Fire blazed all around, embers and the heat threatening the soles of my feet. Above me I saw layers of crimson, red and maroon; intermingling with painful shades of yellow and orange. Cracks appeared where I was, and lava seeped through. I stood on an island of coal which was rapidly succumbing to the conflagration, greatly diminishing from all sides. Soon I will only have a circle to stand on, which will be the last of my solid footing. Scorching winds threatened to melt off my face, and the hair on my body had already been singed to the skin. Burns were slowly erupting all over the body, as I proficiently managed to breathe from the ashes and coal dust. Inferno it was; full of anguish, pain, and roasting.
It is difficult for me to often accept and apportion my affectionate nihilism and my willingness to sit back with a drink and watch the world burn. Which is as acceptable to many as it is comfortable for me. Nevertheless, there are a few who’d help me mix the drinks. People who have chosen the third side in a dichotomy and the fourth in a trichotomy. People who violently debate with themselves within, but remain unruffled on the surface, with a grin that’s often interpreted as a smirk. People who question every notion of power and authority internally, yet with a nod to the omnipresent evident hypocrisy grab it with both hands. People who know their flaws, but neither do they wear it as armour nor do they let them weaken them – they acknowledge them as what they are, traits which shape them equally as the strengths. People, who do not plan world domination, but neither do they allow any encroachment in their own spheres.
People tend to stay away from us. Not because of what we look like, we look pretty normal, thank you very much. It’s for how we look at life like. It’s easier to accept a strangled sense of abandonment when it is due to your inner outcast, rather than your outer anomaly. For what it’s worth, we dislike having most people around us too, so that suits us. We’ve spiralled into the sea of perceived madness, but we weren’t pushed. We fell on our backs into it, arms outstretched, with closed eyes and a mirthless smile on our face. The question then, is what drove us to the edge.
What drove us? Neither wrongs nor rights. Never good nor bad. We walked past the average choices. We tore open the gates of tendentious righteousness barred via a thick smog of hollow and pretentious morality; guarded by the fragile arms of society’s respect and norms. The most important player, however, came from us ourselves. We thought. We were skeptics – are too, if not more. We thought more than the average brain, and modesty was never our virtue. If you think, you eventually question things and their value to the extent of total futility. Futility of purpose, need, and legitimate-ness. We sought a black cat in a dark room, a cat which was definitely there, until we reached the abyss and it stopped; glared at us and leaped.
Much to Nietzche’s vindication, we looked into the abyss and it returned the favour. We weren’t the only ones there – many were retrieved by ‘counselors’; and many shivered at the abyss.
“ ..We both looked into the abyss, but when it looked back at us, you blinked.”
— Batman, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
Humanity needs cages, mankind needs borders. A sense of belonging isn’t the cause of the border, it is the root of it. But inside the borders, there are voices – voices which whisper and scream, reason and argue about the matters within and out. These voices are in us all, you and me included. They are in the multitude, some louder than the others, while the others are more convincing. We didn’t choose the loudest or the most convincing, as most do, we listened to them all. We gave each voice a platform to stand on it’s own, giving it the required opportunity to justify and make sense. We refused to be the judge, bound by a set of established laws, and instead became the jury – with our own reasoning and logic to feed upon. Which is why we ended up on the edge, we weren’t there as an accident. We were there because we chose to be there.
Maybe we are more enticed towards Lucifer’s Inferno than Christ’s Heaven. Closer, on the periphery, we’ve seen the brochures of both. We refuse the gates of heaven and stay adrift of the volcano of hell. And from above the hell and beneath the heaven, we see the beauty of hell and the darker undertones of heaven, and we smile.
Never belonged then, nor now.
I looked below as lava approached my feet, and I heard a cry. It was more of a screech, coming from something fearless. It wasn’t a cry of fear, it was as natural as a wolf’s howl at full moon. It was the cry of a beast in his habit, habitat and comfort. As I looked up, a majestic bird came into view, with colours of scarlet and gold, a plumage of fire, and a tail of shining amber. It shrieked at me, as I raised my hands. It lifted me up, and carried me away as the last of my old footing succumbed to the inferno. I saw a sea of fire, and as the bird rose up and up, I could see the beauty of an ablaze bottom. I knew that far far above me were the cool winds of heaven, where sweet music played of the lyre, but I knew I belonged only in the phoenix’s pyre.