The urgency of the afternoon felt palpable: All I wanted was to take a jar and run it through the air, capturing fireflies and embers of the moment. I knew my chest would never rise and fall like this again. That the taut rope pulling my throat and my heart would weaken after I walked away. That the warm touch and comforting pressure would never feel so close.

And yet all I could really feel, see, smell, and hear was how climbing could be a dagger, wedging itself between the knot of wood binding two people and splintering the whole thing apart. A simple flick of the wrist.

I marinated in the aftermath for the next twenty-five hours, as my body navigated a steering wheel, engaged pedals, bought fuel, and made a firm journey towards the Southwest. The distance between where I was and where I was going began to grow. It seemed obvious that the meaning was not shared, that it was understood so differently. And in that difference a numbness crept: I felt I was leaving something unrecoverable behind.

I sensed the lives surrounding and moving around me. For once, I had nothing to say. Suddenly, the conscious mind that gave rise to my mental habits was absent. I was an empty carcass, sapped of energy. A genuine lack of empathy and attention towards others was the only way to protect the rest of what I could give, to save this small devotion for myself.

Myself, and the habit of making meaning, stripped away, I suddenly tasted freedom. Because I knew nothing really happened. I am adding nuance to the wind, the sound, the decisions, to make a narrative of my waking sensations.

The insight was just on the periphery of my understanding, like a fog it descended over me until its blurry contours faded beyond my body and I couldn’t tell where my world began and ended. Instead, the further away I observed, the crisper it became. If I could live in this void between ideas, if only I could not be remade by thoughts, sounds, music, and words, I could have my self-respect.

And a few days later, as I listen to music and hike to the cliff, a rising sensation of purpose fills my bloodstream like a drug. I reveled in the seduction of a task whose success forces the rare alignment of a normally defensive mind with a primed body. I welcomed the familiar pleasure of existing in the discomfort of the process – a home I know well, a home where I could sleep soundly at night.

And this feels right, even though I know it is a myth. Of course, there is no meaning. But doesn’t it feel so good to be the one holding the pen and writing the story? To have your soul be swallowed up by something? So, I keep running into the rabbit hole and off to work to continue to make meaning.

And as I hike down and the purpose rests in its natural rhythm, I slip up and I can’t help but think of you. But it all feels a little bit better because this time, when I tell myself to stop, I do.

The pain of loneliness, of being misunderstood, of failing will be nothing compared to the pain of losing my agency. And so, in a way, everything opened up suddenly before me.

I also know I will pass through this time as I have again and again.

And that all the things that happened to me will remain buried deep in the soil of my body.

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