At first, I was happy. I walked on the path. I enjoyed the blue flowers and the patches of grass. I breathed in the sky and stared at the clouds. The air danced around me, as my feet sunk into earth. I listened to the birds and sang right along. I lived the life around me.
I met a man and we started a story. His path joined mine and our hands intertwined. It was love. It was ours. We walked on the path.
But today is different. Today started long ago. I became obsessed. My hand stayed in his, yet I looked all around. My grip loosened as I veered off the path. I used my free hand to explore what I could. And I ignored him.
I ignored him.
He didn’t let go. I knew that he loved me. His loose grip helped me keep what I have, but it’s not enough. Not enough for me. I need more. This cannot be all. When I was 13, I dreamed of things— fame and fame, and love and fame. And I watched all these people reach the places I couldn’t. And I obsessed with the stories of the people around me.
Days into months and months into years. Screens came around me like walls of opportunity. A world I could build, a place I could manage, a way to measure the worth that stemmed deep inside. So I grabbed at the screens to digest their promise. Building and making, becoming and measuring.
So I ate it all, and I starved myself.
I pushed on the screens and the screens became me. And the worlds became real. And I was a shadow. I let go of him long, long ago. I don’t even remember when his grip became vacancy.
I am so far gone.
I pulled and ballooned and expressed to expand. The screens grew taller, and my image grew bigger. But my heart grew smaller and my purpose was empty.
I yearned and I screamed. And I hoped for more. But I wanted his grip, the path of before. Without the screens of a promised world or an image of value. This path held no promise, after all. But I keep trying harder, because maybe it does.
So I keep eating just to starve myself.
Nothing but bones, buried life, no hope. Chasing for something that makes me a shadow. Trying to become someone of value on a screen with no life. This endless hunger, the empty fullness, but I keep on eating just to starve myself.
The screens of opportunity, of sharing, of fame, of stories, of lives I can never have–they mock me and taunt me. They starve me.
But today is different. Today I’m too gaunt to move anymore, to read other stories, to try to become, to stare at perfection, and share my known image.
Today, I sink down on a path so worn and I bury tired eyes in weak, bony hands. But then the hour passes, and I look all around. My fingers shake as I trace it. Slowly at first, but the act becomes frantic.
A deep, worn circle of my footprints trails round and round and round. And here I sit, in the middle. The middle of me.
I thought they were huge, but the screens are hardly anything at all. You can hold them, carry them in your hands, control them, forsake them. They are only screens. I stare longer, as they become shadows. And I become real.
How had I ever been so lost? I feel it gently at first. Rough, worn hands…but they aren’t mine. The grip isn’t loose, it is tight. So tight. He’s here. He never left.
I was the one that left. For screens and stories that didn’t belong to me. So, I could eat and starve myself. So, I could live in stories not mine. So, I could obsess and be someone great. So, I could compare and live in the endless, pointless, starving worlds—these places that don’t even belong to me.
He lets go of my hand just to wash my hair and he wipes the dirt from my weary face. He gives me fresh clothes, and he kisses my forehead. This is real. This doesn’t starve.
I step from my circle–the circle of me. And this time I am the one to take his hand first. He walks to the path—our very own path. This story. Our story. Real life.
My feet sink into fresh earth. I am no longer a shadow. I hear the birds, and I breathe in the sky. Forsaking what could be, what might be, what may be…I fall into the present. This is mine. This is ours. I am no longer starved.
He holds my hand tighter and my laugh starts out small, but it balloons, and expands as the expression pours forth! This is real.
Screens are shadows. I obsessed with the stories that didn’t belong me. I ate them all. And I couldn’t digest anything. I starved myself to fill myself.
But I am no longer G AU NT. I hold his hand. I feel the breeze and I breathe the air. I kiss his hand. This is ours. This is real.
We are not shadows.
And I don’t have to starve.