Not again he thought silently, slightly shaking his head as if warning them off. Sounds, unintelligible, always lurking just beyond comprehension. ‘Leave me alone’ he thought. I already have enough problems without you adding to them. “What do you want”? “Why are you doing this”?
They had started within the last year. A year that had not been kind. The plague that had rocked the world had certainly raised havoc in his. Normal was just a word. The job he loved and from which he always thought he would someday retire was now part of the past. Overnight, everything he knew was changed. Friends that were distant by edict now no longer gathered by choice. Friendships, that were the fabric of his life, like an old sweater, had unraveled. Places he favored no longer existed. Even casual relationships had faded.
Each day was much like the rest. Forced exclusion from society had taken it’s toll. He could feel himself withdrawing into a solitary cocoon. Wrapping himself in the trappings of isolation. Becoming complacent. Settling for existing instead of living.
He hated it. All of it. And now the voices. The whispers. Punctuating his separation from, well, everything he desired. He saw himself now as just a shell. That which had been, was gone, and with it, so was he. His sense of worth was shattered. Motivation challenged. Ambition on the wane. And, deep inside, he began to realize that the thing he hated the most was himself. When all else had been stripped away, he found that what was left was lacking in value. The real him had been reduced to nothing greater then an empty vessel. All the value had been inside and he had always chosen to covet the external.
What does success look like now he mused. What have all these years of groping, fighting, climbing been about. Where had all the struggling, all the education, all the knowledge gotten him. Today, none of that seemed to matter. All he was left with was yesterday, and of course, the obsessive voices whispering. Always whispering.
He had unconsciously concluded that time had replaced him with an environment in which he no longer belonged, no longer cared to be. Perhaps this was where it was supposed to end. Maybe that was what the voices were trying to say. Urging him to take the next step. Step through the shadows. Complete the demise.
As he sat, he felt the prelude to a tear enter his eyes. How could he have failed so badly? How had he not seen that life was not what was around him, but what was within him. If he had another chance, what would he do differently.
And once again, the whisper came. Louder this time. He sat silent, straining to hear. And as he did, he at last understood. It said simply “love thyself”.