Sometimes, in a person’s life, comes a moment when frustration becomes too much. Trapped in inertia, unable to move, they struggle, look around for ideas, options or help, and find none. Repressed anger remains unexpressed, pushed away and ignored. Depression and ennui creep into the psyche, but hope remains for a time. They keep looking for solutions, for choices, and keep anticipating that the end to their battle will come.
But what if the end doesn’t come and clutching to hope becomes just another shard ripping at the soul? When do the white-hot fingers clenching to the precipice finally relax, slip away and let the slackened body fall backwards into the dim chasm? When do the eyes close and welcome oblivion? What happens when a soul dies?
A soul death is experienced when one breaches the darkest recess of their being, when they find their self falling directionless in a void. The body floats limp and tetherless in a vacuum of nothingness. Lifeless and empty but still breathing, the Self slips away each time they inhale and exhale.
A soul death exists beyond depression, beyond suffering, beyond rationalization. All awareness and desire disappear. Identity and creativity fade. Value and meaning evaporate. Passion, enthusiasm and curiosity- the building blocks of fulfillment- have long fizzled into distant memories. The body moves around, functioning– eating, sleeping, working, conversing– yet, somehow, truly, the body exists empty of the soul.
At some point, this realm becomes a cocoon of comfort. The psyche lies surrounded deep inside a shroud of colorless feathers. This continues… going on and on.
It is the ultimate surrender. The only true prison. A real death at least affords one an escape, a sort of freedom.
Knowing this, sometimes the hand reaches towards the luminous allure of suicide. In this space, there’s only a heartbeat between here and there– only one weightless, willing step that takes one past the thin, thin veil.
This is not a make-believe place in a science fiction novel but an authentic and present realm. Some die their actual, physical deaths wrapped in this dullness.
But there are others who drift only until the touch of one single moment. It could come as a soft glow from the ember of an old friend. Or from a spark emitted by a stranger mid-flight. Maybe it comes from the tiniest flicker of light way inside the self– a glimmer that has long been forgotten but persistently scrapes its way back out. It can come as a warm nudge, a jarring shock or a gentle lapping wave… They find they’re no longer swaddled with sleep.
Oh, but wait! Oh, no, the pain of waking!! Of knowing! The flaming hot tearing, the rending open of reality! The unforgiving rays of clarity screaming, racing through the darkness! The insane grief of time lost, of opportunities that have long fled! The distress, the agony! An intense explosion of recognition, of consciousness– no, but no! Who would want this?!
To live is to feel, and to feel is to know, to acknowledge, to confront, to suffer, and to no longer deny the continuum of emotions. To love, to hate. To laugh, to cry. To suffer, to excel. To feel rage, to feel peace. To experience the heights of exuberance and the depths of grief. To look in to the eyes of another with your full being- open, vulnerable and strong.
But to live is also to feel fear, to fail, to hesitate and falter, to feel shame. To be dredged.
Now, there comes a choice. To be, or not to be. To live, truly live, or to die. To climb, or to fall down in defeat. To grow, or to wilt. And in living, climbing, and growing, to fully and knowingly own the wrenching pain of the struggle. Sleeping is easy, wakefulness is hard.
Coming back is difficult. There are no companions on this solitary journey. Each breath of effort brings new realizations—the Self is not the same. New visions must be created. Regrets must be disassembled. Old dreams must be redesigned. The geography is unfamiliar and must be explored. Like a baby taking his first steps, the new Soul must travel down new pathways and learn. The face in the mirror may be the same, but the person evolves. They transform.
To grasp a rung in hand, and to reach up and grab the next rung, then the next, and next– to struggle and emerge. There is simply no greater victory.
© Pamela K. Wright 2013