We will never be the same again. I wonder if that will be how anyone feels when I’m gone. Have I touched people that way? Who will miss me and will my life have mattered or made a difference to the world, if only in some small way? Do I care? I have always been an introspective invalid, filling the spaces in time between the babble of my thoughts with anything to make the noise go away. Sometimes that presents itself as darkness and if I don’t leave the door to the light in my soul ajar, it could easily swallow me whole. I often wonder would there be a way back for me.
Such introspection, reflection and genuflection to the God of posterity can affect some people, but not I. For a man like me, occasionally disturbed by the insanity of vanity, one would assume that I might be thus afflicted. I am pleased to report my posterity can be a concern for others, for I am of the now.
Making one’s mark on the world is such a fatuous distraction. I make mine every day in some small way, though whether or not anyone ever notices or cares is another thing. Perhaps if I do something grand they will build a statue for others to bask in the reflected glory of my memory. Maybe if I merely do enough to warrant a plaque on a wall that will suffice. Wouldn’t that be nice? Not really.
I will I know remain in the hearts of those that love me and perhaps in stories to go with photographs, for those who may never have the opportunity to meet me in the flesh. If I’m lucky I will force lips to slide up at the side, as someone who knew me recounts one of my adventures. But once the tears will have passed, once my carcass is burned, frayed, buried or forgotten, I wonder will there be anyone thinking still, ”I will never be the same again.”
Oh such hubris! Well it might be if I took myself seriously. I dwell on the impossible and tinker with disastrous permutations of the mind, afflictions of the human condition on my road to perdition. I told you already my mind doth move to fast to last the journey. It is most likely a question of which gives out first, my mind or my body and oh I do hope it’s my body, for I should miss the distraction of my abstraction. For all the trouble this little brain causes me, I wonder what my journey might be without it firing on all cylinders.
We lose little things. I lose them all the time. A name, a word, a memory. Some people lose much more and an avalanche of doubt becomes their world, until it is lost forever and I am not sure how that would sit with me. I think it is the thing I fear the most and perhaps it is at the heart of the mystery of my frequent visitor Mr. Squiggles.
I always have to explain him away for newcomers to my blog. He is of course my dark companion who returned with me when I temporarily stepped off this mortal coil. His portentous if infrequent visits, are always at the same time of night. He comes with menace and with meaning my shadowy friend, and I had hoped in giving him such a silly name that he might leave well enough alone. Sadly I was mistaken. But maybe I have been mistaken in more ways than one.
It has seemed clear to me since his first appearance, that he was the harbinger of misfortune in some way. I have known him to be in search of something, to lie in wait patiently, knowing that what he had come for, was close to lowering its guard. Without any concrete evidence, I believed not that he had come for my soul, but rather he was perhaps checking on its condition. The first time he visited me was in hospital and I had watched him check window after window, before settling on mine. He seemed to sense my demise, though fortunately on that occasion he was mistaken. But like I say, perhaps I was also mistaken. He could have come for something far more valuable than my soul.
Now when he visits, he sits there on my window sill, deep, dark-on-dark, a shadow in the shadows, bent knee as though swaying softly on a garden swing, and I have begun to wonder – does my Mr. Squiggles have a whole other agenda. What if he wants more than the ticking last beat of my unsound heart? What if his pleasure is taken in a more perverse way? Is he bleeding me slowly, taking away the part of me that I value most?
I was born with troubled vision in one eye and even from an early age, I knew writing was important to me. I developed a teenage anxiety that I might someday lose my vision in the good eye and be stripped of my ability to write effectively. That was an unnecessary worry, but I do wonder what might become of me, should I lose significant cognitive competence as I move further into the second half of my own very personal century.
Physical health was always something I took for granted until death came knocking on my door. It shook me and left me a little less confident if I’m honest. I am not a fearful man, never have been. But it can be hard to stay brave. I write about bravery in all of my books. It is an important theme. Bravery presents itself in many forms and seldom looks like the picture we imagine in our heads.
Overcoming fear is the key. Fear can define us. That is not something I ever want to happen to me. So when I discover a niggle, a wriggle of a nuisance of a thought that threatens my sanity, I cannot allow the seed of it, the need of it, to take root in my mind and grow.
Age it seems is more than a number. I am still young – relatively – or at least to those older than me, and as such I have in theory at least a long life ahead of me. But the horror of introspection, that collection of nonsense in my head sends me off on tangents I would rather avoid. I have learned the hard way that we are vulnerable and bad things can happen to good people. Life happens regardless of how we chose to ignore it. My life is good, filled with much happiness, love and people I care for but I am a melancholic by nature and that is my personal cross to bear, and perhaps the trade off has been to my advantage more often than not.
I look in the mirror each day as I shave and wonder where the boy has gone. He was a handsome boy that lad, full of spirit, carefree, a wildling, flittering on the winds of life. I sometimes stop and stare at the face I see staring back at me. Don’t get me wrong, it is a fabulous face (at least that’s what my mother told me Lord rest her soul) so I’ve kept that illusion, but the eyes seem sadder sometimes. I can see the pain I hide in the crinkles on my forehead, and the sorrow I have buried in the bags beneath my eyes.
Usually I give him a smile. I know he’s still in there and that he needs reassurance, so smiles help. I know how to force them to the surface and despite the forced nature of my efforts at self assurance, it is better than giving in to the shadow that stalks me. But sometimes, I worry if I will look in that mirror one day and wonder who that person is looking back at me. I wonder if the people who love me will ask the same question. Will I see only a shell and cry alone in the dark of night as the world overwhelms me? Such darkness that befalls me! But wait! There is a light that shines to keep the shallow thief of darkness at bay, for I have a secret.
I am more than just a scraggly mess, I am more than a good night and God bless. I am something no one else will ever be. I am strong and kind and loving. I am loved, rooted and unwaveringly sure of all that I have been is not all that I am, and that there will always be more to add you see. I am that introspective illusionist with a million thoughts a second running through my head, and while I know that from that madness I will never fully escape, I am still that wildling boy, running fresh and wild and free. I am more that the lesser parts that are my make up. I am always just enough to be what I must be… I am always and forevermore…and if nothing else…me…
Haven’t read a Max Power book yet? I think it’s time to pick one up.
Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
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