I was a self-absorbed child. Grasping for the steering wheel to follow my own route, disregarding others’ inclinations. The need to exert control over all aspects of my life was dizzying, and losing the reign was not an option. How could people treat themselves so lightly whilst doom mounted inside of me?
I had always expected things to happen for a reason, to pan out. I was fixated on the need to uncover meaning, yanking out the plant to inspect its roots. But introspection should be moderated; the past can submerge you into an abyss, causing you to obsess over every minuscule mistake ever made. This need to exert power beyond our control is natural, but it should serve as a reminder that the residuum of the past is only floating in our memory. Facing the future requires courage and a surrender to the greater forces at play. This terrified me.
I learned that meaning can be deceptive, gratuitous even. Sometimes there is no date to analyse, nothing to scrutinise with a ruthless hand. It’s harder to accept that things can occur arbitrarily, outside our zone of influence. It means accepting that sometimes life is not card-carrying an all-important message or lesson. It must simply be lived.
This left me disillusioned for the longest time. Did this utterly devalue some of our actions as wholly insignificant? I was rattled to the core, forced to reevaluate everything I had believed. My bearing towards life hardened. I no longer took painstaking precaution to map out events down to the minuscule detail. I relinquished the reigns of control, letting a bizarre and inevitable panic seep in.
I was in a bad frame of mind, perpetually in a state of perturbation. Life manifested itself as a suffocating, behemoth wave intent on drowning dissent. I was trapped in a quagmire of meaninglessness.
It was liberating at first, to act without a care in the world. But all actions carry consequences. I became estranged from people and left isolated with my innermost thoughts. I was fragile and brittle, and bitterness set in. I resented the inequalities of the world, yet resigned myself to their existence. What was to be done, after all?
It the end, both extremes were utterly unhealthy. I was happier believing I had some control than relinquishing it completely. We are all individual entities, capable of carving a path in the sedimentary plain before us. I don’t have a final inspiring message to close on, only this: no one deserves to be haunted by something so decidedly outside of their control, buried in the realm of the past. We are fundamentally dynamic creatures, constantly moving forward and altering our future, if the past is anything to learn from.
(Featured Photography: Joel Robison)