There are some things you don’t tell people when you first meet them. When skeletons burst out of your closet like it’s the dawn of an apocalypse, you begin to wonder whether you should take your potential lovers, friends and new flatmates by the hand and lead them to the gallery of your abstract past, point at the most painful pieces and try to let them guess whether your symbolic tattoo holds meaning and depth, or whether meaning was totally irrelevant.
The Apocalypse you may be familiar with, is that which is depicted in the Book of Revelation to John in the New Testament. It tells of a scroll in right hand of God, sealed by seven seals. When Christ opens the first four seals, four beings on horses ride out, representing Conquest, War, Famine and Death. The four horsemen bring about the end of the world, the catastrophe to come. And thus The Apocalypse sets into motion: an unveiling of information once hidden. A destruction of what has been built in preparation for the return of the King.
I became aware of my own apocalypse recently. A couple of swigs of vinegar mixed with gall seems like it would numb the pain, but straight refusal + presenting your pricked fingers results in the unlocking of secret doors.
I met my own personal crew of horsemen when I was 13. Vulnerability, Contention, Examination, and Rebirth were their names. They greeted me, and stood there, waited for me after school, waited for me outside my window, waited for me to finish my homework, waited for me till God gave them the go-ahead. They understood that when you’re forever trapped in a child-like frame of mind, trauma seems to take you to a place you didn’t buy a ticket for but get all seasons access.
Vulnerability rode out on his white horse when my mum got remarried and moved back to her home country. I was 19. I was happy for them. I am happy for them. I really am, please understand this. But for the first time ever, I was absolutely stumped. What is family, what is parenthood, when the parents move out? What do you tell people, when you live at home, but your family doesn’t? It’s a place where Vulnerability lost its virginity and it will probably take a few months of trying to block out the guilt of doing something before he should have.
For Vulnerability tells you that you’re about to get every single mathematical theorem you’ve learned since year 3 proven wrong. For Vulnerability is NOT the adult who asks you “What do you want to be when you’re older?”, as if asking you will give them some kind of hope in the future of humanity, that kids stay artists and don’t succumb to the pressure of finding a stable job. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Vulnerability, is when the person who you love doesn’t know how to tell you in words that they don’t really love you back anymore. Vulnerability is eating cherry cake on a stake center floor with an intriguing person you really want to meet, only to wake up and forget what he looks like, with only the taste of cherry yum diddly dip lingering on your tongue. Vulnerability, is getting all your grades back and feeling a lil bit depressed coz how you’re gonna recover when even Domino’s Pizza fired you on your first day? [das a tru story y’all ]. Vulnerability is when you wonder whether you’re the last one to have been kissed, but you know you’re the first one out of your friends to witness a person contort their body after major brain damage. Vulnerability is exposure.
I met contention when I was 21. The myth that contention likes to debunk is that after a missionary completes a specific set of months they are more spiritual and thus sexier than any other Mormon person. Contention looked like going to the Lord’s house, feeling like you got enlightened, only for your shoes to be thrown out of your own home. Contention screamed at my every move, hugged me when I least expected it, and then refused to acknowledge I existed when I bowed down to her. Perhaps human deficiencies like going to the bathroom or eating food weren’t necessary, because what’s the point when every attempt at peace turns into war? Contention took something solid and made its particles move and separate. Contention mocked my dirty laundry and brought over my friends to show them what it looked like. They say that peace comes when you go to the temple. But what if you look at it, and even a year later, feel utter betrayal?
The third horseman didn’t take too long to make his appearance. Examination likes to use multiple formats to test your limits and your capabilities, mostly through dating. Dating? Now dating doesn’t always come with a lot of romance I realised. I cried over the what-ifs, maybes and hell-nos, as well as please-text-mes and why-don’t-you-just-know-what-I-want-without-me-telling-you? All the meanwhile confiding in a crew of single, married and it’s-complicated friends, as if extrapolating their vast generalizations was going to somehow connect to something specific in my own dating life.
Is there some kind of magic trick that will answer all the questions that attraction, affection and companionship brings into the world? Or some kind of Buy 1 Get 1 Free promo, where if you earn a little bit more money you get 1 relationship without the costs of emptied pride and flattened ego? What will it take, to have a relationship that makes both parties happy and most of the time, satisfied? Does dating mean anything? Does commitment come with a best before date? And when it’s sour, do you throw it away, or do you try to restore it? Do you owe a no-strings attached, unconditional love? Do you owe them a promise to meet their expectations?
It seems like I tried on love and chose to return it 7 days later, even though I had a 30 day exchange window which I wasn’t willing to wait for.
And thus the last horseman made his entry.
I don’t know how to really explain the last horseman without feeling like I’m skipping many steps. For when the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come and see!” I looked and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Rebirth.
Rebirth brought people back to me that I didn’t expect. There is pain in birth, the most excruciating pain is quickly replaced by the arrival of a freshly made human being, unaware of the world around them.
Rebirth brought into my life fresh perspective. Rebirth took me across the world, gave me the means and abilities to cling to my mother and trust in her embrace. Rebirth showed me that joy can be found in simple things. And that God was there, in amongst the messiness of my life, and that I should hold on to whatever faith I had no matter what.
Rebirth, taught me to use my muscles to do the things I loved but to accept my limits.
Rebirth taught me to read and to write and to listen. To never generalize, to always find out things for myself.
Rebirth taught me that sometimes I was wrong.
Rebirth bought me books in a language I wasn’t familiar with. But… who knew that writing a comprehensive review of a book I didn’t really know, would cause destruction? In saying that… whilst I might have changed the way I wrote it, would I still portray the same meaning? When the holistic mirror doesn’t return the reflection, but pledges to stay there, seemingly unmoving. What do you do?
Maybe it takes breaking dishes in order to realize you wanted to eat like a proper human being. Rebirth will tell you he will hold your hands at dinner time, but sadly you both can’t eat because you ran out of useable dishes.
So maybe Rebirth was there for just that. Nothing more, nothing less. Rebirth. And I’m eternally grateful for the Last Horseman of the Apocalypse. Perhaps to stay, perhaps not. Perhaps to pave the way, for the fifth of the seven seals to be opened, and for The Apocalypse to continue its eye-opening path.
In the words of East of West:
“You come face to face with love, and before the sun sets, you’ve become someone you didn’t used to be.
It makes the old new. Makes dead things live. Love makes you into something better.
It’s the reason a wolf would chase a crow, even knowing he can’t fly…
And she don’t ever need to touch the ground.
Love sends a man half way around the world…
Just for the hope of catching it.”
And it’s okay if you don’t.