“I wish I may
I wish I might…”
Do you remember? The days of possibilities. As a child, standing in the darkness beneath a star-strewn sky. Wishing wishes, believing with all of your heart those wishes would come true. No doubts. No anxiety. Just an unshakable knowing that the impossible is possible; inevitable. Dancing beneath the moon. Believing in dreams. Believing in tomorrow. Feeling the magic. Touched by the mysterious force of innocence.
Gazing upward, making wishes on dying stars.
The sky seems limitless. Surely anything can happen. Everything will happen. The beauty of those sparkling, twinkling dots of light, visible from so far away, captivates the imagination and fuels the fire. The air is alive, filled with the sweet perfume of hope.
No need to worry. Cup the moment in your hands and drink deeply. The night is enchanted. Hold it tight. Do not let it go.
We wish upon those twinkling stars as they shoot across the deep velvet dark of night. Never stopping to think that we have handed our dreams to a star that is dying. Falling from the sky. Its light, in one last spectacular explosion, forever extinguished.
We hold our breath, guided by foolish sentiment and release our most sacred desires into the opaque darkness. We see through our imagination. And trust what is vanishing right before our eyes.
We watch the star as it streaks across the sky, believing it has heard, that it carries our wish and hurries to fulfill the desires we have whispered as it falls.
“When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true…”
And so the story goes. And so our silly heart believes. We wish upon a shooting star and close our eyes in anticipation of the mystical powers that will make all our wishes come true.
Believing a dying star will somehow fill us with light and life. And guide us to contentment.
But dying stars do not grant wishes. Nor do they cast enchanting magic spells or foretell the fulfillment of our deepest dreams. We wish and wait for the impossible, only to find even our most fervent faith can’t forge fantasy into reality. Though we wish upon a million twinkling stars, be they the first bright star of the night, the biggest and most beautiful diamond in the sky or the one with the longest tail streaking behind it as it falls, no manner of wishing, praying, hoping or believing will miraculously make our dreams come true.
I don’t know when it happens. Not exactly. We may still occasionally yet glance upward if the sky is exceptionally clear. If the millions of dancing stars are sparkling especially beautifully that night. But over the years, we learn to keep our head down. Our eyes to the ground. Weighted with the heaviness of disappointment, we no longer search the endless black sky seeking infinite possibilities. Shooting stars fall without fanfare. Without our acknowledgment. Our dreams have long ago burned up in the atmosphere as they fell to earth where they crashed and perished.
We spent our youth wishing on dying stars. We wished passionately until the passion was utterly drained from our body, drip by drip. Until we were emptied of our blood and life, droplet by droplet. We lost our hope under that vast black firmament. Beneath the heavens so gloriously filled with sparkling diamonds. They tempted us to believe and believe we did. But time…ah, how thoroughly time has ravaged our soul, consuming our eager expectations. Time causes all things to fall. To fall until there is no getting back up again. We thought we would be the exception. But time brought us down, down to our knees, just as it brings everything down that is contained within the universe in which we live. Us and the shooting stars. Falling.
Time reminds us all things come to an end. That it runs out far too quickly. And it runs out long before our fervent dreams come true.
Star light, star bright, I can no longer see your light.
My eyes have grown weary. I have run out of wishes, here at the end of my time. I have nothing to show for my youthful excitement and anticipation. I am but a shooting star whose light has been extinguished. I carry my wishes to the grave, unrealized and empty. Another dark and lonely place, my grave. And if there are stars here, either glorious or dimming, my eyes can no longer see them.
I am a 16 year old girl. I sit in my room, doors closed, watching the dust slowly dance through the sunbeam coming in my window. I sit in my room because my parents are in the living room. I don’t want them to see me. To have to interact. Interaction never turns out well.
I am pliable in body, mind and soul. Open to what is to come. That endless field of seconds spread out before me. Though wounded, I am determined to survive. Though damaged, I have hope.
And I think I have gotten through the worst of it. The worst of the abuse. The sexual part – the incest part – ended sometime during my 14th year. Now, my eyes are on graduation…freedom. I will fly from the “nest” the minute my high school diploma is in my hand. That is all that has kept me tethered to this place of nightmares, pain and destruction. Another year and I will be gone. After so many years, one more seems both endless and as if it is nothing. Merely the time it takes to blink my eyes. An eternity rolled into a nanosecond.
Like life. Endless. Yet gone in a flash. A lifetime spent in the time it takes to snap my fingers.
I remember that room so well. My bedroom. I can touch it. Feel it. As if I only just left a moment ago. But I haven’t lived there for decades. That place where I listened to albums and cried to the words of songs. Where I hugged my pillow at night and cowered beneath the covers, even in the sweltering heat. Where I trembled in fear and with dread in the darkness, waiting for footsteps that paused briefly outside my door before quietly finding their way to my bed. I remember closing my door against the agony and chaos. But there were no locks on my bedroom door. No places to hide. No safety. No way to keep the monster out.
I stepped from that moment, that long ago moment in time, into today. From 16 to oh-my-god-how-did-I-get-to-be-this-old! In the snap of my fingers. Just. Like. That. Little memory of the worm hole through which I traveled to get from then to now. I blinked. And when my eyes opened, my face was wrinkled and my heart was weary beyond repair. The hourglass that was nearly full only a second before was almost empty of sand.
This hourglass can’t be turned over. No second chances. No do-over. What is done is done. When the final grain has fallen through the narrow neck, there is no way to go backward. No option to turn back the hands of time.
It was only yesterday. That moment I so clearly recall when I was 16. Watching the dust floating through the air. Watching the sand trickle through the hourglass. Snap. But it was endless years ago.
To be fair, I have brief flashes of memories created between then and now. So many rainy days. Too many lonely and dark nights. Struggling to breathe some life into my soul. To restart my heart. Working so hard to justify my right to be alive. To take up space. To have a good experience or two or three.
But the memories are not worth the effort it takes to recall them. There are no gold nuggets among the stones. Nothing worth holding on to. Nothing wonderful or notable. And so, I’ve tossed them all back into the murky water of the past. Left them there. They – those years, those memories – are nothing but a blur. A pain-filled explosion quickly done, that flashes momentarily, leaving an imprint on my retinas, fading to nothingness.
Finished before I ever got started.
A lifetime. Gone in the time it took to snap my fingers.
My life has been one long, endless silent prayer.
I haven’t always known to whom I should pray. Although I sort of believed in God when I was a child, I didn’t actually meet Him until I was 23 years old. Before we officially met, my prayers lacked focus. But even then, before my encounter with Him, I prayed. Without making a sound.
“Please help me…”
“I don’t know how to get through this. Can anyone hear? Can anyone see? Is there anyone there? Does anyone care?”
Once I came to know God as more than an abstract, distant, invisible spirit, my prayers became more pointed.
“Please heal me. Help me pick up all the pieces and put myself back together.”
“Show me what I should do. Help me to recognize the best path…to make the right decision.”
“Please lead me to a person who can love me; someone I can share my heart and life with.”
“Please love me.”
“Please forgive me…I am such a failure…so imperfect…”
I prayed, yet only spoke the words internally. Played them in my brain. Spun them around and around in my head. Never released them to the air. I figured God could still hear me, even if I didn’t say the prayers out loud. And there wasn’t anyone else around to listen, so why waste my breath?
As you know by now, thinking and writing come fairly naturally to me. But talking…especially talking to a person face-to-face, has never worked well. I shut down because I fear being vulnerable. I hide because I am ashamed. As a result, the outcome has not been one that is desirable. It has been painful and embarrassing. And discouraging.
The silent dialogue continues throughout the day. Every day. Begging, pleading for a break. To be heard. For understanding. For guidance. For strength. To be led to a road that leads to fulfillment and love. To find purpose. To be given hope. To be forgiven. To become wise enough sidestep trouble and to remain undeterred when the right thing to do is the hard thing to do. And always, I pray for healing. Because I know I’m a mess. Far more imperfect than most. And I know there is little hope for me if I remain fatally flawed and unacceptably messy.
Like Voyager, hurling through outer space year upon year, broadcasting a message our ears cannot hear, nor could we understand if we did, so am I. Constantly transmitting without disrupting the quiet, nor disturbing the vast void through which I travel. I move swiftly through the darkness. My path has already been determined. The trajectory has already been set. In fact, it was determined decades ago. I can but stay the course and pray, silently pray there is a reason for this journey. And that, at some point, the good that is to be found in life, whatever good there might be for someone like me, will stumble upon me.
I seek, but I do not find. I make my requests known, but I find no comfort, guidance or relief. And yet, I pray. As I drive. As I walk the hall at work. When I go to the restroom. When I wake in the middle of the night, terrified of the terrain that lays before me. Still wondering how I am going to survive the day that is soon to dawn.
There was a time when I was full of hope and I believed that dawn would reveal new and wonderful horizons. I believed the day of my healing was near. That life would be joyful and full. There was a time, oh, so long ago now. Even then, I prayed. Even then, my heart had things to say that were never spoken aloud. Even then, I conversed in the language of silence. With the voice only my own soul could hear.
The language of silence. My native tongue. It is the only language I speak well. And so, I pray my silent prayers. I pray for a day when my voice is no longer muted, when my feelings are not suppressed or watered down. Numbed. I beg for an end to the terror that paralyzes me; an end to the airlessness and vacant stillness of my world. For an end to the darkness of the universe through which I travel and for an answer to the unspoken prayers of my ruined, weary heart.
It is so quiet, every small settling of the house causes the aging wood to cry out with a sharp, loud “pop” that echoes through the dark room where it sit. I can hear the wind chimes as they are harshly caressed by the brisk north wind; a wind that howls loudly as it licks the roof, as if trying to lift it off and sweep it away. Clouds are low and gray. They run swiftly across the sky ahead of the wind. It is a gloomy sky and the house is in dark shadow as a result. I should turn on a lamp. But I am bound by the silence that surrounds me. Unable to force myself to move beneath the heavy weight of those dark clouds.
A train whistle sounds in the distance. Several yards away, a dog barks and my two Schnauzers perk their ears in interest. Then, they lay their head back down on my lap. I listen to the ambient sounds. The raging voice of silence. The language of isolation. The substance of nothingness.
I have spent most of my life alone, cloaked in and smothered by heavy silence. Aloneness has been my one faithful companion. Such as it is.
Life is nothing like what I pictured it would be. It has not turned out the way I thought it would turn out and has not become what I expected. I am not where I believed I would be at this point. I do not like where I have ended up.
I didn’t expect this ever present and oppressive silence. I didn’t believe the pain and isolation would continue for so long. For my entire life. I didn’t believe the emptiness would remain a constant, nagging dagger in my heart. I didn’t expect the brokenness to persist for a lifetime. I fully believed I would be whole by now. Happy. Healed.
I believed I would know and be part of the noise of a real, full, rewarding life. I believed I would overcome.
Why is life so bleak and meaningless for me…yet so rich, cherished, full and beloved by most others? Why does my world resemble a dry desert without oasis or shelter from the scorching, unrelenting sun?
The silence of life binds me. It ties me up. It insulates me from all that is good, wondrous and worthy. There is no life-giving water in my desert, yet I am drowning. I am drowning in the noise of silence. Drowning in the endless quiet. Silence screams at me, holding my head underwater as it shouts.
I can’t help but wonder if this is all there will ever be for me?
I struggle in this muffled, empty world, fighting my way through, trying to survive. The life I yearn for was ripped from me when I was but a child. It was torn from my grasp before I could take even a single sip of unfettered joy. I have chased that joy all my life, but what was taken from me has not been restored.
I can’t help but wonder if this, this empty, soundless existence, is what my life was meant to be?
I wanted so much more. But the silent ties that bind me have not loosed with time. In fact, they have tightened like a boa constrictor until they are now unbearable. They strangle all that is good. Pain is amplified as it echoes across the sand of this desolate wasteland. I am overcome by the vast barrenness of my life. Overwhelmed by the unrelenting noise of silence.
I am saddened to think this is all I will likely ever know. All I will ever experience.
I know we are promised more in the next world; the eternal world that lies just beyond our own. But you see, I had high hopes for this life…at least in the beginning. And so, I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed that silence still imprisons me in this hollow, isolated wasteland I am forced to call home.
I long to be set free from the silent ties that bind me in this noiseless, desolate world. I long to move on. I am ready for random sound and laughter. I want to live noisily. And joyously. Unfettered. For once, flying free.
If only silence would release its hold on me…
The days are long. Endless. They drag on forever. Well, unless they are days of the weekend. Weekend days seem to go a little faster. But work days? Normal days? They drag on so long, sometimes I think I will never get through them. I long to close my eyes and let the time wash over me without my awareness. I am weary of counting the seconds and minutes. Weary of doing so many things I have to, but don’t want to do.
The years, however, oh my! The years are short. They whiz by, time spinning like a ceiling fan on high speed. They march along, month by month, ripping pages from the calendar and leaving them scattered about in my memory. A year is quickly spent. Suddenly evaporated. Then ten. Twenty. Where did the time go? How did so many years escape so rapidly and without notice…until I looked back abruptly to find they were gone without a trace?!?
The days are long. The clock ticks unhurriedly, second after second after second, painstakingly meandering around the dial. The minutes accumulate at a snail’s pace. I feel their weight. They are a heavy burden, one building upon another. When I finally lay my head down on my pillow at night, it is with a sigh of relief and a prayer for a better, lighter, less tortured tomorrow.
How is it that seconds seem to pass more slowly than minutes? That minutes pass more slowly than hours? That hours pass more slowly than days? That days pass more slowly than months? That months pass more slowly than years? That years pass more slowly than decades? And that it all flies by in less than the blink of an eye or the beat of a heart.
I am frightened by how sluggish the minutes pass and how dawdling are the days. I am terrified by how hastily the years have raced by me leaving me so little time ahead. At how the decades have passed at super-sonic speed. I have accumulated far too many decades without ever living a moment of them.
How can a day be so full of things that must be accomplished, but the years so void of progress?
Life is built by minutes that are boulders and decades that are sand. Boulders that are heavy and hard. Sand that washes from my hand, instantly wiped away without a trace. I was a girl of 16 who turned her head but once, only to then find myself suddenly transformed into a woman of 50. Sand. All that sand. I lived the boulders; they were harsh and painful, but nothing came of them. Or everything came from them; perhaps that is the problem. I only know, I didn’t get to live the sand. It was gone before I even knew it had arrived. Washed back out to sea.
Existing through the tedious minutes. One by one by one. Trying in vain to hold back the rapidly fleeing years.
The days are long. The years are short.
Life is but a second long.