Chained in the cave I stare vacantly at the wall. Shadows dance in front of me, close around me, descend across the lenses of my eyes.
The shadows are my reality, monochrome filters to my claustrophobic world.
I am imprisoned. Heavy weights hold me in place, anchoring me, detaining me within the cave’s dark underbelly. Leaden limbs resist any impulse to struggle; futility gnaws at my soul and courses through my veins, flooding my body, numbing my senses.
The cave holds other prisoners captive, each chained, each hostage to the privations of the hostile environment. But each of us is alone. Bone-achingly alone. Each aware of the presence of others, each unable to forge a connection as words are lost in the murky cloud of chaos and confusion that our minds have become within the cave’s confines.
Some prisoners have been detained since childhood, knowing of no reality beyond the cave. Others entered the cave later in life. But once detained all prisoners know – all prisoners feel, deep in their marrow – that there is no reality beyond the cave. Life beyond the cave – past, present, future – is an illusion, a cruel trick of diseased minds.
Sounds burst through the shadows and echo through the cave. Sledgehammers pound rock; rock tumbles, crashing as it descends ever further into the cave’s depths. The violent sounds slam through the prisoners’ torpor and we writhe in anguish as the sounds collide within our skulls. Occasionally, voices can be heard from a place beyond the cave, muffled sounds that hint at an existence beyond the cave. But the voices are swallowed by the cave’s cacophony of chaos and confusion.
The cave chills the souls of all that enter, freezing emotions, shivering limbs. And yet, a fire roars. A blaze that lights a corner of the cave, a heat that causes skin to sweat; but the limbs resist thaw.
Day after interminable day strips the prisoner of self. The longer that I spend in the cave the more my self diminishes. Without the self there is nothing with which to relate, no reference point by which to define a place in this unknowable world. I am a shell of a being.
But I shall endure.
My tortured soul shall stir.
And finally, the day shall come.
Light rushes into my eyes, blazing through the blinds of my mind; a dazzling luminescence that sears through the shadows that engulfed me. I walk through the light and into a new lightness of being. I view the long forgotten lands that stretch out ahead of me with wonder – for how had I never known their beauty?
As I stride purposefully in the direction of new dreams, freed from the shackles of the cave, my eyes settle on the distant horizon and the promise of sunset. And as I contemplate the expanse ahead of me I realise that there are no limitations to where I can go.
And as long as I keep on going, I can catch the sun.
The Cave – Mumford & Sons