― W. Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil
Me, the living dead, a zombie of a man, a tortured and near empty soul made void by the very thing that I sought to deliver me from the pain of existence. I sought Them. The caretakers of darkness, who, pawning their wares to this little child, made sure their victory. Taking their empty promise, I swallowed the hook and ran. They, laughing, knew it was a matter of time before they would pull up hard on that line and watch me struggle valiantly, but in vain, against the taught leash. I jumped, thrashing against the line, but into their hold I fell. In the misery of the company around me, I saw I wasn’t alone in my plight. There were many who, in an act of innocence, in an attempt at living, took the camouflaged snare, and, like myself, struggled to retract their explorations and be safe again. Years have passed now, a blur of feigned life, an echo of songs long since expired. My hands reached out of their cage many times, hoping to connect with freedom. I found my release, unexpectedly, born on the wings of tumultuous circumstance. My cage was thrown to the wild waves, into a deep sea of desperation, leaving me, in heaving labored breaths, to struggle against the inevitable. Death. Cold and final. Release. It wasn’t my end, but my beginning. Spring, bringing tender green shoots and a fresh vitality, broke me from the seed that bore my soul. In a dance of liberty that only those who are long held captive can know, I spun around and around in delighted exuberance of the death that brought life. Captured and prostituted soul, find your open door through a death. But not a death, a door. For how can it be called death when you live again? It is a door, not an end, but an eternal beginning.