At the End of the Wire...

By: Mahnoor Cheema

There are occasions where I zone out, and during this period of deep thought, I find myself staring at a girl. I’ve seen this girl multiple times before. Sometimes I see her with a swarm of people lagging gloomily behind her, their shadows reaching out and grabbing pieces of her light, and absorbing it into their own souls, in an attempt to become one with her. No matter where she goes, she cannot escape these people or make them lose her tail - they are always there, and she is slowly losing her brightness to these dark entities, as her purity is corrupted by their dark stains.

And other times I see a single girl, all alone, walking on a lonely road, that eventually branches into multiple walkways with each and every choice that she makes, and only she walks this path, half of which is trodden and the other rare parts of which are brand new and uncharted.

But, no matter if she’s alone or with unwanted company, the girl always ends up on a wire. This wire is thin, and always bends dangerously under her weight, threatening to plunge her into an abyss of darkness that keeps growing and    expanding - this abyss holds her despair, her anxiety, her depression, and oddly, her comfort.

Maybe she’s been wandering around here for so long, trying to find the door that leads her to a source of light, to a source of hope...maybe she’s looking for a ladder that’ll bring her up to the wire again.

Sometimes I wonder if she willingly jumps off the wire just so she can be in the reassuring numbness of the black hole beneath it. She feels safe and secure in the dark

--She doesn’t fear it, at least not anymore.

When I was walking in the light, I realize now, that I wasn’t being true to  myself

--I wasn’t living - I was in a false reality where everything was supposedly alright and nothing was amiss. Everything that I saw, I recognized, and I believed it to be real - my happiness, the happiness of others, and the joys of the world.

I feared the dark, because I wasn’t sure what was in it - I didn’t know and I was afraid of being unable to cope with what I’d find lurking in the shadows.

I don’t know when I found myself shrouded in pitch black - I don’t even know when it got to the point that I was tip-toeing my way on a fragile and narrow wire, one that bent so easily under me and was only kept up by my determination to get to the other side.

Other side...when was there a destination? Did I develop one as I got older? Or was there always an abstract goal that I wanted to obtain for getting over my fears? Maybe I just hoped there would be something that would make this horrifying experience worthwhile.

I’d occasionally fall, sometimes on purpose into the abyss, as stated before. At first, I was terrified, and I searched desperately for a way out. I didn’t like the various rooms that shaped themselves into existence in the dark, showcasing my worst moments and failures. I hated it. I hated myself. I wanted to run. I didn’t know where to go.

So I stayed there for a while. I felt bitterness welling up within me. I felt numb.

Maybe I had been in the dark for too long.

Usually, by that point, a ladder or a door would appear, and I would be back on the wire again, trying my best not to look down. It felt like my mind pitied me, and gave me an easy way out on purpose, because it thought I couldn’t handle the stress of being alone and helpless; it was probably right in its judgement.

Overtime, as I grew up and learned of the suffering of others, I felt a change in me. I no longer cared about what the destination was at the other side of the wire - I gradually became more curious, and intrigued by the darkness below me. I wanted to examine it, observe it, and see if I could find a purpose in it. It could have been due to boredom, or it could have been due to natural curiosity of the unknown, something that I seemed to have developed as I met more people and thought more deeply about my existence.

I would hop off the wire, sometimes crashing straight to the bottom, or more often than not, surprisingly, I would float for a few long moments. It was as if I were enjoying the journey down. During my slow descent, I could glance into the darkness and it was as if I was looking through a glass - I could see the inside of the rooms, and though I couldn’t make everything out, it seemed as if I had gotten used to the darkness. I could see the rooms replaying moments of me at my worst, as if they were mini movie theatres and my life was a film that was cut up into snippets, and these particular times were on loop, forever reminding me of my failures and shortcomings.

But it didn’t bother me. It didn’t hurt to look at myself anymore. I came to accept it - as part of who I am.

Once I landed on the floor, I found myself reinvigorated, with energy that may have been dormant, backseat to my problems this whole time. I walk confidently through the various dark corridors, and peek in each room, cringing, but accepting that the past is what makes me who I am today.

And as I pass through more doors, I can feel the hallway extend, as if my mind is teasing me that I’ll mess up more in the future, and more of my fails will be displayed in this grand hall of shame, but I am undaunted by this revelation.

Sometimes, I think I can see the outline of a door; I can’t really find it, but I know it’s there - the door that holds my motivation, my dreams, my hopes, and my accomplishments. It may be a small room compared to this - a hut of limited light compared with this castle of infinite darkness.

But it exists. And one day, I’ll find the key to unlock it. At the end of the wire.