After pressuring and prodding myself, shaping my days, moulding some possible future one choice at a time, for weeks, or months, I begin to crumble. The mould closes in all around and the edges I shaped weeks ago harden into sharp fins and jagged points. I'm in a meat grinder.
Sometimes giving up feels the best. I give up, wholly and fully. I say: perhaps tomorrow I'll die, perhaps not - it doesn't matter either way. Perhaps I'll become homeless. Perhaps I'll die of exposure, of a heart attack, of a stroke, of Covid-19. Perhaps I'll lose what little I have, that I have not earned, or that I might ever earn. Perhaps I'll lose my humanity in the eyes of everyone I know or might ever know. Perhaps possibility itself will vanish. So what? I don't care. I give up.
Giving up only hurts if you haven't truly given up. Giving up hurts only when you continue to cling to a notion, a status, a winning, a losing - some decision about who were, are, or who you ought to be.
Imagine a broad silk sail, drifting aloft above a torch, unwinding from a massive spool. As it raises up, bits are tacked to a wall. I play an instrument. Tack. I graduated college. Tack. I develop a skill. Tack. I turn 30. Tack. I turn 40. Tack. Tack. Tack. This goes on for years. But the tacks are getting uncomfortable, the shape is contorted and stressed.
Then the torch is doused. Suddenly the sail begins to sink. The looser tacks drop out under the weight of the cloth. But some of the tacks remain; they were hammered in hard or they were rusted over. Whatever. The sail flags limp, not rising to the heavens, not falling to the earth. It is stuck to these immovable tacks. Then the wind picks up.
Now the silk is jetting and beating and whiping and roiling in the wind. Like a violent sea of serpents afraid for their lives, the sail cannot remain where it is. The wind begins to tear the fabric away from its fixtures, and yet still some cloth remains pegged to the wall, frayed and straggled. When the wind finally takes it, it is a shredded mess, blown in all directions, no longer a recognizable whole.
Or, a kindly caretaker could remove the tacks when the torch is burnt out. Perhaps the sail will fall to the ground where it can be respooled, the torch relit, and process begun again. Or perhaps the tacks will be gone by the time the storm comes, and the cloth can fly out with the wind.