Let's say twenty. I was pursuing a career in the Church. I found out that I was not prepared to do what I believed God was asking me to do. Repeatedly I came to the conclusion that I was evil. I resolved to live what was left of my life away from the Church. I became a librarian; I married my beautiful girlfriend.
Twelve years ago, after a hallucinatory experience, I re-engaged with religion. I was cocky. I also grew isolated. Leaves swirl and eddy, gathering in piles, before they scatter again. Sometimes they form beautiful patterns, order, briefly, in some sense. I began to suffer from depression. I didn't notice it. My thoughts became wild and erratic, and I ignored them.
Four and a half years ago a tremendous wind blew the last of the patterns away. Depression and many psychotic episodes followed. The crisis team were called in, a regime of pills implemented. The days were filled with events overladen with significance. I found myself back where I was twenty years ago, repeating tropes I thought were long gone. My wife coped, because she had to.
There is a bible story about a king, Nebuchadnezzar, who dreams he is a tree. The tree is stripped and cut down. Only the stump remains. Nebuchadnezzar lives for seven years as an animal, naked and beaten by the elements. But through those years he is humbled and restored to his kingdom. I don't think I am there yet - I am still fixated on those leaves - but this story gives me hope.
One day I will find myself alive again.