this poor cat living in this god damned misery? To keep eating and shitting.

Also, this past weekend, my friend asked me to help her with gardening, which I was very keen to do. But somehow I ended up on a weeding rampage. Instead of planting even the first herb, I yanked up all the rhizomes that held the bundles of grass together. I wanted to be sure they wouldn’t grow back. I wanted to aerate the soil and make room for the new roots to take up that space. The garden bed steamed in the sun and teemed with all sorts of critters that had made homes of the old landscape. By nightfall, they’d settle into new homes below the new planters and stepping stones that now took up that same space.

When I started driving home, I felt unresolved in my quest to express what this feeling was. It is overwhelming sadness with a hint of inevitable doom. The loss of purpose leaves you feeling like there is no point to it all. Imagine, suddenly, the one thing you had your eye on: the house, the marriage, the baby carriage, is just another pass time. A beautiful one, but without love, not the same. I’m afraid once you see behind the curtain of what most people consider love, you see the hurt that’s bound to happen when you are vulnerable with someone new. You’ll have to learn things that are uncomfortable and deal with them honestly and at some point it becomes all about sacrifices. The goal is to keep it going, the vow, the lifestyle, the myth. The story you create together.

The importance of having a goal is that it gives life meaning. To give meaning to life is to love the self so much that the experience is filled with it. With no goal, a person relies on attention from some external source of validation. When this source of validation disappears, the person is left with the void of meaning. I’m in this transitional phase where I’m finding meaning in different areas than I’m used to and it’s not comfortable. But neither was driving in a torrential downpour at nearly midnight on the backroads of bumfuck. Today I feel a little more rugged and maybe even a little more grateful for that dance with death. For a moment, my adrenaline locked me in the moment and my only goal was to get through it. I felt alive. And the fact that I’ve historically felt most alive when I am afraid is probably what led me to the wrong kind of relationship in the first place…

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