Tim sat at his desk doing nothing. The sun rises and sets, flowers bloom and wither, storms rage and subside — and just as assuredly, Tim remains unaccomplished. As for the sun, it shone through the window of Tim’s room, a natural spotlight for Tim to showcase exactly what he was capable of — that was, for the moment, nothing.
“Now, why is that the case?” pondered the 20-something year old, leaning in his computer chair. Indeed, any pseudo-adult of his age ends up jumping left and right to find something, anything, to make them feel as achieved as they did 10 years ago, as a fifth grader praised for knowing square roots. Otherwise, the pervasive sensation of non-productivity can make one feel palpably pathetic.
But Tim didn’t believe that he was listless. Indeed, Tim knew that nothing of grandeur could blossom overnight; flowers are embodiments of the fact. University was but another stepping stone in the unwritten story of Tim, another stage of gestation in the unopened rosebud. Yet, Tim was growing tired of the womb.
Perhaps Tim was just impatient. You would expect such from an adolescent-just-turned-adult; the classwork back then was nothing like the curriculums of college. Because of that, it was easy to obtain the pleasures that come with friends, food, video games, sleep and what-have-you.
But as life’s expectations, external and self-imposed, not only rise in difficulty but accelerate toward some unforeseeable deadline, it becomes so much easier to forget about yourself.
You could get lost in a storm of cynicism. “Work, work, work until you die, until you forget about your friends, until the only thing fueling your body is caffeine, until you waste the night away at 2 p.m. playing video games clawing for a rush of dopamine,” Tim thought.
It was a vicious cycle for Tim.
First, believe you’re a failure; then, realize you can’t judge a project still in progress. Eventually, get tired of how long it’s taking to finish it, and end up frustrated with your impulsive, arduous and destructive attempts just to stay alive.
And then not care.
What is there to say of the man that never changes? What can be said of that who stubbornly edges the precipice of disaster, and only learns something when he finally falls into the ravine, but only then? What can be said of the man who scrapes his skin slipping off of the slope, managing to catch on the cliff face, bloodied and battered, but climbing up only to continue on his perilous plight, not an inch farther from the abyss, even if his bones were shattered?
How can you help those doomed to repeat their mistakes, perhaps until they’re dead?
Tim found himself crying. The sun was setting and turned from spotlight into floodlight, blinding Tim’s glassy eyes. He closed the window and was left in the dark of his musty room, bed unfixed, notes strewn about the table and homework due online in four hours. He hadn’t started that essay, nor finished the reading it needed to be based on.
Tim found himself sobbing. “Why can’t I change?” the poor man spurted out. To reach your hand out for the stars, only to recognize you’ll make no effort more than that, not even a measly jump: such was the tragedy of Tim.
An hour passed. Moonlight trickled in through the gaps of the blinds. By then, Tim had run out of tears for the night, his self-pity forgotten, and was working on the essay with the help of SparkNotes. The vicious cycle had reached its arrowhead, ready to start up again at a moment’s notice.
However, Tim had one tool in the kit that time and time again kept him going: tenacity. It might not have been satisfying, but all Tim could do was keep faith in himself that one day, he would really change.
Perhaps there’s nothing wrong with that — the only other option from that point is to give up.
Maybe someday, Tim would have a shoulder to lean on, someone to help him keep away from the chasm. One day, he might discover a greater purpose and have reason to devote himself to improve.
Or maybe not. Maybe Tim would traverse his adversities alone, though be all the stronger for it. Whatever the case, Tim might finally find himself at least an inch farther from the point of no return, and inch by inch approach a better life for himself.
No matter how much he’d get in the way of himself, Tim persevered. He could only hope that the sun would rise again, however long it might take. And the sun always rises again. Tim would never forget that, no matter how dark his shadows grew.
After all, there couldn’t be shadows without light.