One Hundred Years of Solitude

He had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.

    - Gabriel Garcia Marquez - One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967)

There is an insatiable restlessness that slowly creeps up my spine as a change nears. Like the flight or fight response that evolutionists tout as the basic behavior of fear, my nerves tense in anticipation of something soon to come. They are ready, even if the rest of me isn’t, for that unknowable future that will befall at any moment. Yet I have to wonder about this unease and its usefulness. Is it helpful to me? Does it provide some security to be on guard, excited, or otherwise energized?

The important things are done. My life is tidy, the various threads in order. There is nothing to provoke this nervousness, but still it comes. It forces my mind to parallels and analogies, of times, in particular, that I wasn’t so prepared for the same.

Things take the shape of a great cloud of doom that approaches from the West, and I, fatigued, broken, struggle to run away on legs too short and insufficient. Foliage tears at my feet, grasping my ankles, pulling me to the ground again and again; all the while I know that the running is hopeless. Even if there were a destination, that cloud will overtake me long before I make my way anywhere important.

And it is at times like these of fearful clarity that I recognize what it is that terrifies me so much as to drive all logic and planning away and leave me shaking, unable to concentrate or breathe deeply. I fear that small spark of mortality to which I cling with endless pride and selfishness. It is a fear not of letting go, but of being unable to do so. What if I cannot surrender myself to this? What if the temptations of flesh or food, of rest and rain, of any and everything, of this world cannot be broken? There I see condemnation, failure.

So I run, careful to cut the ties with my planning and organization, careful to avoid the connections that might bind me immutably to this place or these people. After-all, wasn’t it St. Augustine who said, “Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.” Let me be away from all things and let my time here be short, for I am not strong enough to keep there long.

Of course, the panic settles after a few deep breaths and I remember that I’m not alone. There’s no fear in being too weak to go through this alone. God is with me, hand-in-hand. I can grasp for His strength and it is always there ready to lift me up and past these fears. It is a battle won in His service, not with guns and swords, but with an open and steady heart that gives itself over rather than being its own keeper.

The fear remains, but I don’t shake now. My hands are held steady and I am ready again to take a step forward, and another, until my time does come. Sometimes the simplest decisions are the most important, and the most difficult. The decision to wake up each day and say to Him, “Yes, I still believe,” is sometimes all I can bear to give, and it has to be enough.

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