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No Problem

I’ve been in labyrinths before. Like an escape room with not enough time or clues, most happenings in life come amped with pressure but also with hope, that you’ll make it through. Vague or not, there are a set of universal rules that you can always refer to, for someone in your life may have been through it too. You ask for advice and prayers, swim through the waves of blue, and gradually you watch the walls around you reduce.

I’ve been as small as a mouse in a maze scurrying all alone, but moving towards a goal rest assured. I’ve donned on armors strong enough to wade through labyrinths and destroy the Minotaur. To be in a labyrinth or a warren, a mesh of webs or a maze – it’s like God’s harmless game. Where He drops us down for His own amusement but creates little walls so our meandering still remains framed. Where we bounce around amongst the walls and pray for release, and eventually find mere breadcrumbs that lead the way.

I am used to being in structured chaos – a problem that is tangible, a puzzle with walls. Even if I am dropped in a box with absolutely nothing at all. The absence of things in a place is not the same as an abyss. Nothing is not the same as nothingness. Fumbling around in a maze is not the same as the suspension of time and space. It no longer feels like the part of a grand design, when you don’t know where to plug in your own existence.

An abyss with no dead-ends as warnings or shadows to point to the light. There’s nothing for my windmilling limbs to hold on to and there’s no beast to confront or fight. There’s no one to blame or turn against because there is no problem in sight. The maze has room for movement, an invitation to explore, and the promise of coming out the other side. The abyss is a black hole where everything simply ceases to exist. A void so large and consuming, even my screams are mere whispers swept away with the wind. A gorge so dark and blinding, I spend days trying to figure out what is up and what is down – I’ve spent years trying to simply find my footing.

When someone peers in from the top of the maze, they see I’m not stuck in some sort of craze. They see a puzzle and they see a goal, and somehow there, my pain has been visually legitimized. Even as I sit in a maze with absolutely nothing, there is still a path I seem to be following. There is direction, there is hope, there is substance that helps in justifying. But when someone asks me what’s wrong and I shrug and say nothing, it isn’t a bad attempt at fibbing to get out of a conversation that may be brewing.

I mean to speak of the nothingness. There is no light and there is no time and there is no space. There is no structure to navigate in this suffocating haze. There are no extremes; only lukewarm sentiments and a chronic blandness that leaves me as a body waiting to decay. They tell me to get a grip but swimming in nothingness is like grabbing hot grainy sand in a tightly clenched fist that remains completely still. Regardless of how tightly I hold on, I am reminded of how many holes I have within for the sand still finds an escape slipping through my fingers, riding in the wind.

Like a sieve that undoubtedly does exist but everything just passes through it, I spend too many days lying in an abyss of nothingness where I am sure my steps don’t leave any imprints and my identity has been burned off my fingertips. There is no beast to slay or problem to solve, there is nothing actually wrong. But just because I’m not in a labyrinth doesn’t mean there isn’t a mess. Nothing is not the same as nothingness.

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