The Low

Originally published on Medium.com

It’s when we’re stuck on the outside, looking in. At the foot of the mountain, neck craned towards the summit. Lost in the dark, yearning for a spark to light the way.

The depression. The trough. The hadal zone.

Photograph of the hazy image of a person on the far side of a white surface, hands splayed against it as though trying to push through
Photo by Stefano Pollio on Unsplash

It’s where we find ourselves imprisoned, trapped by the outside forces pushing back against us as much as by our own inner conflict and doubts.

It is the Low.

… a studio apartment left cold and dark because the utilities company just cut the power until last month’s bill gets paid …

… a cubicle surrounded by the cacophony of the corporate grind, discordant brand values, and toxic workplace politics …

… that endlessly blinking cursor on a blank page the night before the deadline …

… the familiar, suffocating grip of paralysis as the nightly panic attack sets in …

It looks and feels and comes on us all differently, but it oppresses with an egalitarian indifference.

We all end up in it. Maybe just once. Or perhaps you’ll feel yourself slide back into the depths with punishing regularity.

It holds on and no matter how strong your determination to dig yourself out, it presses you back down implacably. It nudges into your mind when you try to think, to focus, work, make love, or fall asleep.

The greatest demons aren’t the ones that roar, but those which tenderly cling to us in our most vulnerable moments. They whisper to us in the voice of logic, explaining all the reasons we shouldn’t try so hard, reach so far.

Why we’re not good enough.

It has nothing to do with courage or resolve. It doesn’t matter whether you have a plan or are taking a leap of faith. We can all end up down there just the same. Whether or not you fall in this time around is the matter of a coin toss — if you’re just tired enough, just anxious enough, just threatened or lonely enough.

It is the monster in the dark. The unbearable weight. The endless climb.

Yet, it can be defeated. Overcome. You can climb out.

When it traps you, erecting bars of doubt, it will strive to distract you from a simple truth: this cage, for all it is formidable, is fragile. It may hold you for hours or days or years. You have the power to knock it down, though, with nothing more than your refusal to the demons’ malignant logic.

They will urge you to see that you don’t have what it takes, that you don’t want it badly enough.

“But I do.”

Whisper it back to your demons. Throw it in their faces. Sing it with every ounce of passion you have and scream it until you’re hoarse. Then say it again. And again. And again.

Because you do have what it takes. Because you do want it badly enough.

Never. Stop. Saying. It.

Photograph of the inside of a tower from the bottom, looking up
Photo by Aron Van de Pol on Unsplash

The dream won’t get you there on its own. You’ll have to put in the effort, take guidance from others, commit endless mistakes, and re-mark your calendar when set-backs postpone your hopes. But none of it will ever happen without that gut-deep, unbroken insistence that you will fight on.

You will never stop waking up in the hope that today is your day. Because someday it will be and you’ll find yourself rising from the end of the climb, looking down at the prison’s depths, free.


©2018 Sarah A. Easley – All Rights Reserved