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Pain?

 short story

Dedicated to the feeling itself and to everybody who has ever felt this way…or will, one day

She sat by the fire wrapped up in her father’s wintercoat and her own solitude. The golden red flames danced silently, embracing one another every once in a while, playing soft and alluring games before they slowly faded away, giving life to dying embers. She had no more tears to cry, it would have been pathetic anyway…so she just entertained herself with old clishés and was just about to happily drown herself in self-pity. Ironic as it may sound, she even enjoyed it in a way…

Sometimes she thought that she got over it and managed to laugh at the whole thing…heartache can seem to be pretty amusing from a given distance, pain is derisive and absurd enough to laugh at if you have the ability to distance yourself from your own grief. There were also times when she was inhibited by hurt and confusion to such an extent that the word ”heartache” gained a new meaning in her mind. Heartache, what a clever expression, it truly feels like as if something had been ripped out of you, as though your chest remained empty and broken, still unbearably heavy and burdened.

”Isn’t that a bit too much already?”, the voice glew in the dark. It was a girl, ageless and soft, with big deep eyes. She recognized her almost immediately, has caught glimpses of her in mirrors many times before. She didn’t talk, no need for words when you’re talking to yourself.

“You will have a completely different outlook on things when you get rid of this shell”, she went on. “And believe me, in a couple of centuries, you will.” She seemed calm and relaxed.

“Hey, so far I’ve been constantly told to seize the day… How can I possibly hang on to a veiled promise of the abysmal future then?”

The question was understandable.

“For heaven’s sake, please try to realize that time is just an earthly dimension. What you call past and future is in fact the same magnitude.”

“Ok, don’t get into all this sophisticated crap on the contradiction of time and cause and effect; had plenty of elevated discussions on this subject matter in the past two decades. Here and now, I feel shitty.” The last two words sounded like rain, and she couldn’t decide whether she felt relieved that she could finally utter them or it just added fuel to her own misery.

“How would you describe what you feel?”

“I feel pain.”

“What does this pain do to you?”

“It broke something inside me, it made me feel insecure about everything I’ve ever believed in, it distanced me from my old dreams and the secure little hideaway those dreams offered me.”

“Welcome to reality.” There was no irony in her tone of voice.

“Now I can’t seem to find the way to those dreams anymore.”

“Don’t you think that it’s high time you experienced a strong real-life alarm like this?”

“You mean I’d been blindfolded by my own dreamworld?”

“You said so, I didn’t.”

“Does it make a difference anyway?”

“Safe it was, wasn’t it?”

“But if I’m deprived of my inner world, I have nothing to hold on to… I mean…”

“Hey, what do you mean, you little escapist? You’re not here to play hide and seek in the castle of your dreams, but to face intensive flesh and bone experiences.”

She gazed into the fire, but everything seemed so pointless now. For many years, she had those stories aligned in her mind, a self-defense mechanism for each possible situation. Now they were all gone, with no new inhabitant of the heart to take their place. No wonder she felt empty and lost.

“It’s not that I try to escape anything. I’m able to deal with reality, I take responsibility for everything I think and do, but I had something that was mine only. And now it’s gone…”

“Don’t you think it was worth it all, in spite of the pain?”

“Don’t tell me that I should be happy that I’m empty now. I know that the end of something is always the beginning of something new. Sometimes you must destroy in order to build something new, at least Kant thinks so…” she smiled.

“Well, I definitely don’t think that there is a border on the brink of new and old, destruction and creativity…these are just words, words to express the same force that defines our lives. I’d say it’s just a stage you’re in…And yes, even though these stages are not necessarily hierarchical, you should be happy that you’ve come to a waterfront.”

“Perhaps I’m on the brink of nothingness because the old has passed by and the new has not yet arrived.” The idea seemed a bit simplified.

“No, there is always something… To be on the way is just as important as arrival… If not even more significant… What you feel now brings you ahead.”

“I’d love to believe I love my mistakes and trespasses, but it’s not at all that easy…”

“Without them, you would never be the one you are now. And don’t you just love to be the one you’re? Ok, not now that you hate yourself and everything else too, but when you swallow your rage and see things as they really are. Don’t you just love all the beauty and decay you see, don’t you enjoy all the happiness and pain you feel, all the crazy nights and sane mornings? Don’t you see how they are all connected and never exist without one another?”

“I surely feel like a part of the whole then.”

“Not just a part of. You are the whole yourself, there is everything in you… Everything. And all these things are just connected, nothing ever in life happens without a reason. You may not understand it straight away, but sooner or later the veil falls from your eyes.”

“I knew that.”

“Of course, but now you feel it. That makes a huge difference. That’s what brought you here. To feel the wholeness you already know.”

Now she remembered how this truth suddenly dawned on her as a child ages ago, when the first pieces of the puzzle started to unfold. How she realized that it’s way too easy to make statements like “don’t jump the queue”, but once you have a body that is sick and tired, you still tend to fight with your elbows. A soul already knows all these things, yet it needs to materialize itself in a body to embrace the experience itself.

“This is the most dreadful and the most beautiful gift of existence. You will see that when you get rid of this body. Believe me, you will smile at your pain, and it’s not a sick goth joke now. You will see the whole in yourself, and the pain you encounter now will just be an integrated part of your entity…and the whole universe.”

She gazed into the fire again, to observe the passionate parade of the sparks once more before she would close her eyes. No, nobody could tell if they were dancing or dying, but it didn’t even matter anymore. Million rays of light melted in one, there was no beginning and no end to the pyre.

 2005

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