“The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts.” ~ Italo Calvino
You have ghosts.
If I asked you, would you know them? Could you tell me what they look like, the sound of their voices? Could you hold them out towards me, broken and exposed, and tell me their stories?
How well do you know your ghosts?
We all have dead things that we carry around with us. Shattered hopes, fragments of old dreams, scars from our struggles. They are the bad days that never truly leave us, they are the tears that never completely dry from our eyes. A ghost is nothing more than unfinished business.
I am haunted by the risks I didn’t take. The opportunities I missed. The people I could have loved, but didn’t. They come back to me everyday.
I can never fully rinse the blood of my mistakes from my hands.
And yet I welcome my ghosts, when they come to me. I strive to do great things because of them, in spite of them. They are the whispers from the ever-present darkness, yet they guide me forward. Their voices lead the way. If I tell myself I can live, that I will live, with these ghosts inside of me, I break through the shadows. The darkness dissipates around me, falling from my shoulders like a veil. I stumble forward.
I’ve held their hands. I’ve sung to them. I’ve hated them, and I’ve loved them. They have never been friends, but they have never been demons (those are something else entirely). My ghosts represent the lifeless things I have picked up over the years: feelings, people, memories. Some of them are words that were never spoken, some are ideas that were never expressed. Some are chances to say “I love you” that I didn’t take and others are reminders of my failures – the times I fell down and stayed down, and that I am more ashamed of than anything.
But what do we have to live for if not our ghosts? They are what we are trying to prove wrong. We ask it of ourselves to rise above them daily. They are the foundation we must always keep underneath our feet. We build up from them. We stand upon their shoulders.
You must tell yourself: I am more than my ghosts. They are part of me, but they are not all of me.
You must know your ghosts. You must make acquaintances with your dark thoughts. When they cry to you, you must block out the noise. You must know why you can’t listen, why you can’t give in. You must draw your strength from them. When they come forth, you must know their faces. You must familiarize yourself with the blank stares in their eyes.
You must know why they exist.
And most importantly, you must remember why you need to fight them.