I heard the clatter of letters through the post box as I walked out of the bathroom after a long weary bath. It was almost midday on a wet day in late February 1993, and there was very little for me to cheer about. I ignored the letters and walked into the bedroom. It was pointless rushing for the post, there was no reason why anything should have changed today, for that matter. I had graduated the summer before and still walked around town like a vagrant without work. I had sent out over two hundred applications and still hadn’t received anything positive. I was running out of time, patience and money. I was behind with my rent for over two months and the landlord was crowding me. I had negotiated my position having mentioned to the estate agents who ran the property that with my university qualifications sooner or later I would be employed and would be in a position to pay my bills. That had been over two months ago and I was now nearly into the third month and still had very little confidence in my position.
My bedroom was empty, except for a bed and old television. My clothes where laid out in a large open suit case that took up a good section of the room and I wondered each day if my situation would ever change. I chose simple clothes for the day, in fact there was hardly anything else to choose from as I couldn’t buy any new clothes since I hadn’t earned for a long time. I slid into old jeans trousers that I had worn in college and a worn out looking tee-shirt. I threw on an old denim jacket and then proceeded to seek my driver’s license. It was pay day in my unemployed career and this meant collecting an unemployment benefit’s cheque this time of the month. At a ration of eighty pounds a month I could barely survive. However it was something to look forward to and I wasn’t knocking it as it came in handy for food. After putting on an old pair of trainers I left my apartment without pausing for a glance at my mail. This was my routine this time of the month and I was sticking to it. There was no point in breaking it by checking the post as what lay there were only the dreaded bills. It looked as though no matter how hard I tried there was always one thing each week to sink my demeanor.
I walked unsighted down Clarendon Street where I lived on to Seven Sisters Road and headed for the tube station. I passed people and felt their presence but refrained from making any eye contact. I was in my own world and wanted to stay there. The understatement of the month would have been I was depressed because I knew that I was beyond this. I believe that depression comes when one first hits rock bottom, I think I had hit rock bottom and gone further underground. Now I did not know what I felt. I told friends that maybe it was amnesia as I could never remember anything or it just might have been a world of illusion as I placed my mind miles away in the future where things were better for me. I had graduated from college eight months earlier and still did not know my results, my fees had not been paid and having been escorted from class more than once I had managed to negotiate with the university a practical compromise. I pleaded my case to sit the final exams even though I could not attend most of the classes and offered to pay my tuition as soon as I got a job. The university had agreed to my terms, although now that I had graduated I was wondering how it would be possible to get a job when I had no proof of my certification. Having spent four years in higher education putting in every ounce of my being in passing my exams I was feeling suffocated from my chances in life. It felt like an uphill struggle all the way. I had watched my friends graduate from college while I stood outdoors like a spectator as having not paid my fees it was unfair that I should stand amongst those who had. Now I felt as tough as nails believing that if the past hadn’t crippled me then why should the present. I told myself that whatever the outcome I would not cave in to depression.
The events of the day happened as they normally did with nothing to brag about! Eventually I returned home to confront myself. My helplessness sunk in like a rash and I walked through the one bedroom apartment like a caged animal. I was frustrated with my life and my existence. I needed something fast and I needed it to be really good to help me through life. Having resided into this frame of mind I then began to seek a way out. I brooded over things past and present seeking reassurance and inner strength to raise my moral.
‘I had missed out something,’ I told myself, for today was unusually harder than other days. I decided to check my mail believing that maybe the Lord would send me something positive to release the distress I felt. I ploughed through the junk mail for a while and then came upon a letter from one of the companies I had applied to. I had gone a step further with this application and attended an interview and now awaited the results. I put all my mind and spirit into it, believing that this was it. I believed that this was the one thing that would save me from my situation. I prayed that it should be before I opened the letter and read its contents.
Thank you very much for coming up to our offices. We have received many applications and wish to tell you that unfortunately on this occasion you have not been selected.
We wish you all the best in your future career.
‘Why me?’ I exploded in disgust! After everything I had been through even this letter had failed me. I was saddened by it all. It looked as though the Lord had abandoned me, he had forgotten about me and my wishes. He had betrayed me and left me to rot in life. My pacing continued as the adrenaline built up in me. I was really having one of those days where I needed something to happen for me. I needed something to go right. I turned on the old television to liven up my surroundings while I paced as the silence was so deafening that my heartbeat and the insults I was shouting could be heard for miles.
As I went through the motions of my sufferings my door bell rang and I rushed to it believing that my calling had finally come. I heard the doorbell ring and I told myself that the Lord had answered my prayers. I opened the door and standing out in the darkness was a man who declared himself as a representative from the television licensor. He wished to see my television license and asked if I had a television. With the background noise glaring away I couldn’t disguise my position so I declared the truth and told him I had not yet purchased a license. He offered to see my television and I invited him into my apartment. The state of the television was enough for the man to give up on me. The picture was blurred and the antennae turned out to be an old coat hanger I had found in the house. The licensor said it wasn’t worth charging me and left. In that instant I realized the gravity of my situation and my spirit sunk to its lowest.
I lowered the volume of the television and sat down, broken to the knees at how isolated my life had become. This was truly happening and I had finally reached rock bottom with no help being granted to me from the Lord. I felt the pain sear through my veins and into my heart and I broke down and wept painfully. I cried for a while and then drifted into sleep. I must have slept for almost two hours for when I woke up I felt different. Something in me had gone. I had lost a part of me, as if it had died in an accident. My situation hadn’t changed but I felt better because life was no more what it seemed to be. My life was no more about getting the things that I thought I was meant to have. For some reason or the other I understood that my life was meant for me to look beyond things, beyond man and beyond what man believed needed to be right for one to be happy. I accepted my life for what it was because there was no other way out for me. In the day I had made the best of what I had and the night had come without any changes. All the time I had tried to seek for answers, relief from my pain and depression I had sunk deeper into the well of agony. Finally I had been trapped, idolizing what man believed was the only way to survive and then it had finally broken me.
In the spiritual world to build a foundation of our existence we must all ask ourselves this question: “What is our first love?” The answer to this question determines our survival and the patience we have in enduring the longsuffering that exist on this mysterious journey.