The waves collided and crashed in the distance. I rested on the bed of sand, sinking into the beige grains every instance I regretted to think. High above and some ways back, mountainous ridges held tourists scouting the land. Like adventurers in a new realm, they ogled at the sights and captured images of what the eyes portray better.
Grass, ranging from tall patches of vibrant green to dry plots of decayed turf, adorned the feet of the rock walls behind me. The grass, no matter its measure of saturation, swayed in the cool breeze like ribbons being sashayed. The bold magenta wildflowers tittered at the various hues of green, as if they could dance to the tune of the wind more elegantly.
But every time the bitter air whooshed against the bush, the magnificent blossoms would lose their petals. After some time, I knew they wouldn’t stand to lose any more. Such is life however; flowers lose their petals just as the clouds cover the sun. It is an inescapable truth, yet it isn’t the reality I fear. I know such loss— such darkness— is to occur, but what I often wonder is how will I conjure the strength to see myself through it?
Then it hits me: I have no idea what strength really is.
A second before I arrived at the beach, I had awoken in my room, only to realize my window was closed and the blinds were tightly bound. No shower of luminosity was there to greet me as I wake. I just sat amidst the darkness. It was becoming a trend I couldn’t stand.
There was a pounding on my head, like a multitude of ceaseless chatter was rapping at the chamber of my mind’s door.
How do I stop it? How did I ever stop it before?
Even the beauty of nature seemed only to remind me of how uncertain I’d truly become of my own strength. I still couldn’t figure it out. How it manifested. How it endured.
A young woman with a great alikeness to myself, approached me cautiously.
“Are you crying?” she wondered aloud.
I cleared my throat awkwardly and tried to rub away the trace amounts of liquid that had spilled over the brims of my lashes.
She plopped along the sand and smiled. The white lace of her dress skimmed along the granular floor as she wiggled her toes into the cool beige. She spoke with a clear, vibrant tone, “Don’t cry. Though if you can’t stop, it’s okay.”
Her eyes glimmered like copper under intense light.
“Tears fall, as do hopes, and as do fears,” she went on, “Sometimes, life slips out of our control. Bad things happen, and we’re too scared to know what to do. In one second, how we live can be dismantled. In two seconds, we can become undone. But after a minute, you’ll find that everything you hoped could be, can be created if that is what you will.”
“How did you-,”
“Why were you crying?” she interrupted obliviously.
“Um, I guess I’m just scared of losing myself,” I started unconvincingly. I sighed after her sparkling stare penetrated my weak exterior, “And I tried to run away from my problems, only to discover they’d waited for my return. I’m overwhelmed and I’m scared of unraveling. I’m terrified of not having the strength to fight what I don’t want to be.”
“And that’s why you’re upset?”
I shifted with uncertainty, “I think so. I’m not sure of how I get so lost, so I suppose that’s part of the problem. I am a victim of my own creation. My fear, my hopelessness, my rage, I bring it all upon myself. I get so scared of losing the strength I need to find myself that I become stifled and allow the darkness to regain existence. I’m my own worst enemy.”
“You’re also your greatest savior,” her tone was so even, so convincing.
“Why look at you now! You fought your mind and you lost!”
My brow furrowed, “That’s encouraging.”
She laughed a melody, “You lost the battle in which victory ceases to exist. You should rejoice, because by opening your eyes to what you lost, you fought through all the darkness you first refused to see past.”
“So, I should be happy?”
“No,” she murmured while leaning towards me, “You should feel free.”
I glanced at the waves as they tumbled over one another. Some smacked against boulders near the land and burst into a flurry of spray and foam. Though the sun was setting, its rays had pierced through the clouds of gray and the luminosity of the setting star warmed the flesh of my body like no other sensation.
My cheeks stretched high, “It feels amazing.”
The strange young woman sighed contently, “Yeah, being happy can do that to you.”
I fixed her with a funny stare, “I meant the sun.”
After a moment, I blinked, “Okay, so I’m content for this fleeting moment, but what happens if I get lost again?”
She shrugged nonchalantly, “Not ‘if’ but ‘when.’ You’ll experience the highs of life and in the lows when you get lost, you shall have to find the strength to endure and open your eyes once more.”
“See? That’s the biggest problem!”
Her eyes were largely innocent, “Knowing that you’re going to face more obstacles in life?”
I shook my head, “Surprisingly, no. It’s figuring out what strength is so I can have it when I need it.”
“Then tell me what it is.”
I groaned into my hands.
She giggled, “Come on, tell the sun what you know before he sets and leaves you cold.”
She nudged me up so I was facing the horizon. As ridiculous as I felt, I knew there was something to be explored from what she said. I huffed, “Strength is…well, it isn’t fighting back.”
Her voice rang behind me, “Why not?”
“Because if it’s anything like battling yourself, you’d just end up in a chaotic cycle of never-ending defeats. No, strength isn’t fighting back. It’s fighting through. Strength is regaining who you are in order to come out of the darkness. It’s loving yourself despite the mentality trying to hold you back.
“Strength is all I have when I pursue what impassions me most. It is every ounce of my will tested through and through. Strength is everything I didn’t think I was and proved to the world I could have. I am strong, and just like so many people, I didn’t realize it at first.”
A chuckle escaped my lips at my cognizance of the once-uncertain ideal. I stood, brazen along the calmed beach, becoming aware of the still glowing sunset.
“How is that possible?” I wondered, “The sun is still shining.”
Like a magenta flower tittering at the swaying greens, a giggle sounded from behind me, “That’s the point. It always will.”
I turned back to see not even an imprint on the bed of beige. I was alone. The warmth of the sun burned my skin and as I returned my eyes to the stagnant sun, I was blinded by white.
I blinked a few times before comprehension enhanced my vision. A shower of luminosity was warming my skin from the open window in my bedroom. I rubbed my eyes before lurching upright in my bed. I observed as the pink sky turned to gold from beyond the translucent substance of my sanctuary.
I laughed almost deliriously, before scratching my head in wonder. I smiled still and shook my head, stretching my arms and throwing off my covers, ready to begin my day.
You see, strength is very much like the morning star, because even when you don’t feel it, you know it’s still there, existing in the vast, blackened universe–proving that there will always be light to shine amidst the dark, just as you will always have strength once you remember it’s there.
-Kiran Bains Sahota