The Hole

The Hole

Prompt: 15th May 2021 – Solid vs Liquid

There was a fine layer of dust on the surface of the sun-hardened ground. Even at night, the heat could still be felt rising from it. The clouds were doing their utmost to hide any star or moonlight from the earth, and the animals were silent, seeming to know what was about to happen here. 

He had no tools with him, but he had no choice. He fell to his knees and, in a blind panic, began to claw at the dirt. He scratched and picked, and felt for sharp stones that he could use to leverage the ground open. The dust rose up and rushed into his panting mouth, choking him, but he couldn’t stop. He pleaded and begged the dirt to move aside and let him in. 

With broken nails and aching hands, he managed to form a small basin. Once the top layer had been removed, the earth gave way more easily. His digging became more frantic and his fingers started to bleed as they caught on unfriendly edges. His mind was set on his only goal and he dug as if his life depended on it. 

The night was getting colder but he was warm from his efforts. And still, the hairs stood up on the back of his neck. He dug deeper and deeper, becoming more manic and desperate the further he went. Every now and again a whimper escaped from him as he tunneled his way down. His eyes wide, trying to see through the dark and the mud. His hands were covered in clay and blood. The ground, he was pulling out in clumps now, was tacky and moist. Flecks jumped up and splattered his face but any attempt he made to brush them away just pushed them further into his eyes.  

Down and down, he went, and the soil got wetter and wetter. The mud began slipping through his fingers as he scraped it up the walls and out into the night. Then his jeans were soaked through and his boots began filling with water. His hands were washed clean every time he reached down for more. 

Relentlessly, hand over hand, he scooped out the masses of mud. The water level rose with every scoop. Before long, he had to submerge his head to reach the floor, and still, he kept on digging. It took longer and longer breaths, and he began to spatter and cough every time he came up for air. Finally, he lost his footing and had to dive down to the never ending task, then tread water as he tried to catch his breath. 

Time and time again he dove, dug, and rose. He had long lost reach of the top of the hole, so had resorted to sticking the mud to the sides of the walls to stop it from undoing his hard work. The air became dense around him as the hole above his head narrowed. He returned to the base, pulling it free then sticking it to the roof he’d now created above himself. The fear and exhaustion had taken over his senses and all he could do was all he had been doing. His small pocket of air shrunk as he committed himself to his endless task. 

* * * 

He floated with his back brushing against the ceiling on the tomb he had created for himself. All around him was finally still. His broken hands drifted, weightless. He blinked and the tide took him out to the ocean.  

A Dream (or A Commentary)

A Dream (or A Commentary)

Last night I dreamt I was on a starship. There were only about 20 people on board and we were all young, inexperienced and not particularly knowledgeable. But, we were part of a larger fleet and in constant contact with the fleet commander who had a lifetimes worth of experience and knew exactly what he was doing. Unfortunately for us, our captain, and owner of our ship, was impetuous and eager to prove herself. She attempted a maneuver that was not sanctioned by the commander. Something went wrong and we ended up warping to God-knows-where, losing all communication with our fleet.

After some time trying to regain communication and failing, the crew determines that we are actually caught in the gravitational pull of a large star. We have burned all our fuel in the warp so are unable to break free. We will be burned to death in approximately 7 years. Some time is spent trying to figure out if there is a way to stop it, but none of us really know much about space-travel or the inner workings of the ship we’re on, so people quickly give up and calmly resign themselves to their fate.

The ship we are on is huge and was built for habitation, so it contained anything and everything that you could ever want. Everybody swiftly went about making the most of their final 7 years. Some focused on learning things that they wish they knew, some busied themselves with hobbies, from gardening to crafts to fitness, some indulged in entertainment and gluttony, attempting to pack in as much care-free fun as possible. Whatever the people chose to do, they did it whole-heartedly. Not me though. I could not ignore the fact that we were headed towards our death. I began by trying to find a solution, but I knew I wasn’t smart enough and it would take me decades to learn everything I needed to know before I was even able to implement anything, so I gave up on that. I tried to do things that used to make me happy but everything now seemed frivolous and pointless. I would start things half-heartedly and then give up before I finished it. I spent many hours just sitting or lying down, staring at nothing and sighing deeply.

I envied everyone else for being able to find joy in a hopeless situation, and was simultaneously infuriated by their willing ignorance. I felt utterly alone, like I was dying a slow death while everyone else was “living their best life”.

I woke up before we reached the star, but I was left with this feeling of apathy for life.

Cold Feet?

Cold Feet?

I am engaged. My partner asked me to marry him and I said yes. We have begun planning our wedding.

On day one, I was excited and so happy that I couldn’t stop smiling. On day two, the anxiety began setting in.

I love this man and have wanted to be his wife since our first 6 months together. He will be an amazing husband and father and I would spend the rest of my life with him without thinking twice, but then he asked me if I would spend the rest of my life with him.

The proposal didn’t come as a great surprise, we’d talked about it a lot before and I even knew that he’d bought me a ring and was having trouble with getting it delivered during a pandemic, so I knew it was coming and never worried about it. I have looked forward to being his wife for years and never felt anything but happy and confident about it, so why am I feeling like this now that I’ve said yes?

I keep asking myself, as is my practice, what is this feeling and why am I feeling it. The first thought I had, in it’s rawest form was, if I swear on all that I believe in to be with him for the rest of my life, then I actually have to do that. I only make promises I intend to keep, I will only consider divorce in the most extreme of circumstances. So then the questions follow; do I not want to be with him for the rest of my life? Do I imagine us splitting up? Is there someone else I’d rather be with? Or would I rather be alone? But as I already said, I do want to be with him and only him until I die. I’ve wanted that with surety and steadiness for a long time. So it’s not that.

I delved in a little further and found a fear that I would lose my independence. Every decision I made in life would have to include or consider him. I wouldn’t be free to do whatever I wanted without first considering the impact that it would have on him. But I already live like that, and have done for the past two years. I don’t want to do anything that would impact him negatively, and everything I do want are things he wants too. So that’s not it.

Perhaps it’s the idea of the ceremony. I am religious and he is not, nor are either of our families, but if I’m going to make these solemn promises to him then I want it to be in my tradition and with blessings that mean something to me. He is more than happy for us to do that and is helping me to plan that kind of event, but it still feels self-indulgent. To stand up in front of our friends and family and say “this is who I am and what I want so this is how we’re going to do it” makes me feel uncomfortable. But then again, the wedding is about my partner and I making promises and commitments to each other, not about putting on a show for our guests, and as I said before, I would want to make those promises in a way that is meaningful to me, otherwise they won’t mean anything. So I guess it’s not that.

I have always feared change in my life and getting married seems like a big one. Except it’s not really. My name will change and some other legal formalities (nothing major, nor detrimental) will occur, but other than that, we will still live in the same house, with the same cat and the same jobs and hobbies, we’ll just be married, that’s all. So it’s not that either.

Currently, I believe that what I’m feeling is a generalised anxiety that comes with making any large decision in your life without having certainty of the future. We cannot foresee what may happen in our lives and making a commitment so big on faith is a scary thing to do. I have experienced similar anxieties when choosing a university to go to, or buying a car. The difference with those things is that the commitment was short term and reversible, this one is not. Therefore it is not completely unreasonable to expect a higher level of anxiety.

The fear of loss and hurt is strong in me too. Maybe he’ll leave me, betray me, lie to me, and even if he doesn’t, eventually he’ll die, and I don’t know if I can handle a loss like that. There have been many times in my life where I wanted to avoid investing emotion so I would not experience such pain, but I was convinced by well meaning people to ignore my instincts and take the risk (“Life is risky”, “What if everything goes right?”, “If you don’t take that chance you might miss out on something great”). Then my fears would come true, and I’d be destroyed again. Every time I have trusted someone not to hurt me, they have hurt me, usually very badly.

It’s also worth considering that I have never seen a marriage that I coveted or admired. I was never a girl who dreamed about her wedding day and never saw marriage as wonderful thing to aspire to.

So there are no real reasons for me to feel so anxious, and yet many reasons why I am. I will try to meditate on these things and hope that I am consoled by the idea that these fears come from nothing substantial. I have to assure myself that the potential gains outweigh the potential losses and then take the leap of faith.

Age, Death and the Soul

Age, Death and the Soul

My body has been living on this planet for 29 orbits of the sun. In general, the human body can only survive for 80-100 orbits. At that point, the cells are no longer able to reproduce or repair themselves. When this happens we say that someone has died of “old age” or “natural causes”. But no one can really die from being old, their internal organs have to fail. It is highly unlikely that all organs fail simultaneously, so I’m curious to know what starts the process of death. Does the brain stop sending signals to the organs to make them work? Maybe the heart stops sending around oxygen and nutrients? Perhaps the lungs just won’t take in air anymore? And then what? Once the body is dead, is the soul then free of its fleshy prison and able to roam the universe, experiencing it in a new way previously unimaginable? Does consciousness just switch to another being, like changing user? Maybe the energy that was used to power this body is now available to power a different body? Are what we experience as ghosts just echoes of left over energies, like static? In Zen Buddhism, they teach us that there is no before and after, there is only this moment and as soon as you realise it, it has already passed and you are in a new moment. However, people who have reached enlightenment or the highest state of consciousness have reported that there is no time at all and that all which exists is the connected oneness of everything and the unity of the Truth. So maybe only those who have realised and experienced this connectedness are able to shift their consciousness at the moment of death and everyone else who believes in their separate singularity ends up dying alongside their bodies.

Maybe it’s all irrelevant.

Give me Liberty or Give me Death (Trigger Warning)

Give me Liberty or Give me Death (Trigger Warning)

Something happened. I couldn’t walk. For the first time ever, my legs would not take my weight.

The flare up knocked me for six, but when I started to feel ‘better’ again I began to behave normally. Then I needed the toilet, sat up, stood up and fell straight back down again. My legs were trembling and were weaker than they had ever felt before. Sobbing, I had to ask my partner to help me. With one arm around his shoulders and my other hand on my cane I was able to take enough weight off my legs that I could, very slowly, shuffle my way to the bathroom. He took me in but I was far too mortified to let him help me further. I won’t go into the details of how I managed my business, suffice to say that, with great effort and difficulty, I did everything that needed to be done then sat on the edge of the bath to wash my hands. I made it back to the door spreading my weight between my cane and bathroom fixtures, feeling grateful that our bathroom is not a large one, then my partner helped me back to bed. The second I was safely down I erupted with emotion. He brought me pain killers thinking I was in agony, but the pain in my legs was minimal. I cried so hard because I felt I’d hit a new low. Even if I could do nothing else I was always able to make it to the toilet and back by myself. It was the one thing I had and now that had been taken too. What if I had been alone? Would he have come home to find me sitting in a puddle with zero dignity left?

I have been more depressed than usual recently. I have applied to the local mental health team but am at the beginning of a three step programme and a minimum of an 8 week waiting list. So I joined some Facebook groups so I could talk to people who understood and could relate. But I feel ungrateful if I complain too much. Things could be so much worse for me and are so much worse for so many others so who am I to complain?

All I know is that everyday I have this thought; “I don’t want to live like this anymore.”