Sometimes you feel you’ve gone out. Like a candle. Maybe the wind was too strong. Maybe the wick bent in a weird way, curled up on itself, turned into that little crystallised black snail that won’t catch fire again, no matter how much you poke it with a match.
That moment, what you fear the most is – it’s not the wind. It’s not the wick. The candle has simply burned down. And even the strongest fire can only make it flash for a moment, melt the pathetic remains of the wax, and leave this black, curled up little snail of a wick lying on its side. Empty. Cold.
What do you do? You panic at first, and you keep striking matches, haphazardly, sloppily, in a hurry – one, another, five, ten of them. But the flame just won’t stick. And you think – this is it. It’s gone. There’s only so long you can burn. There’s only so much a human – this human – can do and feel.
Then you sit there in the dark. Surrounded by all those dead matches and a few drops of hardened wax that can’t really do anything for you anymore. You feel just like them. That you can’t… do… anything… real… anymore.
Then you do the only things you still can. Small things. Small things that keep life running. Try to minimise the chaos around you, hoping that it will help abate some of the chaos inside you. Little by little, you have to re-teach yourself things you thought you could never forget.
You succeed, you fail, you try to focus more on every little success than every little failure (these days, everything is little; it’s the only way to keep things under control). You keep going, and every now and again, there’s a day at the end of which you find yourself happy. You go to bed satisfied with what you’ve done. It is, at the time, a rare and unusual feeling, and you cherish it, enough to try and feel it again. So you do. You try. Another day. Another. It doesn’t always work. But every so often, as you lay your head down, there’s a part of it that thinks – I’ve done well today. For a while, that’s all you’re getting. You think this is all you’ll be getting now. And you’re alright with that. That’s more than you’ve had for a long time.
And then, suddenly, when you least expect it, when you don’t even think to expect it, the fire finds you again.
It can be anything. An image. A note. A word.
It punches you in the stomach, just like you remember. Exactly like you remember. Again. The fire.
And then you think that maybe, just maybe, the small things didn’t go to waste. That you hadn’t run as down, as empty, as dry as you’d thought. Maybe – just maybe! – all the little things you’ve done, they helped chip away the wax thrown around by the wind, helped straighten the wick that had curled up on itself.
You were wrong. It’s not over. There’s still a lot of it left. Plenty of wax. Plenty of wick.