The Melancholy of Despair

“While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.”
– Maya Angelou

monochrome photo of man sitting on grass
Photo by Darwis Alwan on

Anxiety grips through to my heart and twists. My breath catches in my throat, unable to surmount the lump that has formed within. I try again, and each hitch slowly brings air that feels stale somehow, left behind by time itself. As I am now.

A warm tear escapes my eye and grows cold. In exhale, I am smaller still than when this episode began. I cannot look up. I can only cast my eyes into the shadows of my thoughts. The Earth, though vast, will not yield a hole into which I can crawl and hide away. She sees me, sees my pain, yet will not allow it.

I touch my forearm mindlessly. I remember each slice of skin, each attempt to atone, to escape, to feel, to center on something besides my ineptitude. The need beckons me again, as if she were a friend waiting in the darkness but not letting on that her ways do not grant absolution. They only amplify the offense.

I must choose. Will I learn, or will I fall again? If I fall again, and again, and yet again, will I rise up or allow the darkness to fold over me? If I learn this lesson and the next one is harder still, will I back down or persevere? Will I cower in silence and tears, or will I challenge myself to overcome? Every day I must choose.

“Pain is certain, suffering is optional.” – Buddha

I think I am beginning to learn. Each failure is a lesson. Each misstep is an opportunity for course correction, rather than a reason to shrink myself into the background. Every interaction in life is a guidepost for the soul, albeit sometimes more difficult to read. In scary movies, I yell at the characters not to take the darkened path full of shadowy elms with wicked branches that reach out towards the path. Why would I then choose that path for myself?

“Blinding ignorance does mislead us. O! Wretched mortals, open your eyes!”

– Leonardo da Vinci

Open my eyes, indeed. I will throw off this veil of disillusion. The Earth denied my hiding place because I must not hide. I must face each step and choose my path well. I will stumble. I will fall again. I will also rise back up, more times than I’ll be able to count. I will learn, with eyes open and watching the guideposts.



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1 thought on “The Melancholy of Despair

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