It is a curious thing viewing one’s life through the lens of retrospect. I begin to see decisions that I’ve made and the patterns that make up the habits and myths that once served me well. The twin realizations of mistakes made and the implication of failures left unresolved is enough to overwhelm most anyone. I don’t claim to be anything but ordinary, and I am not immune to the sting of a demon that haunts us all. I hold so much hate for it that I perish the thought of naming it. It’s name is a word that holds pain and self-inflicted misery. That word is “regret”.

It’s not often that I find the time or the ability to indulge in it. It’s a debilitating luxury that many of us fall prey to, and too few of us have the ability to resist. It’s a siren song disguised as simple remembrance. Once it takes hold, it becomes a hypnotic force of attraction, pulling its victim into the jagged shores of misery and self-loathing. People can become marooned on those relentless shores, unable or unaware that the most expedient means of escape is acceptance. It becomes all-encompassing until despair and misery come calling close behind.

I greet despair and misery as one might greet a worthy opponent, with a level of respect and full knowledge of the depth of their ability. They once held me prisoner in a place where the murky waters of depression and hopelessness met, holding my head below the icy, inky blackness. It’s all-encompassing and I know it’s song and it’s acrid stench well enough to recall.

It wasn’t until I shed all pretense of false dignity and implied failure that I was finally able to ask for help. When I did, I found many hands extended in my direction. Some of great strength and breadth, others of a smaller and more focused nature. Each in their own way pulled me out and embraced me, granting me a modicum of their strength and sight beyond my limited vision. What I found I did not like, and what I did not like
I abandoned or destroyed utterly.

Realization of infinite empowerment in the twin realms of manifestation and destruction; that is what was granted to me. In so doing, I have forced the proverbial mirror to turn inward upon itself. The questions that have nipped at my heels as though they were possessed of Cerberus himself once again vie for my attention. “What do I desire”, “what constitutes a ‘well-lived life’”, “will any of this mean anything after I’m gone”, “will anyone remember me”–endlessly, these questions encircle and ensorcel me, enervating me. Were these questions merely inquiries that held neither the weight of guilt nor pain of disappointment, I would consider myself lucky. Imbued with wicked weight and impossible idealism, they are the perfect foil.

I wrestle with my thoughts, unable to rest, unable to breathe deeply. I steal glimpses on occasion; of a life lived more fully, with no sense of pretense, less worry, and no doubts about the path upon which I have tread or the path that calls out in yearning for the press of my stride and the strength of my spirit. Phantoms and echoes pervade my senses as I continue to struggle, the ebon ichor still clinging to my limbs and burning my lungs. Painful reminders of what was and what could have been.

In the bright light of hope and the truth of the eyes granted clarity through retrospect, it fades. I am able to see and sense that the path is not merely singular, one of “destiny”, but one of infinite breadth; the North Star of that wondrous expanse shining brighter still as recognition lays its full force upon me. As my spirits lift, it brightens. It is I, it is my will that points the way. In this knowledge, I am empowered.

I struggle on.

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