This is the way the world ends.

Datta: what have we given?
My friend, blood shaking my heart
The awful daring of a moment’s surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed
Which is not to be found in our obituaries

The Wasteland, TS Eliot.

I have a hard time writing about faith. I grew up Baptist, a pastor’s kid — being a “good witness” was drilled into me at an early age. I was responsible for causing others to stumble or to follow the right path, for growing closer to God or drifting away from him. Who will be in heaven because of you? Who will be in hell? Guilt, guilt, guilt.

Dude. Come on. That’s a lot of responsibility for a kid, especially a kid who would have some easily foreseeable rebellious tendencies once she hit adolescence. But I dutifully packed that guilt up and carried it with me. Added it to the guilt I carry for others. It’s heavy. It’s brutal. It’s unnecessary.

I’m tired, man. So tired.

Knight. Waterhouse.

Life does not get easier as we get older. We lose people, lose ourselves, and if we’re somewhat intelligent, come to a point where we have to face the truth of who we are, who we’ve been, and who we think we should be. Do we let go of our expectations? Do we let go of the expectations of others? Realizing you are not the person you thought you were after life hits you hard — perhaps you’re brittle, or shattered, or simply incapable of returning to your former shape — is humbling. It hurts. It can become a well of shame and guilt that seems impossible to escape.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

The Hollow Men. TS Eliot.

Perhaps it is all perspective, however. Coming out the other side of life-changing events can be bittersweet. Being able to look at yourself and see a new creation is freedom. Admit to yourself that you have no answers, but that you are not wholly broken. Things are not as you imagined they would be, (or what others imagined for you), but they are now yours — this is now your life.

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

The Hollow Men. TS Eliot.

And maybe you can’t hear God, or feel God, or even imagine him. That may change, but right now, you are alone. This is either the loss of faith or a paradigm shift. Some people lose their faith immediately after hardship hits; others experience a gradual diminishing, so subtle that one day you wake and realize that it’s gone. And that it has been for a long, long time.

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

The Hollow Men. TS Eliot.

However you see it, losing faith is the chance to embrace something real. Allowing yourself to accept the idea that no one but you is responsible for your life and your happiness can lead to the life you want to live. Not rebellion against your childhood god, but a reframing of the way you see how life can be lived. There is no joy or pride in rebellion. It is childish. Churlish. Simple. Each moment that follows this one must be deliberate, not reactive — and rebellion is nothing but a reaction to forces outside our control.

For Thine is

Life is

For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

The Hollow Men. TS Eliot.

Embrace this life, regardless of the hand you’re dealt. Make it your own.

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