The Gift of Despair

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“He fumbled again for his notebook. He remembered when it was new, when he had looked at it and said: “One day you will be dog-eared and dimpled, filled with substance and inconsequence, like an obese cadaver on a mortuary slab”. He noticed some words scratched into the back page from an inkless pen:

I am the hypocrite of a thousand petals
The hole of my life is the empty
eyeball grimace of a skull
I am a ragged flower
A hybrid of deadly nightshade
Of foxglove phantasies
Of morning glory
Of unfantastic gloriousness
I dwell in the suburbs of hell

He remembered the precise moments when those words first came into being. He had not been especially unhappy, but the words just tumbled prophetically out of his mind like grains of salt being ground onto the page. And therein lay Nathan’s ‘undoing’ so often in his days. For, on the one hand, he knew he had powers beyond common human experience. Yet, on the other hand, he found it easy to descend into a pit of despair and self-loathing. He told himself that this was an inescapable paradox to keep him humble — to prevent him from thinking too highly of himself. On one occasion (which I alone seem to remember) he mentioned that it was an angelic being who had given him “the gift of despair”, as he put it. He said that this being had come to him in a dream, saying “You humans have such unaccountable egos that this is the finest way to rein you in.” So Nathan had a wound — a necessary one, in his view.”
© Alan Morrison, 2014

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