But it’s worse than that. It’s more like a dark monster — spewing its foul hot breath down my neck — just waiting for its chance to devour me.
I’ve come to a restaurant where I haven’t been for a long time. I didn’t really want to deal with anyone I know, but I felt too restless to go home. I’m sitting next to a huge window with a view of a beautiful sunset on the horizon, but I don’t even feel like walking outside to take a photo.
The glorious red sky doesn’t match the blackness I feel inside.
It’s not depression that I feel. This sort of darkness is different. It’s more like hopelessness. It’s the feeling that I’ve been running a race — pushing toward the prize I needed with all my heart — and then finding that I’ve been running in a big circle. It’s the feeling that my time has been wasted. That I’ll never have what I’ve been chasing.
When I woke up this morning, I remembered a dream — a vivid night drama that had awakened me in the wee hours and made me feel terribly alone.
It wasn’t a long dream, but it hit me hard.
I was taking some art photos for a project. I don’t recall the details, but I liked the work I was doing. I knew that most people wouldn’t understand whatever it was. That was fine with me. I just wanted her to like it — to approve of my work and to understand it.
I had made large prints and mounted them for her to see. I proudly showed her what I had done, but she didn’t seem very interested. She said she didn’t think anybody would want to buy them. She said they were “OK.” She didn’t think they would make me popular. She was clearly disappointed in me.
I woke up right after the dream and it felt real. I felt as though my heart had been crushed. Not only had she not liked the work, but she made it clear that she wouldn’t think I was doing good work unless other people liked it and wanted to buy it.
She didn’t understand the work, but even worse, she didn’t care about it. She only cared whether other people would like it and buy it — whether it would make me popular.
I felt as though I had done it for her — for her approval. I had thought she understood what I was doing and would be proud of me. But she wasn’t proud. She didn’t care.
She didn’t understand me. She didn’t have faith in my work. She didn’t believe in me.
And that’s what made me feel so terribly alone as I laid there in the dark semi-consciousness of 4:30 a.m. She didn’t believe in me.
It just so happens that it was five years ago yesterday that I wrote something which I see as foundational to much of what I’ve been writing since then. In an article called, “We have a hunger for love just as strong as the need for food, water,” I wrote about what I see as the driving force in me.
I was in a hopeful place at the time, so I ended that by talking about the need to “never lose faith that love can save your life and give you new purpose when you least expect it.”
That hope and faith drove me — and drove much of what I’ve written since — but I’m losing the faith that I was so eager to talk about at the time. The evangelist for the gospel of love is slowly becoming a love agnostic.
Every word that I wrote five years ago is still true. We do have a hunger for love. It is just as strong as the need for food and water. We die inside without the love we need.
But if you’ve been chasing love for years — and you discover that you’re running in circles — maybe there’s nothing waiting for me at the end of this race. Maybe the darkness is all there is.
Maybe she will never be there. Maybe being alone is all I’ve earned. Maybe she doesn’t believe in me. Maybe nobody who I want will ever understand and have the faith to take a chance on me.
And if this is all there is, what’s the point in my work? What’s the point of the meaning that I want to create?
What’s the point if there’s no one to create meaning for?
And in the wake of those horrible questions from the dream, I fear that my hope and faith are gone. And that’s why my dark companion has been following closely today, eager to point her accusing finger and tell me that nobody loves me or believes in me.
I don’t want to believe that dark monster’s whispers, but I have nothing to say that might show her she might be wrong.