Photo Credit: Brandon HM Oh (Flickr)
By Darryl Scott
In a decrepit corner of existence was a statue. The pain of the world was inflicted upon him, and his eyes reflected none of it. He bore the suffering of life in stolid silence, never once uttering complaint or distress. His face did not betray the turmoil that threatened to rise up and crack the shell of his impassiveness, to expose himself to the world. But the shell that was him remained intact. Its façade did not break. Passerby never saw the passion under the stone, nor the life it contained. It was every reason to break, but all the more reason to remain silent and still.
He first saw life through a lens of innocent love. He marveled at people, and through his joy he radiated the true beauty of his existence. Their cities, with monoliths that jabbed at the confines of the world, were monuments to the greatness of humanity.
However, the world saw him as a cold It. He yearned, desperately craved, for the love of people, anything to signify that he was indeed worth something. A solemn glance was the most he was spared. None took the time to register the grace of his being, to truly note the emotion under the rough aperture. His elegance was lost in a world of ignorance, misinterpreted by beings that lacked empathy. His love went unrequited, and he bore the pain in silence. Not one of them would understand him, much less care.
He fell into a depression. Bitterness crept into his heart, his being centralizing around hate, encompassed in cold aloofness. People, the world, repudiated him, saw him as stone, and he became determined to truly be stone. He grew to resent humanity, knowing full well it was another layer of stone, of falsity, around his soul. He expressed no love, for the world had not shown him any.
He often wished for death. However, he was paralyzed, aware that the world would not register or care for his death, and unable to commit the deed solely for his own release. He yearned only for love, and fading to nothing would only further his isolation. Instead, he turned to self-loathing, wondering cynically what was so flawed with his being as to cause the rejection of the world. He saw nothing but the pain of his existence, and his grace, his elegance, was lost even by him. He pitied his own worthlessness.
Humanity soon receded. Their numbers dwindled, and he watched with savage pleasure as their civilization fell to flames. They knew no love, and it was only fitting they die by their own hand. He did not feel compassion. He was beyond it, only reciprocating the hate shown to him. However, the death of humanity took the entire world with it. All life turned to ash, the land gray desecration. His existence became a solemn marker of the suffering wrought by humanity; the destitute earth his personal hell.
Years passed, twisted and warped and melded into a single memory of ostracized pain. He saw only his own wretchedness, love and happiness becoming a foreign, obscure concept. He bore the suffering of life in stolid silence.
Green crept back into the world, coming slowly through the spread of lichens, the twisting reach of vines. Grays faded, overcome by a growing green, signifying the return of life. He feared its resurrection, remembering humanity`s repudiation of him, and wished for the sweeping wave of life to secede. It would not show any love. However, he was powerless to stop its advance. He watched, brimming with old hatred, as trees took root around him, growing to encompass his surroundings. He saw their towering branches as the constant oppression of the world, forcing its uncompassionate existence upon him. He resented life for the pain of innumerable years, eternities comprised of suffering.
Autumn came, one of countless many, and with it the return of birds. They fluttered, chirps sounding to him like insistent shrieks, through an ever-shifting mural of shimmering trees, their abstract expression of warm reds, oranges, and yellows invoking serenity, swaying leaves merging to create the stained-glass artwork of life. It was in this bright environment of peace and harmony that he radiated hatred. He wished he could strike down the birds, silence their incessant noise. He hoped the trees would wither. He was merely afraid, fearing the rejection of life.
However, life continued its slow advance, approaching without pause or mercy, and it soon reached him. One day, a bird landed on him. He watched in utter shock as it proceeded to construct a nest in the crook of his arm. He observed its persistence, the care with which it assembled its home. As the bird labored, vines crept up his body, ensnaring him in their grasp. Moss covered his surface, coating him in the life he resented. However, he did not feel hatred. The bird soon completed its nest, laying four spotted eggs in the shelter of his arms. As life engulfed him, he became the sole protector of the beings entrusted to him. He noted with newfound wonder their fragility, how easily they could be wiped from existence, and sought to be their guardian. He wished them no ill will.
He watched as one by one, the eggs gave way to infants, gasping their first breaths in the comfort of his embrace. Their cries for attention did not seem piercing, or shrill. Instead, they were familiar, comforting.
They depended on him. The world needed him, registered his existence.
He was wrong. Years and years and he was wrong wrong wrong. Everywhere life appreciated his existence, and he was surrounded by evidence. He was a part of the world, cared for and needed by life. The chirping of the birds was a song of life, a testament to the joy and vibrancy and love that births one generation to the next. He coexisted with life, each depending on the other for fulfillment. He found his worth in the embrace of the vines, and voiced in the birds he shielded from pain.
The birds soon left the nest. One by one they learned to fly, and one by one they ventured off on their own. He rejoiced their leaving, and not out of hatred.
As time continued to flow, he began to crumble. The façades of his being cracked; the shell that was him began to break. Hatred and pain and fear fell away, and the faults in his rough aperture revealed a shining interior, exposing the true grace of his being. No longer was he stone, but an embodiment of love, his true emotion. His impurities were stripped away, and his eyes gleamed with tears as the world proclaimed its love for him, taking him into itself. He crumbled and became one with life, and love.
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