It’s pulling me down. I feel so heavy. I can barely stand.
No, I’m being pulled down now. I’m on my knees. Who are these creatures scampering around me? What are they doing with those chains? How come they are so light and fast when I find it so hard to move?
The weight. I’m pinned to the ground. The chains are so heavy. I can’t get free.
They’re going now, those creatures. Gremlins, gnomes, who knows what they are but they’re handy with bolts and blow torches. I’m held fast, too heavy to get off of my back.
Gravity. I’m powerless to resist it. I want to stand but I can’t. Don’t you understand, I can’t. I’m not strong enough.
Oh just leave me alone, then. You don’t care.
It’s getting dark now. Somehow I’m being pulled further down, into a hole, into a cell. Surprisingly, I can still see but it doesn’t matter. There’s nothing to see but the walls.
I look up. Through the open square above me, I can see the night sky. The dark clouds block any hint of the stars.
What’s that scraping sound, like metal against stone?
They’ve come back, those little creatures. They’re dragging something heavy. A lid. A big, metal lid. They mean to seal me into my prison. Why bother? I can’t get out anyway. I can hardly lift my head anymore.
Pitch black now. The top of my cell is in place. I can hear the now familiar sounds of power tools and welding torches securing the bolts and making them fast. No rescuer, no matter how powerful, could ever set me free now.
So be it.
Maybe it’s better this way. At least I’m alone finally. No more tormentors, no more pain, no more hope.
“You really are a fool, you know.”
“What the devil…” I’m startled by the sudden intrusion but so heavy I can’t jump out of fright.
“No, not at all. Actually, I’m just a messenger. I’ve come to give you something.”
He seems like a man but he’s glowing slightly. I can only see his outline. How can he fit in here with me? There’s no room.
He puts something in my hand. “What’s this?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Only you can set yourself free, Ryan. You got yourself into this charming little mess. You can get yourself out.”
“Are you insane? Look at me. Just look at me. I’m chained to the floor. I can’t move a muscle. Even if I could, I’m trapped in this box. The top is a sheet of steel bolted and welded into place. How did you get in here anyway?”
The messenger made a wry chuckling sound. “When you can answer that question, you can get yourself out of here. Good-bye, Ryan. I hope you make it.”
I open my mouth to reply but he’s gone.
I can feel the keys in my right hand. I don’t even know where the locks are. Can’t he see how hopeless I am, how trapped, how heavy.
It’s weighing me down.
How are these stupid keys supposed to help?
Gravity. I can hardly breathe.
Upon hearing of the lonely death of an eccentric millionaire, Howard Hughes, the Rebbe said:
“He felt he could trust no one, for they were all only after his money. For the last twenty years of his life he could only hide from the entire world, without a friend, without any sort of enjoyment of life.
There was a man who had everything, and everything he had was a chain around his neck.
He was like all of us. We hold the keys to our freedom, but we use them to lock ourselves in.”
-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Sitting on the Keys
There’s a Hasidic parable which I wrote about on a blog I no longer maintain, but which seems very relevant to me today. You can find the entire text at Searching for the Light on the Path but the salient quote is from another of Rabbi Tzvi Freeman’s commentaries:
On our own, we cannot reach higher than our own fingertips lifted high.
We cannot break out of our own skin;
we cannot lift ourselves up by pulling at our own hair;
all of our achievements are tied to our own ego;
all that we may comprehend is defined by our own subjective perception.
We are prisoners by virtue of existence.
So G‑d threw us a rope:
He gave us tasks to fulfill that are beyond our grasp;
thoughts to fathom that take us outside the hollow of our subjective universe.
All that is needed is our willingness to leave ourselves.
We are all prisoners. But we sit on the keys.”
I think we make our own prisons and also, that we are our own jailers. That means we can be free anytime we want to be. Why is it you think, that we choose to remain in chains?