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Ragnarök

The apocalypse. Ragnarök. The great battle of the gods and einherjar against the thursar. A battle in which the old gods die, chaos prevails over order, but only briefly, after which the world is reborn, new gods take the place of the old, and the cycle continues.

On September 12, 2019, my world ended. The dark forces of chaos overcame the order that I had grown so accustomed to, showed me how helpless we are to life and fate, and eventually took from me what I loved the most in the world, my best friend. My beagle, Howie, 17 years old, my friend for 12 years, had become sick enough that it seemed like there might not be any saving him. The next morning, he was in pain, and I had to make the decision to have him put down. I hope he knows that I did it because I love him. I still feel like I killed my best friend.

September 12, 2019, the god that I had prayed to since I was a child died. I’ve not gone to church since 2013, but in 2019, I finished what I started. I cried out to god, and he did not answer, and so I cursed him, denounced him, and still heard nothing. For me, I killed that god. And as Fenrir, I might as well have devoured the sun and put an end to the entire world as I had known it.

There can be no omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omnipresent, omniscient god as the Abrahamic faiths claim. Either he’s helpless to stop suffering, or he’s cruel or uncaring, or he is unable to be where we need him when we need him, or he knows nothing of our suffering.

I am not okay. And I guess that’s okay, because I’m stubborn and I’m going to make it through whatever doesn’t kill me outright. But since that day, the entire world has felt more gloomy and lifeless. I’m confident this is a loss that I’ll be grieving for the rest of my life.

In a strange way, this painful loss has liberated my soul in some way. I’ve always been reserved about expressing myself in the past, but since I’ve lost my friend, I just don’t care what people think of me anymore. Maybe it’s the desire to live life to the fullest, maybe it’s the desire to live in a way that would make Howie proud, maybe it’s just for sake of vengeance against those who taught me to be reserved about self-expression, and who taught me to love a god who doesn’t return the favor. Even death has become less scary, now that I know I have a friend on the other side.

In the end of 2019, I decided to begin a search for my own home. Just my luck, the housing market in Utah was already a massive bubble in 2019, with absolutely absurd prices being driven only higher by desperate out-of-state buyers offering well above asking for even the smallest, least renovated homes. I made several offers, each time getting outbid and rejected. When I started, looking at houses was a nice distraction, and I had fun. But within months it turned into a miserable experience that inevitably left me feeling awful and dreaming of moving literally anywhere else.

When 2020 came, it brought with it COVID-19, and the end of the world became more real. Shortly after my work sent us all home for indefinite work-from-home, Utah had a significant earthquake, the first one I’d ever experienced in my life. It woke me up, and weirdly unconcerned by it, I stayed in bed, further laughing at the world that seemed to be crumbling around me.

Of course, COVID-19 didn’t help with my search for housing. In fact, all it seems to have done is take almost all of the inventory off the market, further exacerbating an already absurd bubble, and raising the prices to the point where buying in San Francisco is probably a more wise financial decision than buying in Utah. Inevitably, this crisis will end, houses will flood the market, and the unprecedented loan delinquencies will turn into foreclosures, further swinging the needle to the extreme in the opposite direction, but until then, housing in Utah is simply out of my reach.

At the start of 2020, I had so many goals. I wanted to make more friends, and go on more adventures, and improve my physical fitness. All of those goals went from achievable to difficult or near-impossible when COVID hit.

Since then, a lot has happened, but it feels almost like nothing has happened, since it’s all happened from lockdown. Amazingly, I’ve been able to make a few friends during all of this, but there’s been little for us to do offline, since things have been closed.

It all really started to hit me hard when fall arrived, and winter approached, the weather got cold, the days got shorter, and I knew soon snow would be on the ground. During the summer of 2020, I kept some of my sanity intact by spending my time after work outside in the yard, reading and enjoying the sunlight and quiet. The prospect of winter filled me with dread, because I knew it was going to be very hard this time, and I was right. Winter has been truly miserable.

I feel as though the entire year of 2020 has hardly even happened, and yet we’re already well into 2021 now. I feel like I’ve been living on a space station, my only contact with the outside world via technology. I love working from home, and honestly I’d love for that to continue forever, but I also like having the option to go out and be with friends in public.

During this year, I was able to sort through the rubble of my collapsed spirituality, and I’ve recovered a bit, and found a new personal path that feels right to me.

For me, new gods have risen from the ashes of the old, but the battle has to end before a new world can be forged and we can get back to building up our lives again.

I know I’m not the only one struggling right now. Honestly, I think just about everybody is, and now isn’t the time to pretend otherwise. I think it’s healthy to speak your mind, especially about your feelings, and we should all do it. I was hesitant to write this because it’s not upbeat and I worried it would only make others feel worse, but I don’t think that’s true. I think sometimes we all need to see that it’s okay to not be feeling okay, but we can all work through it together. So here’s to being genuine!

It’s taken some time for me to realize just how deep into depression I had sunk. And if I’m being honest, I still don’t feel much better. But I do feel like being aware of it has made it easier to push through it, and I think that’s all that can really be done until we can all get into big groups and hug each other again.

Until then, let’s keep hanging in there, and I’ll see you all on Discord.

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By Alexander Barber

Ráðum’k þér, Loddfáfnir,
at þú ráð nemir,
njóta mundu ef þú nemr,
þér munu góð ef þú getr:
Góðan mann
teygðu þér at gamanrúnum,
ok nem líknargaldr meðan þú lifir.

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