Shadows on the Cave Wall

He was laying on his back in the driveway, eyes closed, slowly breathing in the late-night air. There was no wind, the birds had all gone to sleep, even the crickets were quiet. If not for the sound of cars going by several streets over and a train horn in the distance, it would have been absolutely silent. It was peaceful, unlike the turmoil in his head.

He was struggling, quite honestly; what does it mean to be truly human? What is expected of us as a species, as individuals? What is the point of all of this?

He couldn’t bring himself to accept the “truths” that were placed before him. He could not bring himself to believe that this life was just a holding pattern, or that it was nothing more than a random collection of carbon and rock.

He couldn’t stand in either camp. The more he thought about it, is seemed that there were more than just the two. There were political camps, religious camps, race, class, national lines separating everyone. No two people could even stand together anymore; there was always some sort of distance between them due to all this…nonsense.

That’s not to say that the quest for purpose, identity, or truth is nonsense. Everything that surrounds it absolutely is, though. It was the noise that surrounded the issues, the clutter lying all about, that made it such an impossibly difficult matter for him.

“What am I?” he asked himself silently. Not who; no, who was an even more pointless question. He would settle for simply knowing what he was.

He thought back to his walk through town the day before. So many signs in windows, saying things like, “Come as you are,” and “All are welcome here.” None of it was true, though, was it? Come as you are, leave as what we turn you into. All are welcome here, until they do something we don’t like.

Some would tell you that purpose was innate, and that everyone was born with it, or that some power in the sky determined it before time began. Others would say that life was meaningless and purposeless, a series of random, worthless events. The wisest people he knew said that purpose was chosen, that things and people have no purpose or value until someone gives it to them. He wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, but it rang true for him. It felt right; then again, maybe he shouldn’t trust his gut in matters such as these.

So much division, so little communication. Everyone fights, and no one wins. So many voices screaming, so many people forgoing peace and instead giving into the chaos.

He smirked to himself. “No chill” indeed.

“I don’t agree with any of them, and I trust even fewer of them,” he mumbled.

How does one determine the truth when there is so much that they hold in question? Untethered and washed out to sea, it felt as if there was nothing to hold onto. The waves that crashed all around his mind wished only to suffocate him further as he drowned, falling deeper and deeper into his own doubts.

A rain drop splashed on his forehead, breaking his concentration. He gasped in surprised, and his eyes flew open. Above, the stars had hidden themselves behind the clouds, and a slight sprinkling began to drip down to the earth below.

He sighed and closed his eyes once more. He knew he would never find a satisfactory answer. He knew he would always be seeking something more concrete than what he held on to. Tonight, the time had come to let it all go and simply rest. He continued to lie there as the sprinkling became a soft downpour, washing away his anxiety and self doubt, if only for a while. He released the pent-up worry within and simply…existed…for a while.

When the clouds went away and he was once again alone with his thoughts, these questions would rise once more. Thanks to the calm provided by the storm, however, he would be ready. He would be prepared. And so it would go, day after day, until…well, until he knew for sure, one way or the other.


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