I am at a complete and utter loss. For words, direction, meaning…anything. What once came to me so surely and steadily, as rain falls to the ground, now must be found. Sought out as I stumble through darkness, the light of a single flame guiding me forward.
The easy light of the sun which once illuminated my life has been replaced by a flickering candle, timid, feeble, searching for fuel, but alight nonetheless as shadows threaten to swallow it whole in one satisfied gulp. It almost seems easier to let the flame die out and learn to live blinded in the dark. But fear holds me back.
Everything seemed so straightforward long ago, I had yet to realize the difference a decade makes. A decade of discovery, doubt, and an unhealthy amount of positivity. Yes I said unhealthy.
I was so utterly convinced that life, while complex and varied and occasionally a bit of a
jerk, was inherently and innately well intentioned. That the energy which keeps us all conscious and aware of ourselves and each other was eternal. That the symphony of electrical currents flowing through my brain would only cease with death. I was so sure of my own ability to exist and be happy that I never questioned how I came to be like that in the first place. I was aware that I came from a place of privilege, that my life was woefully devoid of pain and tragedy, and that I was surrounded by uncommonly thoughtful and self-aware people. But humans have a knack for missing the obvious even when it’s right in front of their face.
I never fell. Never scraped my knee as my bike wobbled in eternity and then tipped over. Never heard the crack of bone as I slammed to the ground from a high up branch or the edge of the roof. I was never surrounded by laughter and pointing fingers, voices mocking and condemning me for that which I could not undo or understand. I never failed. And I should have.
I thought, with childish naivete, that if I denied myself failure, I would never fall.
But despite my best efforts, fallen I have. Every bone in my body aches with pain. My scrapes, cuts, and wounds bleed profusely, and my head rings with confusion and splitting pain as canaries waltz with stars in circles around my head.
I am so utterly broken that I find it hard to believe I was whole to begin with.
And yet I feel like a liar. By what right do I lie here broken, smashed upon the floor? There are those who have been broken many times over in far more painful ways than i. People who pick themselves up and forge ahead despite their ceramic nature. And all I did was stumble. I tripped and could only watch helplessly as I smacked into the ground and shattered, pottery shards on the floor. And what did I trip on? I can never be sure whether it was a crack in the floor or my own two feet which led to my downfall but I can tell you which one I had control over.
I was no masterpiece, yet I still mourn the loss of her innocent beauty. It was all so much fun to watch her. It brought me joy to see her smile, to watch her twirl across the room, skirt rippling in the wake of her sunshine. She was spring. Sunshine splashed in her hair and bare feet in the dirt as she sang a sweet song that no one knew the words to but she and she alone. I was younger then. She looked perfect from afar, and i’m sure she thought so despite what she may have told her friends and lovers. Sometimes our gaze would meet, but I never knew how to answer those piercing eyes. They burned with questions I did not know the answer to.
But she and I haven’t seen each other in many years, or perhaps we never met at all.
I will never see her again. At least not like I imagine.
If she were to find me now, scattered across the floor, i’m sure she would rush to my aide, all kind words and overwhelming desire to help those in need. She would search the room, gathering up every last piece and fit them into a semblance of who I once was. Slowly, carefully, she would pour herself into me, filling up my cracks with sunshine until I shone with light. But no matter how carefully she searches the floor for every last scrap, no matter how slowly and thoughtfully she pieces me back together, and no matter how carefully she fills me up with her light, just to the brim but not one drop over, she cannot make me whole.
Only I can do that.
Only I can control my feet.
And yet despite my best efforts, which were neither meek nor small, here I lie, scattered upon the ground.
I do not know how to put myself back together.
I do not want to be seen, broken, fragile, a failure of the seemingly easy task of remaining whole
But I see it happen everyday. Broken people march on, despite their fragile nature. Bits and pieces held together with glue and string. Some are chipped, poked with holes, even missing a piece here or there, but still they move forward. Imperfections do not detract from ability. Failure does not impede success, and privilege is not an indicator of health and happiness.
Perhaps I too can begin to glue myself back together.
But I will never be whole again. Chances are I will forget a piece of myself, lying dusty underneath the couch. Maybe the breeze will blow my dust away to be lost forever on the wind. Or I may simply put myself in all the wrong places, a mismatched puzzle, an incomplete picture.. How am I to know where I belong without an instruction book?
Even if I somehow managed to recreate myself seamlessly, I do not think I would fit inside.
I am a different shape now.
I think I will fit better if I build myself a new house.
Perhaps pottery was meant to be broken, perhaps it is a miracle that any piece stays whole, interned in silent museums for us to wonder how it got there.
Life, kind or cruel as it is, played little role in my fall. It was not the cracks in the floor that were my undoing, but my own two feet, to focused on placing one foot perfectly in front of the next to notice that the floor underneath was imperfect.
I could say I was misinformed or mislead, but that would only belay the reality of my situation. I cannot fix every crack in the floor. I must learn how to step over them.
In my rush to be perfect, I missed out on imperfection. It’s not that freckles and clumsy feet make us perfect in our own ways, but that our search for perfection eliminates the noticing. And it is the noticing that makes life worth living.
How can I appreciate what I have if I don’t know what it is?
I am beginning to understand those cracks in the floor as my hands dance through the darkness, searching for pieces of me.
The cracks did not lie to me, I did.
The floor did not trick me, I did.
The feeble light of my flame did not deceive me in the dark, I did.
Life did not fail me.
I am still convinced that while I may be complex, varied and occasionally a bit of a jerk, I was and am inherently and innately well intentioned. But aren’t we all?
As I piece my broken self together, I begin to see that I am more than who I thought I was, more than I am capable of comprehending.
We march on, pottery people, broken, fragile, and searching
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