If I Look Back, I Am Lost

I wrote most of this a few years ago, but these same thoughts have been creeping back into my mind lately (as these type of things tend to do), and I thought it might be worth sharing again.

There’s a quote from George R.R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire’ series that I’d like talk (or write, I suppose) about for a couple of minutes. It rocked me when I first read it, and it has stayed in my head ever since. Don’t worry. NO SPOILERS. Hell, I won’t even tell you who says it. The quote is this:

If I look back, I am lost.

This resonates with me in such a profound way. In my own life I find myself constantly afraid of what lies ahead—an emotional/spiritual wilderness where faith, hope, and love are still vitally important, yet refocused in such a way that the concepts themselves seem almost foreign. I’ve really been struggling with this lately. It’s not because I am conflicted about what I believe, or because I am afraid of the bed I’ve made.

Lately it’s been the simple realization of my own mortality.

My daughter and I walked through a cemetery a few years ago. We walked past hundreds of gravestones, burial plots, and concrete crosses. I read names on top of names. If only for a brief moment, there was a time when the world revolved around each one of these names. Everything mattered to every single one of these people. Each happy moment. Each loving embrace. Each dark night of the soul. All of it mattered more than anything had ever mattered before.

Until life ended, and none of it mattered at all—almost as if it had never even happened.

The realization of life invariably ending one day can be gut-wrenching. Everything that I’m reaching for right now will one day cease to matter, and every person that I have ever known will one day fade away.

There will come a day when my name will be said for the very last time—when the person that I am now, every dream, triumph, hope, and disappointment will no longer exist.

There will come a day when all that’s left of me is a name and a couple of dates etched into a stone.

If I’m lucky.

There’s a book in the bible™ named Ecclesiastes, and though I’ve walked away from organized religion, it remains one of my favorite existential crises to date. To borrow a line from Disney’s Beauty & the Beast, the tale that Ecclesiastes tells is a tale as old as time. These verses from the 3rd chapter have both haunted and comforted me for a long time:

For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.

I can’t read those verses without asking myself the same old questions.

Questions like:

What is life? Why are we here? Where do we find a purpose? Where do we find hope?

These questions are tough, and more often than not I’m not up to the task of working through them. I find myself wanting to run back into a world where every question has an answer, and every answer has a footnote.

If I look back, I am lost.

So often I find myself wanting to walk back into the arms of a belief system/worldview that I find to be patently absurd, and only after thinking hard about why have I been able to shake the dust off of my sandals and keep walking.

You see, I’m not afraid of eternal punishment, and I’m not afraid of missing out on an eternal paradise. I’m definitely not afraid of severing relationships and burning bridges when they’ve grown too perilous to walk on. Though I do hate the idea of being lonely, it isn’t something that I would say that I fear.

What I think I really fear is waking up one day when I’m old and grey, having living nothing but a shell of the life that I could have lived—a passionless, purposeless, waste of the blink-of-an-eye that I was given.

My first inclination in these moments is to search for purpose and meaning in places where I’ve searched for it before. It’s amazing, because although I have never found peace in those places, it’s painfully aware that I’m programmed to seek it there. These moments often leave me reeling—staying up deep into the night, staring into the blackness of my bedroom, fighting, fighting, fighting.

If I look back, I am lost.

It has always taken a proverbial act of congress, but I have to remind myself of one truth—one of the simplest truths of all: that the remainder of my journey lies ahead of me.

Here’s to becoming more and more aware of the world around me, and finding more and more peace in my place in it.

If I look back, I am lost.

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FEATURE IMAGE: Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash

12.01.2020

It’s funny how I’m never depressed and anxious at the same time. I’m either very depressed, or I’m very anxious. Never both. I guess I should be happy about this. The reason I’m not is that I suspect that I’m both depressed and anxious at all times, and I’m only feeling the one that has flared up. I don’t know if I’m making sense.

I started taking a new medication that’s supposed to help with side effects of the medicine I’m taking for depression, and I think it’s helping. I’m going to knock on wood. I told my wife last night that I was just feeling a bit bummed out. I wasn’t complaining. I was happy about it. The anxiety has been so bad lately. Today has been an okay day, and yesterday was an okay day (especially for a Monday).

I’ve already spent too much money on Christmas gifts. Retail therapy is real, guys. Even if it’s not buying things for yourself. Maybe especially if you’re not buying things for yourself. I must digress, though, because I have slipped up a few times and purchased something for myself. I bought an 4K Blu-ray player, which was expensive, but also something I’ve wanted for a long time. I said I was just going to kill two birds with one stone and buy a PS5, but it’ll be literal years before the supply equals the demand for them. In the meantime, my PS4 is working just fine. I need a better TV, but I’m in no hurry. It’ll come when it’s supposed to.

I’m rambling, so that’s probably a good sign that I need to sign off. Y’all be good.

11.23.2020

It’s just a bad feeling that won’t go away. It’s the fear that something bad is about to happen. It’s hours spent imagining all of the bad things that could happen. It’s the waiting. The assurance that nothing will go right. The dishwasher will break. The washer or dryer will need replacing. The car will malfunction. It. Just. Never. Stops.

Anxiety, man. I thought I was dealing with depression, and maybe I was to some degree, but it’s this anxiety that is crippling. It is ruining my life. I hope that something useful comes back from the tests I had blood drawn for last week. Something helpful.

I’m still hopeful, for some reason. I think what bugs me the most is the obvious knowledge that I have no reason to feel the way I do. I have no reason to be this afraid of life. Absolutely no reason. I’m blessed beyond measure. I have a beautiful family, a roof over our heads, two dependable vehicles, and a full-time job. I should be enjoying these blessings, but all I can think about is losing them.

I hate this so much. I really do.

That’s all for today. Hopefully I’ll have something better to write about next time.

11.19.2020

I keep telling myself that I need to write more. Maybe I do. I lost my voice somewhere along the way, and I haven’t been very successful in finding it. There are glimpses, sure, but nothing that lasts. It’s this depression and this anxiety that have a firm grip on me right now. Right now, in this moment, I’m okay. I feel as okay as I have all week. I can still feel the anxiety tugging at my mind, but I’m not wallowing in it like I sometimes do. The depression steals. It’s a thief. It takes your joy. It takes your passion. It takes your desires to create. It simply steals all of those things, and it replaces them with nothing. You’re left with this huge gap in how you’ve functioned for years, and you try to fill it with what used to go there, and nothing fits it anymore. You use the same goddamn pieces, and nothing fits. I wish it wasn’t like this, and I wish I knew what to do to turn it around, but maybe time is the answer. Something triggered me a few weeks ago, and I’ve been having trouble ever since. Maybe the further from that moment I can get, the better I’ll be able to manage my emotions. Maybe. I should probably be using paragraphs, but nobody’s going to read this anyway. I had a good checkup at the doctor yesterday, so that’s one good thing. It’s funny. I started the month determined to focus on gratefulness. I decided to share a thing I’m thankful for every day of the month. I lasted like four days. I mean, sure, there are things that I’m grateful for, but this depression and this anxiety can rob you of even that. It can rob you of your ability to simply be thankful.

Friends, I’m probably being dramatic here, but I feel the way I feel, and I’m weary. The daily grind can be exhausting. The same mornings. The same workdays. The same ev…

I had to stop writing earlier due to some sudden work I had to get done. It’s been a few hours. I feel okay. I think typing all of that out helped. I told my wife earlier that I feel as okay today as I’ve felt at any point in the last week. I don’t know why, but I believe things will get better. I always have. Hopefully I always will. That’s enough for me today.

08.26.2020

Hey there!

I don’t have a lot to say, but I wanted to jump on here and unload a few things. Nothing dramatic. I just don’t have a lot of outlets right now. Well, it’s not that I don’t have them at my disposal; it’s just that I’m not making much use of them.

I’ve been feeling very drained and burnt out, and I think it’s just the combination of school starting back + eating healthier. I have spent my whole life running to food emotionally. Good emotions, eat. Bad emotions, eat. Whatever the reason, I’ve found relief, at least for a moment, in eating. I’m not eating as much these days, especially not snacking, and I feel like I haven’t found a replacement for it. I don’t know where to go to process my feelings, either good or bad. I get out of bed a little after 5, I take a shower, wake my wife up, fix breakfast, we wake up the kids, we get them ready, I take them to school, and I go to work. Work is fine. Very slow lately. I wouldn’t say it’s been a drain on my psyche. I pick them up, we do homework, we eat dinner, and we get ready for bed. By the time they go to bed around 8, I’m drained, and all I want to do is go to bed. But I don’t really want to go to bed. I just have zero mental energy left.

I’m just venting. I don’t know what to replace food with. I don’t know why I’m zonked out so early every evening. It’s confusing and frustrating. I also don’t feel like these mental health medications are doing very much. Jesus, if they are, I am supremely messed up. I should probably hit my doctor up and tell her, but every time I talk to her I gaslight myself into believing I’m just not meeting my meds halfway, but maybe I am. I’m eating better. My body is healthier. I just don’t understand why that improved health isn’t making its way into my brain. Maybe I’m still in that fog that hits when you make big changes to your diet. Let’s say it’s just that.

Thanks for reading. If you have any ideas, shoot them my way. I’m no expert. At anything.

Later.

FEATURE IMAGE: Photo by Cris Saur on Unsplash