Published: Harrisburg Magazine, 5/6/2022. Illustration by Georgia DuCharme.
You assumed too much. The world would be fine without you. In this, you were dreadfully wrong. The stars did not sing your praise. The Earth did not revel in your glory. The seas did not churn in exaltation. None shall know of you, but all shall owe you. It is of the passing of your days that all shall be made true, and light shall once again shine. So, as they will proclaim, and we must say, “let the light live on.”
You will awaken, as is the norm on any sun-streaked day. Barefooted, you will wiggle your toes seeking the floor, to be grounded by at least something. You will smell the bitter-sweet aroma of the burnt coffee brewing of its own accord, set as you designed. This should implore you with a smile, some lifting of the heart. Your nostrils will widen, your arteries quicken their streams, and even so, you will sense that this tangible reality, this presence of cars passing your house heading to work, the grumbling of the neighbor, the chirp of birds on your deck bird feeder, all of this will be markers to the chains anchoring you to an existence all too physical holding you back. Even though you fell asleep on your newly acquired gray couch, pleasant enough as it is, considering it was a curb grab, you will be rested, clear-eyed even, and, more importantly, clear-minded. For what is the purpose of seeing if nothing can be discerned?
In fixing your coffee in the usual—black ceramic mug with its heat revealing message underneath (Misty memories are the only memories.) poured three-quarters full and two dollops of raw sugar, you will prefer the bitter over the sweet—when you take a palate filling sip of your daily nectar, it will cut through the fog obscuring any last vestiges of your lingering dreams or false memories. Somehow, this ritual only will serve to put in stark reality how fragile your reality is.
All the more fixated, you will be in the tangible moments, delving deeper into the chair you sit or intoned to the incessant birds’ chirp—you will see as seeing is not made to see. It will be the heightened reality of your observations, the unmasking of your paradigms that will breakthrough you and allow this fragile thing called a soul to finally breathe. You will find it strange that reality is both the gateway and the obstacle, but all the same, every destination must have a path. You will find yours, and it might not be the same as any other. Most likely not.
The coffee finished, the birds still alive, vivacious as the norm, you will unlock your front door with a click, admire the deep reds of paint you recently applied to the frame, and then you will let your bare feet touch the cool wood of your front deck. The dew will coat the arches of your feet with chill, plucking the nerves up your legs—awaken, this message will send with utter urgency to ignite the ache in your muscles and the grind in your bones. A warning of misuse? Maybe lack of it? Maybe both. This will pass.
The birds will still chirp. Their reality shall never be yours.
You will step out onto the rocky path leading up to your parked Toyota Supra, the one you’ll never be able to pay off. The pebbles and stones dig into the malleable flesh that covers the bones, muscles, and tendons of your feet. Your weight will be in discord with the gravity pushing up into your bare soles this irregularity of that underneath. This will be pain, reality’s marker, reshaper, and its own gravity in a way, the gravitas of our mortality. The tinges of mirth at this duality will offer you a partial grin that you will accept, but none as of yet will admire your lifted features.
The car before you, its deep purples, and black sheer interior both will excite and incite. You loathe what it will do to your finances and your psyche. How can the intangible weigh so much? We never appreciate enough the psyche, the animus, the soul. This simple travail, it too will be left behind. The flat, but rough, pavement will guide you down Dixy Hill Lane, your once home, and you will turn away following the most prominent signs. Steps upon steps will provide the rhythm of tomorrow, barefoot you will feel the life within you stir. You will pass between a stream of cars with blaring horns as you take to the longer road. You have heard the more difficult path always produces the best results. You found this to be a fallacy, but you’re willing to look for some truth in it. For if it can be conquered, it will force you to grow, to change, to be made anew. That is, if your perseverance doesn’t falter to everness, the emptiness of the forever after.
The husks of metal swerve and screech in protest. They do not see the worth of the barefoot path.
Multicolored lights will flash and glare as they attempt to dissuade your journey. They cannot see what will be. Their outcomes are blocked by preconception.
Hands grab, light, the lights, too many lights, for such a bright day. You will pull free, even as they attempt to bind you. They cannot see that the desert calls, the forest calls, the wild calls. You will be free even when these bones are bound. Within all this, you learn, these bare feet pressed against the Earth will bring sense to this senseless, a connection along the tenuous strings to you, and your mind will alight this bridge, this synaptic pathway into the intangible. There will be the chasm between everything and nothing, and you will prevail—we know you must—thus leading to the abyss, the emptiness, where you left…you.
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