On Faith

To have faith is to believe in the invisible, and to always err on the side of positivity.

It is dark, and your body cries for rest. Surrender, it pleads. But you carry on, albeit on hands and knees, bloodied wounds flowing out onto the forest floor, a poisonous shower for the life all around. Blindly, you venture through thick foliage, thorny weeds that block out every trace of light. Gnarly branches twist your body into contortion, poke into your belly, trip you, knees and hands sinking into the soft, wet mud. You look up; somewhere, there must be daylight. If you could only see the trail ahead of you, you could pull yourself to your feet. Reaching out a fragile, feeling hand, you look for clues, inspiration. Hands bitten and scratched by some unknown enemy, you recoil sharply. Alien shapes and textures lie ahead of you, unwelcome sounds and perilous terrain.

Silence, stillness, seem to be the only remedy for the fear of creeping through the dark. Settle your legs into the goo. Wiggle your toes.

Breath, like music bouncing off the walls of your skeleton. Breath, fast and shallow.

But the surrender offers no safety. The sound of your panicking being instills further fear, further instability. The hairs at the nape of your neck rise, a chill panting through your trembling body. In the pitch darkness, you feel hyper-aware of eyes on you, the sounds of silent watchers who can see what is invisible to you. The ground itself becomes blurry. You begin to sink, dark matter eating away at your fingertips, your palms, your wrists…

Moving forward is the only step towards solace.

Hesitantly, determined, a movement towards whatever lies ahead. Your hand creeps up a few centimetres. Mud loses its grip, as your knees slide through it. The symphony of hyperventilation is joined by the familiar, soothing sound of your body moving through the mud.

Then, a firefly. Lit only for a brief measure of time, fleeting, extinguished. A cigarette fizzling out during a wet season. In the face of the luxurious light, a glimpse. Not of your surroundings, no. It was too quick. When the light finally came, you looked for yourself. You saw your hands pressing into the softly decaying leaves. Caked in brown, matter stuck under your fingernails, pressed against your sweaty palms.

This is the push you needed. You remember, all at once, how it feels to inhabit your body. From all fours, like the other creatures that likely lurk in the darkness around you, you pull yourself to stand. You feel the blood within you move into the columns of your legs. The fuzzy sensation in your head as it redistributes. Breath, again, is the saviour you turn to. In. Out. Reminding yourself of who you are. Reminding yourself that you have already taken your first steps. Legs like great tree trunks, rooted several metres down, ancient. Another breath and your shoulders float into position. With a little convincing, they open and are at rest.

Standing tall, you progress forward.

Olivia Spahn-Vieira - planksip
Olivia Spahn-Vieira is a Toronto-based writer, musician, and storyteller.
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