A few moments ago I woke from a perfectly reasonable sleep stricken with what Sartre called the nausea. Kierkegaard and Nabokov called it despair, and many other intellectuals refer to it by many different names. I’m not sure how often most people wake in despair, saddened and startled by the inevitability of death and heartbreak. I would agree with many that it’s a universal ailment, but I often find myself helplessly trying to discuss it with others, only to be written off as crazy, depressed, pessimistic, and nihilistic. I suppose after a while I just stopped talking about it out loud, and then after a while I just refused to acknowledge it at all.
I’m no stranger to seemingly irreparable sadness. However, these last few months I’ve found myself feeling quite numb, somewhat detached, and dislocated from my usual thoughts and intellectual endeavors. Needless to say, I was startled when I woke tonight, unable to outrun my mind and the fear within it. After struggling a lifetime to reconcile some sort of faith and intellectually defensible theology, I found myself completely unable to avoid the awful truth that I see no reason to believe that the universe is anything other than chaotic, purposeless, and void of meaning.
I believe there are many triggers to the sudden onset of despair. For me, it was the profoundly painful revelation that something I swore to love the entirety of my life feels endlessly distant and irretrievable. Time has seen the chasm widen and I have struggled in vain to hold onto memory and recollection. Now, I can hardly feel the love I once swore so vehemently to defend. It is stirred only by the occasional dream or photograph, and I am unable to cope with the loss of recollection. It is difficult to reconcile the loss of memories that I marked so clearly in my mind — as if to ensure they’d last my lifetime and beyond.
More and more I am convinced that I will be unable to make a leap beyond my current belief. I am frightened that I will see any leap as mere consolation. I don’t know which way I’ll head from here. I do know that I am more frightened of resigning myself to numbness than I am of continuing to suffer through sadness and fear.