Wherein I Abandon All I Ever Wanted

I herewith abandon my fantasies. My longings are impossible wishes—dreams so removed from reality they would be funny if they weren’t so painful. Pain, though, is an instructional tool. Pain leads us away from delusions and into reality that hosts knowledge on its own terms. At least the pain of reality can be resolved with truth; the pain of delusion can be resolved only with the most improbable magic. Reality is more reliable and less excruciating.

With the abandonment of dreams comes the unpleasant acceptance of the potentials of reality. Fantasies can mislead us into believing we have stumbled upon success; reality can turn us away from so-called success, as illusive as it might be, toward in-your-face failure that hides real success beneath a shroud. There’s danger in every direction but down.

A fantasy involving full recovery from lung cancer can devolve into an acknowledgement that lung cancer is not the only killer. So we grab the pistol and consider killing the newly-knowledgeable. Chance becomes a player in the game. Statistics begin to matter more when all the lotto numbers have been drawn. Playing roulette takes on an entirely different character when one loads all the chambers, spins the cylinder, stares into the barrel, and prepares to pull the trigger.

But all this is make-believe. It’s vapor escaping from a vacant cavern.

I doubt I’ll ever be able to abandon my fantasies. They are too much a part of me. Without them, I would be an even emptier shell. And the shell would be as fragile as the invisible, impossibly thin, arc of ice that once was the surface of a bubble.

That image, for some reason, pleases me. It suggests something so beautiful, so delicate, and so impossibly brief that it would be impossible to develop an emotional attachment to it; instead, the image is simply an experience, not an interaction with a physical thing.

What fantasies shall I abandon? That I’ll ever be young again. That I’ll ever hold dominion over a large tract of isolated land, where I’ll mold and shape the ground with my tractor and my implements into the paradise of which I’ve always dreamed. That I will build, with my own hands, a simple but magnificent castle that pays tribute to the natural order and to Emotion, that God of All Things that Matter. That I will ever be loved for my mind and my body and my soul, except by some demon I create in the deepest recesses of my brain. That peace will envelope the Earth in a shower of unending joy. That anything I have ever done, or will ever do, matters.

I rocket between glory and gloom with such speed it’s dizzying. It’s as if I can experience the heights of joy and the depths of dejection at the same instant. They are so closely ordered in time and space that I cannot tell them from one another. Agony and ecstasy exist in the same place at the same time and are experienced in the same way.

Everything decays. Even atoms. Knowing this, is it not reasonable to assume that, at some point, the entire universe will degrade into a mass of spent fuel, leaving only ashen residue as evidence it ever existed? What would take its place in the vast expanse of nothingness? We cannot begin to fathom endless nothingness, any more than we can fathom an endless supply of time and space. The concept of infinity is our feeble attempt to understand the inexplicable.

I realize, of course, that what I’ve written here—and much of what I write day by day—could be construed as the shrieks of someone so deeply depressed that he is in danger of snuffing out his own brief candle. That is not the case. I simply express, in amplified fashion, the massive spikes and dips I experience while riding my emotional roller-coaster. Using yesterday’s incomplete and disjointed internal conversation as a point of departure, my emotional highs and lows cycle several orders of magnitude between one another. At least I document them in that manner. In reality, I’m probably just overly dramatic and desire some exercise for my fingers.

Escape. That’s the key fantasy. Escape from the constraints, the shackles, the chains—all the ideas and thoughts and restrictions that bind me to the surface of the Earth instead of freeing me to float above the chaos we create and nurture here below. Oh, to be rid of the messiness of humanity for long enough to know what purity really is. That’s a fantasy worth having. And worth abandoning, I suppose. Pursuit of the unachievable is not a reasonable goal; it’s a wasteful distraction that interferes with the possible. Wishing I could fly gets in the way of building aircraft or watching, in awe, as butterflies dance through the air.

Two wise young rockers, now decrepit geezers, said these true words: “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you just might find, you get what you need.”

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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