I never anticipated that I would be here. This is not the life path I had plotted for myself all those years ago. But what did I know then? Lies. I knew lies that I told myself to blanket that creeping fear. That’s what I knew then. I knew lies. I don’t do that anymore. Now? Now, I cast off the comfort of convenient lies. I confront the ugly truths inside of me, one by one they come marching like blank-faced lemmings.
Somewhere along the way, I became brave and calloused. Somehow, I became an adult. Like, a real one, and a fairly responsible one at that. But, like all things, that transformation came with a price. Gone are the days of foolhardy certainty, hollowed out by naked speculation and spectacular indecision.
But, maybe I’m being too hard on myself. Maybe, these extraordinary expectations I’ve etched for myself are unrealistic. Fuck, I know they are, but I don’t care. I’ve survived enough to realize the strength of the mold in which I was cast. In all honesty, I weathered a storm, massive and terrible, and I suppose I expected to perish, and yet, I emerged from it better than I had any right to. So, now I reflect. I reflect on what was lost and what was gained. I’m still here. Great. Now what?
Retrospect is easy. If I knew then what I know now, well, it wouldn’t have served me well. Shit, if I knew then what I know now, I would’ve been found curled into a ball in some dark corner, sobbing without end. I’m glad I didn’t know, that knowledge would only have robbed me. No, it was better this way. It’s just, I’m not always sure what to do with the time that’s been given to me.
I’m trying to channel the best parts of me into something substantial, something lasting, something beautiful. I’m closer than ever to accomplishing that. In fact, it’s only recently that it began to seem like anything more than a distant daydream.
I spent so many years raging against the machine, a machine that was always equipped to withstand my onslaught. It wasn’t until I was exhausted that I discovered it’s secret. See, that’s the trick — sometimes the whole board can turn on your ability to simply remain still. That’s when I learned that to defeat the machine was to become part of it and turn it against itself.
When I was a kid, I used to imagine poverty as some spiteful personification. It had an appearance similar to Death, and like that darkest harbinger, Poverty too swung an exacting scythe that sliced wickedly and repeatedly. But, despite such cruelty and guile, there remained a light that refused to be extinguished. And so long as that light pulsed, whether real or imagined, literal or metaphorical, that elusive ship had a chance to come in, slim as that chance may have been.
So, now? Well, now I write the story. Now, I plunge this magnificent pen into my flesh and smile serenely as the arterial spray of ink splashes across the page in triumphant defiance.
Smile. Stab. Smile. Stab.