The absurdity of being
There are moments — like when you lie on your back and stare too far up into the sky — when you realise the absurdity of being.
It’s like seeing through a crack in a wall that no one meant you to see; a giant, cosmic secret (or joke) that you’ve only just caught the fringes of. You laugh along so everyone thinks you got the joke too — but secretly you’re wondering what happened.
I have that moment sometimes when I’m by myself — in a crowd or alone in the dark, in my hometown or somewhere halfway across the world. I am conscious — as if for the very first time — of the connection between my mind and my body; how that body is the only one I do and shall ever have. I will never have the luxury of stepping outside it and inside someone else; I will never be anything but exactly what and who I am — though that may change over time.
And yet, each of us has within us a secret desire to be known — to others, and to ourselves. But the only person we will ever truly know is ourselves and the only head we will ever be inside is our own. It’s a frightening and lonely thought: to be trapped in this one body for eternity, never thinking with another voice nor seeing with another pair of eyes.
You are only you and that is all.
It’s when I think in these patterns that I feel as if I’ve seen through the crack in the wall. I can’t see much and it’s mostly light and shade and colours and shapes — but still, the crack is there and there’s something going on behind it, which is proof enough in itself.
But proof of what, you ask?
Proof that there are questions to be asked, and thus, answers to be sought.
If I am me and that is all, then who am I to everyone else?
In today’s world, the answer is: the exact person I want to be.
But the more we share the idea or image of ourselves everywhere there is a place to share — online; in our conversation; in conversations of others — the less we become who we truly are. There is no room for error, for stumbled words or awkward twitches, for vulnerability, for unexpected twists and turns, for serendipity.
With more opportunities to ‘edit’ we become less of who we really are.
We’re individual, flawed, messy, incongruous beings; acutely aware of our desires, dreams and fears as much as we are our own fingertips.
But the mess, the imperfections, errors and mistakes are what makes life — and in turn, they are what makes us.
Sometimes I want to tell you — just tell you — what I’m thinking. How when I look at you I see much more than two, blinking eyes on a face and a mouth forming sentences.
Sometimes when we speak, I can see the same cogs whirring in your head that are whirring through mine; cogs trying to form phrases and ask questions and keep the conversation moving. Cogs that are ready to conk out under the stress that maybe we’re not really connecting as easily as we’d hoped; that the distance between my head and yours is too far.
I see past that.
In you, I see an intensity of feeling — a passion for life, for doing things well and giving your all to each moment. I see talent and drive, but also an earthiness and realism that I admire.
You’re blessed with many gifts, and with love; with friends and family. And I like that you can see that, and don’t take anything for granted.
I want to tell you because we never see these things when we look at ourselves in the mirror; when we’re plodding around in our own lonely, fleshy bodies, suspended in our own lonely, heavy minds. We underestimate the best things about ourselves and overestimate the worst things about ourselves. We’ve convinced ourselves we’re unlovable and unknowable. But the people who love us, or even simply the people who know us, will always see the brilliance we miss.
Love is the connector; it’s the two cups with string between; the oft-missed link in the middle of two lonely minds. If we reach out, we reach out to close the gap.
So why are we so afraid to offer the connection if we’re so afraid of being alone? If we only want to be known, why don’t we offer to close the gap more often? We’re afraid of being honest — even if it’s a kindness; afraid of helping people to see their real value.
Just ask me, and I’ll tell you, one lonely head to another, that I can see the world in you.
And, should I have the choice, I’d keep you exactly the way you are.
In a way, this story is an introduction to something bigger.
Though I wrote this a while ago, just yesterday I started #the100dayproject. My 100 days from yesterday until July will be filled with me writing down the things I like, love, appreciate and admire about the people in my life.
Here’s how I started my project on Instagram yesterday:
"Today I'm starting #the100dayproject dreamed up by the ever-inspiring @elleluna and the @greatdiscontent. The idea is…instagram.com
"The first person included in my #100daysoffriends project is @smilingwithlove - 20% because she asked me to write her…instagram.com
I’ll be writing about one person each day, and at the end of the 100 days, I may even choose to send what I’ve written to those people.
In many ways, this whole project was inspired by a video by SoulPancake. Although the title of the video is ‘The Single Life’, it has more to do with honesty, appreciation and seeing the bigger and better things in life than anything else.
The video made me want to be more honest with the people I care about, but also everyone in general. You know, those people you meet for a few hours who you think are fantastic, but they’ll probably never know? Or, those people you see every week or every day at work, at the cafe around the corner, at church, in your sporting team… You think they’re awesome, but they have no idea you even gave them a second thought.
Don’t they deserve to know?
I started a list yesterday of some of the people I wanted to write for. Some will be easy, while others will be more difficult.
I’ve deliberately inserted some people who mean (or have meant) a great deal to me — they represent a significant time in my life, but it may not have been an entirely positive one. I’m excited for the challenge of changing my own perceptions about the people around me, as much as I am about saying the things that are good and true about them.
So in short: I think the world could be kinder, that it’s important to teach ourselves to see the best in everyone, and that most people only ever see the worst in ourselves.
Oh, and I know some pretty amazing humans who deserve to be told they’re the best.