(Title mostly from Dream Theater’s Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence, probably one of the most personally meaningful albums I’ve ever listened to.)
Someone posted this just as I sat down to get a few things out of my head, and it struck me, because it was very closely related to what I was going to write here anyway.
Yes, the possibilities for anyone are nearly infinite. That’s the beauty of free will: we don’t know what’s going to happen, but we do know we are not bound by some cosmic force pushing us onto a predetermined path. Our choices are our own, although our opportunities are not.
The problem lies not in the paths available to us, but the very real possibility that none of those many paths lead us to what we seek. When no road takes you forward, what then? Theists have no answer but to tell us to keep trying, that it’ll all somehow work out in the end. Nihilists can’t even offer that much. Neither extreme is fulfilling in any real sense. If we have no purpose, why bother continuing on? And if our purpose has already been set, why bother playing along? In both cases, we are not the masters of our own destiny, so can we say our lives truly belong to us?
I have been on that road to nowhere for a very long time now. Unlike the creator of the above picture, I don’t see infinitely many paths ahead of me. Rather, I see them, but I can find no way to change my lane to get to them. Those paths, as far as I can tell, are for other people, stronger people, people who haven’t been beaten into surrender and submission by the world around them.
Acceptance is the final stage of the grieving process, we’re told. I now wonder if it is the final stage of depression itself. Should I accept that I’ll never stand at the altar beside my beloved, that I’ll never have the chance to hold in my arms the child I fathered? Do I accept that I’ve failed in my attempts at building a life for myself, and try to create something of the wreckage that is left?
None of those paths look very promising, if you ask me. Yet I can’t help but think all the good ones are already closed off to me.