My world is a quieter place these days; the throat of the beast inside me is raw and no longer emits the roar that once deafened all other sounds. This is good, yes? In the quiet I meditate and do not try to find purchase on the smooth walls of silence. I tell myself there is no shame in my current life's station; there is nothing wrong with being a shadow, a husk.
I no longer roam the halls at work with outstretched arms and a braggart's swagger. I have no interest in being bigger than life — small is my domain now, small and simple, winnowed to solitary pleasures: a smoke in the dark, an evocative song, written words that create magic in the heart.
Once upon a not-long-ago time I would have laughed at this reduction, the same way an ample-bellied man laughs at a bowl of rice — half in derision, half in disgust. Who wants rice when there is meat? No one rhapsodizes over rice. No one scorns steak. The big man wants an all-you-can-eat world with a dessert bar and unlimited beverages. I still remember the taste of that world and the feeling of a full and plump stomach.
I am hungry, but not enough to return to my gluttonous ways. I turn away from the steak, wave off the chance to consume mass quantities. What's the use? My once-excellent table manners have gone to hell. I'm no longer a good dinner date. People draw close and I cross my arms. Intimate moments suffocate; I stammer and fall silent, and in the quiet, hard feelings take hold. This is my own fault. I'm the one who doesn't feel comfortable in the company of others.
I don't know what to do anymore. Time stumbles on; I wander through each day and wonder when I stopped caring about being a part of the world. It is still a beautiful place, I hear, full of unfolding colors and bright stabs of sunshine. I've tried to find an express route back to living but the only thing swift in my life right now is a gadarene rush into oblivion.
Hush, I tell myself. No sense in getting upset over All This. HST said it best: Relax — this won't hurt.