When we are young and life is new, its weight upon our back and shoulders is very light. We aren’t carrying much of it. We flit about with energy and exuberance. We dance with the seconds, leap with the hours, twirl with the days, as the hands of our clock spin swiftly around the dial. The hourglass has only just been started. The grains of sand yet to come are plentiful. We are strong and unencumbered. Endless possibilities lay before us. Time is our friend. We have much of it before us and we can’t wait to see where it will lead us.
We haven’t yet been hurt and burdened by our days and nights.
It happens early on for some of us; much later for others. But no one exists for long without being dished some portion of pain and disappointment. Many make it through life without having to experience abuse. Without major setbacks or gaping, hideous wounds. But as time passes, we begin to feel it. The minutes stack themselves on our back, our neck. As their weight grows, it gets harder to dance, to run, to laugh. Our energy and excitement abandons us. Leaving us behind, in the dust, tired and thirsty. For what was once light and plentiful is now a heavy burden. Time is running out. We dull down and numb out to survive.
We become numb because of the weight of our accumulated pain. Because of continuing rejection and failure. Disappointment. Hopelessness. Despair. We have to keep smiling and walking and talking and performing, producing a product that other people want, so as to be allowed to continue to exist. The pressure of being – and meeting expectations – is crushing. Each second that is piled on us multiplies the pressure. Until we simply can’t stagger forward one…more…step.
We find ourselves forced to fit into a mold in the shape of the obligations of life, and it is an unnatural shape. It breaks every bone in our body.
We begin life believing in its goodness. We believe that things will eventually go our way. We think if we are a good person, doing good, trying to be good, attempting to do the right thing in each situation, then good and right things will happen to us. We trust in the law of reaping what we sow. What we don’t understand is that we don’t always reap in the way we think we should. Things come back to us mangled and missing major pieces.
We, good people that we are, sow obedience to the demands of the world. The demands and requirements of others. We reap the death of our soul.
For those of us who endure abuse, before we are carrying around the heavy burden of millions of minutes, there is a belief that we will find healing, happiness and wholeness. We simply need to forgive and work through the damage. So we endure and move onward, filled with faith that we will overcome. That everything will right itself in the end.
We silently endure horrible parental abuse and opt to try to make it to high school graduation, in spite of the damage to our mind and soul. Because running away will destroy our chances of getting an education. We stay in a loveless marriage, believing our faithfulness will eventually bring restoration to the union. Only to be left for another who is deemed better and more worthy of love. We work hard at our jobs, in spite of feeling used, unfulfilled, and unappreciated…only to be let go. We find we are not valued in spite of our dedication. We are cast aside in favor of someone who manipulated their way up the ladder at our expense. We think doing and being right will bring rightness. But it doesn’t. And our obedience does not bring us freedom.
Our life is spent enduring hurt and failure, only to find there is no reward. No happy ending. Aspirations die moments at a time. The years pass and suddenly we realize we have lost the ability to hope. To dream. To enjoy. We no longer believe…in anything. It’s all about making it to the end of the day. Surviving the darkness of the night. Waking the following morning, only to struggle through another lackluster, uninspiring, draining, soul-crushing day. Wishing we could stop. Wishing it would end. But there is no way to escape. We are trapped in a Boolean loop, the programming playing out its script endlessly.
The years grow unbearably heavy.
Time becomes our enemy. Beating us into the ground. We are so weighted down, we lack the strength to attempt to escape the trap. To affect change. We keep going simply because we aren’t able to see any other options. But every step is more difficult than the last. Our heart is no longer with us; no longer among the living.
Sometimes we think of the child we once were and we are shocked at what has become of us. This was not what we had planned. We were going to fly like a butterfly. Dance on the clouds, leaping from star to star, touching the moon. We were going to escape. And we were going to do magnificent things with our time on this earth. Things that would change the world and everyone we touched. Change them for the better.
Time kept ticking by, second upon second upon second. Day upon day upon day. Year upon year upon year. Heavier and heavier until our limbs trembled from the weight of it all. Until it was all we could do to drag ourselves from bed, drag our feet across the floor, drag our clothes from the hangers, drag ourselves from tedious, life-destroying obligation to numbing, spirit-killing requirement. We do what we must do to make a living, pay the bills, sustain, maintain, and if we are very, very fortunate…gain. But mostly, we become drained. Empty. Weighed down by the accumulated burdens of and tolls exacted by the unrelenting passage of time.
In those moments when we suddenly wake and are aware of what has become of us, the terror nearly rips our heart from our chest. The anguish is crushing. We drown in regret. We ask ourselves why. We wonder how. And we try to not think about it too much because the pain is deep and cold and unbearable. It fills us with terror and agony.
The seconds can’t be unwound. We can’t remove them from our shoulders nor unwrap them from our necks. Nor can we buy them back for a second chance. Time places each grain of sand from our hourglass upon us until all our grains are spent. As we breathe our final breath, the granules bury us and we are returned to dust. We are left wondering what all the pain and suffering was about. Still hoping there is a reason. A purpose. Redemption. Praying our broken and painful existence was not all for nothing. Praying for weightlessness. And finally…freedom.