Saturday, July 9, 2011

Silence and Clamor

I walked alone through the automatic doors into the air conditioned, noisy atmosphere as I fought back tears, as I pushed all the baggage down and jumped on the lid yet again.  I'd been fighting with my mom.  She dropped me off where I work in the bakery department of the local grocery store.  I like smiling in general, but especially at work.  I like reminding people that it's possible to be happy, that happiness can be more tangible than a fairy tale.

I hurriedly punched my four digits into the system.  I was late.  I hate being late.  I cantered down the bread aisle to the back corner where I basically live, as I spend at least 30 hours there a week.  I tried to look natural, calm, composed, normal.  I held my voice steady and even managed to smile as I casually greeted my coworkers.  All the while I was shrieking inside.  Civil war was escalating, working its way toward self-destruct.  I felt alone, like there was somewhere more important I had to be, like my body was there and going through the motions as the rest of myself moved and contorted itself in a terrifying combination of rage and fear.  I felt transparent, invisible even as I stood there and they watched my face laugh with them.  

I nearly burst into tears.  I started running around, occupying myself with anything at all so I couldn't interact, to distract my mind, to calm down.  I cried.  People walked by.  I discreetly dried the tears, making it look like an itch or something.  We exchanged words.  They never knew.

My busy-ness found me in the freezer where we store cakes and other baked goods to keep them fresh before displaying them.  I have thoroughly drawn comparisons between the freezer and Hell:  it is so cold it burns, it is full of temptations, yet nothing can be savored and there is always reason to fear.  Unlike Hell, no one remains in the freezer for more than a couple minutes at a time. 

I let myself go, I cried a bit, and I did not grow cold, surrounded with metal and ice.  But the cold air calmed my nerves and caressed my skin.  I was a powder keg that had been stabilized for the moment.  A moment was all I asked for. 

I walked out of the freezer with my emotions placid enough for me to rationalize.  The battle I've fought so many times before began.  I faced hard questions: Why was I where I was?  What gave me the right?  Why should I not be somewhere more grand?  Why do I exist?  Why do I not forfeit the good fight, the difficult life?  It's a loosing battle anyway, isn't it?  How could it not be?  What am I continuing for?  Tolkien's idea as spoken by his hobbit, Sam, echoed clear and strong in my mind: "Because there is some good in the world, and it's worth fighting for."
Simultaneously an image of the world as a black cloud of a fabric knot held together by a single golden thread woven throughout met my mind's eye.  This is my new image of the world.  Elusive black depending on the strength and symmetry of gold.

I was still running around, putting things away and taking things out.  But I was finally calm.  The turmoil died.  I remembered that I'm free. 

"Suddenly there was a great burst of light through the Darkness.  The light spread out and where it touched the Darkness the Darkness disappeared.  The light spread out until the patch of Dark Thing had vanished, and there was only a gentle shining, and through the shining came the stars, clear and pure.  Then, slowly, the shining dwindled until it, too, was gone, and there was nothing but stars and starlight.  No shadows.  No fear.  Only the stars and the clear darkness of space, quite different from the fearful darkness of the Thing."
~ A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle

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