The Emptiness of Having Everything


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South Africa
Just some musings of a troubled mind.

There is a certain blissful ignorance that armors a young man's heart as they move through life, bestowed by hope and dream and the shininess of all that could be, in the wonderland of possibility that is their blooming life. But what happens when that armor wears thin, when time erodes away its strength and the rust of reality sets in?

On a day not unusual, as the season turned and the first light rains of spring came down, Jacob started to think about these things as he sat on the porch on a small wooden bench. The bench was painted white, an attempt to lift the wood from its natural state to something greater, white paint to cover the blandness of cheap wood and make it something special, like biblical stories of the white throne perhaps. As he looked down at the hand-rest he started to pick at the chipping paint and it flaked off easily, revealing the truth and matching other spots of reality on the weathered seat. Jacob's thoughts swelled at the sight. He lifted his hand and held it up turning it around and inspecting it while slightly frowning. It was old and wrinkled, and he could not even recall the origin of most of the scars, except the one on his finger where the small mouse bit him has a child, which somehow he never forgets, and he smiled at the thought. But dark thoughts of meaninglessness and hopelessness reached up from the depths of his subconscious like tentacles of an ancient sea monster, grasping up from the depths of the dark deep of his soul to spoil his smile; they pulled and gnawed at his mind those agents of reality.

He stood up and walked over to the side of the porch and his dogs jumped at him excitedly as always, and he envied their innocence. He looked up at the clouds as small drops of water started to wash his face. The sun was barely visible, a pale light, a faded compass. "How fitting a metaphor for my faith" he mumbled, and one of the dogs looked up at him and turned her head sideways at the words.

Back inside Jacob sat at the kitchen table staring out the window while the kettle boiled. He resigned himself to some tea which always seemed to lift his spirits. But again he became lost in thought, spiraling down and down in the maelstrom of questions and regret, until he was suddenly ripped back to the present as the kettle boiled dry and jumped around hissing steam. The automatic switch broke a long time ago, but somehow he just lived with it, never having enough motivation to fix it or replace the kettle, as he had more important concerns. Having given up on the tea he lay down on his bed. To the side he could see a big crack in the wall; long neglected, and above him a water stained ceiling. He could see how the things of the world perished around him, he could see the same erosion in his flesh and it reminded him of the words in the Bible, and he recited it by heart: "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not from the Father but from the world. The world is passing away, along with its desires; but whoever does the will of God remains forever." The truth of this had never been clearer he thought. When a young man becomes older and the reality of his end, and the loss of the world becomes undeniable, this truth becomes a stinging dagger.

Despite the knowledge of that scripture, Jacob had collected much wealth and possessions. He had driven flashy cars, loved and lusted. He ate and married and made merry. But at the end of it all any meaning escaped him, for he lost his faith. Where is the hand that reaches down from heaven to bring him up? Where is the light that aims to guide the lost in this dark? "How have I gained everything, but lost all things?" he yelled, the sound echoed through the house, as tears replaced the rain from earlier on his face. But the tears angered him, for he felt abandoned by the one who would notice them. His tears were empty and meaningless for he could not hear God anymore, he could not hear the spirit, its voice lost to the void of his faithlessness. He wanted desperately to pray, but was left frustrated, not knowing how to structure the words anymore, not knowing the name to use, or through whom it should pass. He felt a great chasm of his own construction between him and any God, an impassable menacing abyss hewn by his own hand of excess and sin, even arrogance.

He constructed a melancholy song for his heart to speak, and the somber tune drifted through the emptiness of the house he found himself in:

"Who will see me in my plight, my unrelenting fight
for faith has left me, along with any holy guiding light
the deep dark now is my home, obscured from holy throne
for I've collected almost everything, but am utterly alone

I am deaf to the voice of God, those sweet words of hope
left at the mercy of hell, and its brimstone ash and smoke
the waters of life a mere wish, and idyllic quenching dream
those refreshing truths and knowledge of grand scheme

I throw myself at the mercy, of the unending universe
singing my words into the sky, to echo and disperse
and if a holy being, would happen to hear a verse
may they have mercy and lift me of this curse."

Jacob stood up from his knees, and ended his prayer song, and sighed, the house was silent and getting dark. Just then an unexpected cool breeze abruptly moved through the house. He was sure all the windows and doors were closed, due to the rain, but while still confused he heard it; a voice, calming and caring like that of a mother, whispered on the wind, and he could just barely make it out: "Beloved, you will not see corruption, for the most holy keeps thought of you, his voice is in your ear always, but your flesh stumbles you. Your ego is a wall that you build by your own hand to obscure paradise; the garden of his voice and waters of knowledge, and the tree of life. It is so close dear one, if you reach out your hand you could touch it, but your hand is full of the spoils of excess. Hear what the spirit says and be healed, grace be upon you."

Jacob was not sure if he heard the voice or thought it, but it brought him back to his knees. Somewhere in the dark of his heart a small flame was ignited by the power of those words, an ember of pure hope. He went to the bathroom and washed his face, then stared at his reflection in the mirror. He smiled at himself, and said: "Goodbye old friend, or is that old enemy perhaps, I've spent way too much time on you, and I will die with you at this rate, its time this one lived outwardly and gave something for a change instead of taking and collecting and defining things for his own purposes, maybe be alive for the first time and be in union with something greater and eternal."