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We were not the ones who plummeted from the pinnacle of magnificence. We were born here, within the abyssal gloom of this chasm. Conceived into this all encompassing darkness, our inheritance is the remnants of past splendor; The penumbra of a once-glorious civilization which renders many obtuse to the grandeur that once flourished. So long though as our gaze remains averted from the radiant brilliance above, we persist in ignorance, unaware of the depth of our collective descent. Those precious few that look around them can see, even in the dimmest of luminescence, that their existence here is an aberration. They see the decay all around them. The vestiges of a past long gone all so far as eye can see. Buildings crumbling or being torn down. Systems that failed long ago make promises so hollow the wind seems to whisper them as it blows. The scant relics or manuscripts still extant from antiquity are incinerated, despoiled, mutilated, or subjected to ignominious destruction at the hands of they who choose to remain blind. It then occurs to such an individual: ‘How resplendent must these ruins have been in their prime, and what kind of civilization once thrived that my own can no longer emulate?’

Then, driven by insatiable curiosity, these individuals tilt their heads heavenward. Initially, the brilliance overhead is overpowering, nearly unbearable. Yet still they persist, continuing to gaze into the radiating shimmer above for weeks, then months. Slowly, painfully, their eyes develop. What was once a blinding glare transforms into discernible forms, and, in due course, meticulous detail. Now, they can truly perceive the summit of the precipice. It’s a marvel. An oasis unmarred by the surrounding entropy and darkness. Everything languishing in the shadows below finds its antithesis atop this peak. With an eye drawn towards the statue most noble of character, he sees words personified as man: the mountain is christened “History.”

With resolute eyes steadfastly anchored to the vision above, they commence their ascent of this formidable pinnacle. They strive upward, only to be cast down again and again. To their dismay, they find that the surrounding obscurity now appears even more profound. They can see nothing now in the darkness a their eyes have adjusted that they might see the light. Their newly sensitized vision makes the abyss seem eager to swallow they who’ve attempted to flee it. The very darkness itself grasping out as if to reclaim what was once its own. Returning to the former state is no longer an option. So, they persist, attempting the ascent only to falter, ensnared in a relentless cycle, each iteration imbued with newfound understanding. Their palms bear deep wounds oozing blood from shards of ancient customs encountered during their climb. Their hearts scarred from bearing witness to ever more only having lost it again by falling in repetition. Yet, in spite of all these tribulations, with unyielding determination and teeth clenched in resolve, the hope that one day they might crest this summit finally becomes a reality.

At the zenith of the towering monolith named History, one may finally stand before that singular statue which crowns its apex. There those who may gaze upon its majesty may find the following inscription: “No empire may return once it has fallen, and no man may revive an empire. What is gone is lost forever, forfeit to me. All man may do is watch. All man may do is remember. All man may do is try again.” With the weight of these words settling upon the reader’s consciousness, a startling realization dawns. The once clear vistas that sprawled across this mountaintop dissipate, revealing themselves as mere reflections of the cavernous depths below. A civilization, in its resplendent heyday, casting its mirror image above, much like stones beneath a limpid stream reflect their forms to an observer from beneath. This was a reflection, an ethereal echo serving as a testament to a bygone era that can never be revived or reclaimed. All that remains tangible is the adage for those audacious enough to surmount the edifice known as History, and the very mount itself, perennially standing sentinel above the abyss, ever-patient and beckoning humanity to try once again.


Amongst all the words in our lexicon, a singular word resonates with the melancholy such souls experience. This term, nearly consigned to oblivion, a vestige from the Welsh vernacular, captures the essence of this sentiment with unparalleled accuracy. It speaks of a mournful yearning for what’s been lost, especially when it pertains to a culture or society. It stands as a sentinel, marking the precipice from which we once descended, embodying the anguish of displacement, of not belonging, yet longing for a home that no longer exists. It’s a word of both lament and legacy. That word is “Hiraeth.”

Many assert that our civilization teeters on the brink of decline, poised perilously close to the precipice from which it might tumble into the abyss below. An equal number remain staunchly optimistic, confident in their belief that our society operates without flaw, and that no such precipice even exists. Both are equally blind in the darkness, one with eyes willfully shut, and the other, tragically unaware of the luminous past, having been birthed into the shadows. Our fall, in truth, occurred long ago. The children of today are born into this darkness, as were their parents and their grandparents. They stand agape before remnants of a bygone golden age, pondering why such architectural and intellectual marvels are no longer conceived, let alone realized. Rather than encouraging their offspring to crane their necks upward, towards the legacy of history and the beacon of enlightenment, they counsel them to fix their gaze downward. They discourage innovative thought and instill in them a disdain for the few surviving artifacts of historical significance be they statues that have withstood time’s ravages or ancient texts that still shimmer with wisdom.

It is a futile endeavor to reprimand such individuals, for in many ways, they remain blameless. Even those who have caught fleeting glimpses of enlightenment, only to willfully retreat into obscurity, I can label as cowardly, but not misguided. As the sensation of our descent into the abyss intensifies, no particular obligation can be exacted upon any soul. To be devoid of enlightenment is not an act of transgression; it is merely a failure to realize one’s full potential, to open oneself to true perception. Upon the profound realization of one’s surroundings, when the mistaken normalcy of decay is replaced with a yearning for the pinnacle, and the eyes finally discern the allure at the mountaintop, there is no reverting to prior blindness.

Surprisingly, a considerable number have ascended this mountain, bearing witness to the magnificence that once flourished, or have, at the very least, been lured by its distant radiance while still ensconced in the shadows. In the prevailing pandemonium, they find a peculiar comfort, mirroring my own sentiments. There’s no resurrecting what was irrevocably claimed by the abyss. One can only stand at the precipice, consumed by anguish and nostalgia, recognizing the former glory that can never be rekindled. Fostering a hope that the remnants of a past civilization might someday enrich the soil for a nascent one. Nurturing a dream that traces of that elusive home, one they never truly knew, might materialize through their endeavors. Hiraeth.