Down the Dark Path Books, Paintings, and delicious darkness from J Edward Neill

Searching for the nothing.

February 16, 2017 / by grimwain

First, to set the tone, a few pictures:

searoadimagesYT53MQB8Icecity

And now, words:

Look, before we get started, there’s something you should know. I’m not depressed. In a world where everyone I know has anxiety, clinical depression, bipolar disorder, or just simply dry, cold malaise, I am free. I have no sadness, no anger. Nothing makes me nervous. I’m not on any medications and never have been. My senses are sharp, my mind the razor I need it to be.

Even so…

A while back I wrote about longing for rain. It reflected my status as an official lifelong wanderer. But this isn’t that, not quite. This is something else. Something deeper.

Last week a friend looked me in the eyes and said, “There’s no hope for you.”

And she meant it.

Now, she didn’t mean it in a cruel sense. She said it as if it were as real as gravity, as if everyone on the planet knew it the same as they know the sun comes up every morning. At first I brushed it off like I brush everything off. There’s not a bird in the world with feathers as oiled as mine. And yet, many days later, a part of me remembered what she’d said. And I thought about it. And I put some music on in the background. And I sat on my patio with the rain pounding the earth.

And I wondered whether she was right.

As an aside, the rain just started to fall. Just now. I opened up my windows. It’s pretty much the best sensation in the world. You should try it sometime.

Anyway. Where was I? Oh. Hope, and not relying on it. You see, I have this theory. It’s not really mine, but I claim it all the same. Hope is a mistake, it goes. Sounds depressing, right? It’s not. Not even a little. It’s simply a notion that hoping for something isn’t the same as moving toward it. That wanting something isn’t enough. That in order to earn your trophy in this life, you have to open your claws and snatch it from the void. And no, it doesn’t matter whether this existence has any meaning, any grand purpose. It’s what we have. It’s ALL we have. You either snare it by the throat, or you wash away with the flood.

So why did what this girl said matter to me? Why, when nothing else registers, did I keep it on my mind? I’m not sure. But what I do know is that it reminded me of something I hadn’t felt in ages. And when I say ages, I mean decades. Because you see, there was this dream. I used to have it nightly, like seriously every night, for years. I must’ve wandered through it a thousand times. And later, when the dream stopped, I daydreamed it. I’d take walks in the woods and dwell on it. I’d be in the middle of conversations with friends, and it’d steal my mind away. (Sorry, friends. You deserve better.)

The dream went a little something like this:

I’m the only person on Earth. Not the last person, but the only one who ever lived here. It’s raining. It’s twilight, and I can see the sun smoldering behind the storm clouds. I’m walking on a street between buildings that don’t exist. No one built this street; it’s just there. And then I’m walking on a shore beneath impossibly bright stars. And then I’m driving at night through a city no one lives in. No one made my car. It’s just there. After all of this, I take a journey. Down the street, across the ocean shore, toward a nameless place in my car. I travel into oblivion.  I wander into nothing.

And I love it. Utterly.

I suppose some people might call it a nightmare. The loneliness of it all, the shadowed atmosphere, the destination of nothingness. Nah. It’s not a nightmare. It’s just a feeling that I, and I bet most people alive, carry with us. You want something, only you don’t know what it is or where to find it. I say want. I mean need. We need to find this nameless thing, whatever it is, and yet there’s no way to catch it. There’s nothing. It’s like a video game quest for which there’s no solution. I mean, just imagine you’re playing The Legend of Zelda, but instead of needing to find eight pieces of Triforce, you need to find infinite pieces. You’ll play the game your whole life, but you still won’t know what you’re looking for.

If I’ve lost you, I’m sorry. I’m deep in my cups. And there’s a chocolate cupcake on the counter, waiting for me to finish this article.

In ‘longing for rain,’ I talk about how people spend their lives searching for a place, a moment, or a state of mind. It’s an ideal, so to speak, of where we want our lives to go. We know in our hearts what or where it is, and we gravitate toward it. But this is different. Maybe you know what I’m talking about. I hope you do. If you’re like me, you’ve dreamed of a place that doesn’t exist, but you still want to go there. You’ve constructed a small hope in the back of your mind, and yet you’re without a means to fulfill it. Even so, you want it. A part of you thinks you can get it. Maybe you can. But wait…no you can’t. Because you can’t catch nothing. You can only catch something.

Am I making any sense?

J Edward Neill

Author of deep, dark thoughts.

And of extreme human dilemmas.

This is a mirror of my original Tessera Guild article.

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