As we hurled ourselves into the darkness, the clouds boiling toward our advance, I do not believe that there was a single one of us who turned his head to look back. Whatever was there was past. But it was not even that, for the past at least informs the present, shapes the future, no matter how irreconcilable it may become. What we left behind us that day was barely a memory. It had no place where we were headed, and so we set it down at our feet and continued on. We sloughed it off like something dead and useless, as if we were being reborn and crawling out of our protective shells to find them coarse and ugly–abominable things that we would sooner not recognize as the transformative and life-giving vessels that they had been. This was how we quit the light. No farewells, no final glances or mental photographs or fond reminiscences of the life that had been. We rushed toward the darkness, and it embraced us. We knew the light no more.
What choice did we have? Who could have turned his head and not his mind? What heart could ever glimpse that fading glow and not retreat, not return? What soulless thing could behold that promise and not long for it, and in that longing forsake its duty and cower in the remnants of light before the encroaching shadows? And so what hope might we have had if we had let ourselves believe that there was something more than darkness, that there could be a path other than the one we marched, if only for a whisper of a moment?
But that is what we abandoned along with the light. We abandoned the hope of light, even the desire for hope, and in doing so we condemned ourselves, however pure our ambitions or holy our task. We turned our backs on the very thing for which we fought, for to see it again would have meant its destruction instead of merely our own. Our courage was born in our forgetting, and even now I dare not think on this too long. Just as I dare not look behind me for fear that I might see the light and hope, for fear that I might not see it and despair. Just as I dare not look to my left or my right, for fear that I might confirm what I have long suspected: that I am the last one facing forward, the last of the willfully hopeless, inching further into the dark, alone.