“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven,” says Satan in Paradise Lost as he tries to make the best of his banishment. And that’s the devil for you. Doesn’t matter what you believe in, evil is human nature’s fundamental flaw. Most people are able to keep it at bay, mostly because they’ve been exposed to more good than bad. Life blesses some people that way. Others know nothing but pain and struggle. Fear and anxiety. It becomes so common it’s a normal way of life. The only way, so it seems. For the troubled and tormented, there was never a paradise to lose.
It’s basic psychology that how you grow to perceive the world lies solely in the environment you’re born into. It’s luck of the draw really. Some call is fate. Others call it karma. Why we come into this world with the reality we’re faced with has been a topic of research since the dawn of conscious thought. Some people are perfectly happy with next to nothing while others are drowning in the misery of their own materialism and lack of self love. The less fortunate seem to have endless suffering. Being planted in a garden of manure with little to no sunshine leaves a small chance for growth.
One of my students said it best when she told me “these kids have nothing to live for.” Unfortunately for troubled some, this statement is true. Living in poverty, violence, disappointment, anxiety, and hardened sadness has the ability to turn anyone, no matter how good their intentions may be. There is no self care. It’s hard to find the light when you’re buried under the burning barrel of a gun. It seems like the only option is to play in the fire.
Regardless of the circumstance, everyone is given a choice of which road to take. We either go down the road of the same pain we grew up with because it’s familiar, or we take our chances on the unknown in hopes of a better life. This sounds like an easy enough choice, but it’s harder than it sounds. The latter is scarier because it’s more work, less familiar, and the outcome is unknown. We prefer to stick to what we know, even if what we know we know isn’t right, or even what we really want.
For some people living for themselves apparently isn’t enough. Somewhere down the line they were taught that they weren’t good enough, smart enough, strong enough. Somewhere down the line they were taught there was only one way, this path of pain, and that paradise was exiled for them from the very beginning. It’s too hard to believe, then, when someone tries to lead you to light. Learning isn’t very difficult, but unlearning is a task only the strong will take on.
And if they refuse, then that is their path to take and choice to make. Unfortunately the ones who need the most love are the same people you should stay away from. This is where the word “toxic” comes in. People will play their pain onto everyone, and if you’re not careful, you’ll get sucked into the vortex and dragged down to their personal hell. How deep this goes depends on the person. How far you’re willing to stray from your own truth and value is tested. We’re all on a journey of choice and consequence. Do your best to stay on your own path.
It’s true that you can’t change anyone, you can only change yourself. There are some real angels in the world who will try and lead the inflicted to light, but ultimately the acceptance of guidance can only be granted by the person to whom it’s offered. If a person wants to suffer, then suffering it is. As time goes by, the offers and chances dwindle like a candle burns through wax. And then only darkness ensues.
So choose the path of the light, no matter how dim it may seem. Dark tunnels lead to a brighter endings. We may not know what’s outside, but we definitely know what is in— darkness. And is that really something you want to live with forever? The choice is yours.
Want to read more like this? Check out To the Broken Being.