Friday, July 25, 2014


     In the great World of Life, there are many landscapes. A Lake of Legends, full of wisdom, reflects into your soul and whispers the secrets of the great ancestors. A mystical Island of Romance, where many magical moments transform the lonely soul into a bursting radiance. The winding Trail of Tears, a place where travelers say goodbye to their loved ones and begin their final journey. The bustling Errand Park of daily affairs, where you can find scads of busy bodies going about the daily routine and finding things to keep them running from dawn to dusk.

     Among the many paths and getaways, there exists a barren, cold land hidden in the shadows. To go near is to elicit shudders of untainted hopelessness, cries of desolation, and silent cries of agony. The borders of the shadow lands are marked with the blood of any who travel there. The rumors say that those who enter the shadow lands rarely  return. To be a visitor to the wasteland is to face a cruel death, from the inside out. Stories are told of the withering of arteries, blood turning to ash within the veins. The heart transforms slowly into a wizened, dried organ that works harder and harder to pump the thick, deep red/black paste through the body, until it collapses from sheer exhaustion. The eyes, a window to the soul, glass over and it may well be that the soul ceases to exist at all, a wisp of a memory all that remains of the full body that came to this place.

     A curious wanderer, I once danced among the world. I avoided Errand Park, choosing instead to explore anything that could bring some adventure and life to my young old soul. I grew up on the outskirts of Culture Compound, where many a child is raised in a fairly standard manner. The adults in the World of Life have adapted over centuries to a social norm, and although there are many cultural differences, a common thread runs throughout the majority of homes here. Each child is raised by the community around them, and looks to a mother and/or father for guidance as they prepare to be released into the World of Life's many societies and lands.

     On the edge of the compound live the rebels of society. These are adults who have traveled much, seen much, and have chosen to adhere to another set of home life rules, hoping to grow offspring with similar revolutionary passions. These children have little access to Culture Compound, protected from outside influences and conditioned in a carefully constructed environment. I was a product of one of these insurgent homes, isolated and trained carefully. The adults in my life didn't understand how their passions had fragmented the souls of all the children raised there, leaving us damaged before we even began our crossing into the World of Life. 

     I considered leaving Culture Compound as an act of breaking free. I hadn't conformed as well as my family had hoped, and they were glad to see me leave, expecting few to no accomplishments from me as I lived my life. As a flawed specimen, I felt far displaced from the rest of the world, unable to see that flaws existed in each of the individuals I crossed paths in. Hungry for fulfillment, I sought my destiny anywhere I saw happiness. Avoiding Errand Park and Legend Lake, I migrated toward Fantasy Forest, living dreams that were not mine, hoping that I could find the missing pieces of my soul. But there was nothing there of me to find. I traipsed to the Island of Romance, and there I projected onto many, finding the idea of a companion alluring. Surely a whole person could make me a complete person.

     Instead, I discovered the faultiness in every individual. That only served to enrage me. Rather than filling in the missing pieces, I broke off sections of my soul and gifted them to others, again and again. And each time, I was left less of myself than before. In place of love, joy, and contentment, the empty spaces inside me filled with doubt, betrayal, and rage. And so it was, as darkness attracts darkness, I found myself traveling to the Land of the Shadows. 

     It wasn't a conscious choice. I believed I was traveling forward the entire time, of my own free will, when in reality I was taking two spaces back with every roll of the dice. Eventually, the magnetizing effect of dark to dark pulled me to the border of the Shadow Lands, and I found myself being dragged across the border. By that time, there wasn't enough left of me to struggle. As soon as my body hit the rock territory, inexplicable pain followed. It was great and cruel pain, but I hardly noticed it. All the terror, misery and desolation that filled my body was numbed by a barrier of fog in my brain. 

     I spent almost a year in the Shadow Land. I've heard tell of tales from other survivors, and they all speak of time spent in a blur, barely remembering the most acute agony they ever lived. And I can attest from my time in the Shadow Lands that their testimony rings true. They tell me life went on, that I said things, did things, walked among the living, but I was so near death inside that I could not retain the perception of my experiences. I remember seeing vitality and life around me and wondering how I was still among the living when I couldn't sense a thing. Glimpses flash through my head; my aunt, holding me in her arms and telling me she would do anything to erase the sadness from my eyes.

     I am a survivor. A remnant of my soul remains enmeshed in the Shadow Lands. But I am not alone, I'm not afraid. I have found my place and I have discovered peace.