*****************************The Existential Nihilist
This went on for years, beginning when she'd been killed, that day, that moment he found out, when his world ended, collapsing into a meaningless heap of pain. If only he'd been there, he believed he could've prevented it. He berated and tormented himself over and over, a million times a day, accompanied by anguish and tears; he was caught in the undertow.
His one confidant, a woman he'd known over twenty years, tried to convince him to let go, to focus on the present. But it was no use. In fact, matters only got worse. He would feel anxious for no reason, followed by heightened phyical energy, as though his body wanted to go out to experience life once again, the way he used to, the way they used to. Memories of acts of betrayal and abandonment of others would well up spontaneously, causing him to cringe in agony and sadness, tears would fill his eyes and he'd wail his sorrow at what he'd done.
Suicidal thoughts plagued him, tormented him, offered to relieve his misery if he but surrender. He found himself in a place he never believed he'd know. Emptiness and loss and self-loathing mingled like strands of soul DNA. One day, he found himself in the garden, a garden that was in ruin from neglect, and stood perfectly still. It was all gone, every pretense, every illusion, every hope. He couldn't help it--he dropped through a hole into another dimension.
The world slowed way down, almost coming to a standstill. Barriers rigidly held in place as though the source of life itself dissolved, albeit not all at once. There had been years of conditioning. The physical postures and emotionally-connected attitudes which characterized his imprisonment lagged behind like ghosts haunting him, grooves etched into his psyche. He entered a world that in many ways had passed him by. But he knew that without loss; he assimilated it, that awareness, and transformed it into a sober maturity. In that single act of recognition and acceptance, he stopped trying to be who he wasn't, he let go of his dreamstate, his delusion of control. It was though a weight had been lifted. It wasn't that he stopped caring, it was that he realized there was nothing he could do now about any of the past; his only choice was to eat it, the good with the bad. Those times of self-expression and experience rose up, tottering but real, weak and dusty from their long incarceration, from their determined denial. At once he entered a clear space, clear and still and fearless--no anger, no hatred, no remorse.
This gave him strength. The strength that comes from realizing that had he been free at the time of his tragedy, it may not have happened. That state of mind, that relaxed openness to the world coupled with the absence of any need or reason to comply with superficiality brought him back to the present. But not the present he formerly knew, no, this present had the stamp of approval, not from any credo or criterion of faith, not from any dogma or guiding set of principles; on the contrary, their complete dissolution and abandonment was the curtain of OZ pulling aside. The rules, roles, and rituals that had controlled his life, moderated his decisions, channeled his energy disintegrated like a cardhouse in the wind, leaving what was left--him.
"I am," he said softly in the midst of his fallow garden. But there was no joy in the saying of it, no euphoria buoyed him. Nonetheless, he felt at peace with himself for the first time in memory. The anger left as though a switch had been flipped. He saw how it had worked against him. How feeling oppressed had worked against him. How deconstructing others had worked against him. He was free, done with windmills. He knew percisely who he was, and no one could tell him any differently.