I've opened an unmarked box, dusty and clearly untouched for decades. No sticky-back paper, no marker scrawls, no indication whatsoever about it's content. Is it something to be tossed in the garbage? Antiques to be retained or sold? Junk whose only purpose in existing is to remind someone of some long ago occasion that is dear only to that individual?
You would think I'd know all considered.... but I don't.
Time seems to have stopped... or at least slowed down enough that each micro-second is super charged and packed with too many thoughts and emotions to comprehend. There is something here... something hidden away and secreted deep into the subconscious; so unfamiliar that it's just as good as new. The stiff, crumbly texture of the cardboard and the thick layer of gritty filth indicates otherwise, however. This has been here for a very long time.
It's too dark to see it's content once the flaps have been unsealed and flipped open. I drag the nasty piece of crushed tree into what little light exists. More than yesterday, but still far from what one could call "well lit". I don't want to just blindly reach into the thing... it's been here and unmoved long enough .. who knows what may have taken up residence inside, aside from what was intentionally placed in it.
Carefully, I sneak a hand in and feel around for something - I have no idea what. It's an oddly large box for the amount that has been placed inside. It's a miniscule thing, really... a concept.. a notion. Something that can only be perceived by each individual mind and no two are alike. Sort of like snowflakes. Only this has been preserved. Sort of. The awareness of the concept exists - but when pulled out, into the open and the light, I realize it's been broken. Shattered so long ago that the only place left for it was here, hidden away. Too valuable to toss out, but to broken to repair.
What I find is the death of a concept. An infant ideal that should have been kept in the finest condition, nourished, and exponentially increased in value. I can see by the stage of arrested development that this particular concept was quietly put to sleep; gone forever with only a memory of "should have beens". I recognize it now. Something I had set aside as a child, too anguished to fully comprehend what it's loss really meant. Too lost to mourn it's passing. After all, the physical presence in which this concept once resided in still exists.
At first, hope allowed the denial to persevere. After years of repeated beatings, hope disintegrated into indifference. This was a new wall... and a new burial for this death - but there was no ceremony, no mourning, no acknowledgement. The process was never fully followed through or completed.
The remenants crumble in my hands while I sit and stare at them, torn between numbness and renewed loss. I feel dizzy and heavy, everything blurring around me, tunnel vision settling in, honed on the newly formed pile of memory-dust, making a small mountain before me. Little dark spots start to appear, as though by some unknown conjurer, speckling the mound. My stomach hurts. There's a flash... I'm 3... I see it, still in-tact... FLASH! 7 - cracks and fissures start to form... FLASH! 10 - broken and snatched away.... forced from my hands. I didn't put it away... only in the context of denying the loss did I put it away. The reality is, it was taken.. killed... torn.... ripped from my grasping, clinging emotion-self. Dead. Concept murdered by reality; completely crushed before anything had a chance to mature.. including me. FLASH! Now.. FLASH! 3... FLASH! death...
30 years later.
Death takes many forms. It means change no matter how you look at it. Sometimes, it's the closing of one door and the opening of another.. but we can see the closing as a death.. the termination of an opportunity. There's physical death, which requires no definition. There's the death of a dream; something we want to have done or accomplished and never doing it or something happening to prevent us from fulfilling that desire. Sometimes, the dream is unrealistic and therefore, Life sees fit to remind us to stay within the context of reality. This is not the same as the death which I am speaking of above. There are different kinds of concepts... non-tangable things that are created within our mental realm, whether it's emotionally or psychologically driven. Sometimes, those concepts are so critical to our essential being that to have them prematurely terminated is just as detrimental as if a physical death had indeed taken place. Of course there are differences, but the big picture is that the sense of loss and the damage that stems from that loss is equivalent. Just as with any major traumatic experience, when we go through life in a state of denial, it has a global effect on us until we find the way to recognize and cope... the only path to healing, at least, as much as can be had in such circumstances. But it's more than what could be obtained without such a pursuit. A great deal more damage takes place as we travel through existence with a dark cloud sitting on the fringes of our souls, and the longer it takes to see it for what it is and deal with it, the stronger it becomes, the more damage it does and the more it pervades us and prevents us from fulfilling our potential. It is another ghost.. but this is one that can never be exorcised. The best you can hope for is to just stop the damage where it is and disallow any further injury to occur. What has already been done is there. The pain is there. The loss is there. They cannot be fixed, changed or removed. But we can learn to live with it, better than we did while it was still actively consuming us, without our knowledge. Mourning is a life-long process; and it doesn't HAVE TO be an obstacle. It can just be, as long as we don't give it more power than we have ourselves. It's an uncomfortable, but unchangeable, symbiosis. I will live my pain and therefore, live my life; to do otherwise is, ultimately, self-defeating and self-mutilating.