The Conversationalist №6

L’image D’Alex Cox

“You need to stop thinking so much about this.”

“But why?”

“Haven’t you figured this out yet? It doesn’t matter “why”. You can’t keep drowning yourself in that question, because the longer you spend sitting there and thinking “why”, the faster everything flies by you. Sometimes there doesn’t have to be a “why”, sometimes it just “is”. Okay?”

“But I feel like not knowing is going to kill me.”

“If not knowing every single thing killed people, then the human population would’ve been wiped out a millenia ago. You will survive without knowing every single thing. But you won’t survive if you sit here and dwell on ‘why’ forever. It will destroy you.”

He was right. I was driving myself insane over this question. I can always feel when I’ve made palpable progress in myself when I am able to put someone’s advice into action right away. After that conversation, I genuinely let it go. I didn’t let all my questions go, but I started picking and choosing more than I ever had.

There came a freedom in letting go of a question without having answered it — a freedom I hadn’t felt for a very long time. Curiosity has been a weakness of mine since I was young. It created a tendency to dig, it made me persistent to always get to the root of things, always be five steps ahead. I am grateful for that, but sometimes it morphs into something ugly. Hamartia, that is a word for it: one of my best qualities going awry and thus causing me a downfall. Being five steps ahead takes a toll, human beings can only chase omniscience for so long before their humanity catches up to them.

There was a fear in the back of my mind that by not asking so many questions, I was running into the embrace of ignorance. It was something difficult to accept, as I was afraid I had started a descent down a slippery slope of becoming an ignorant and simple person. I was afraid to lose my complexity, because I was afraid that meant losing myself. It was irrational, I knew it was irrational, but fear had seized hold of me and was relentlessly trying to drag me down.

I couldn’t tell you how I managed to escape from the strong grip of fear. It was one of those things where I didn’t realise I wasn’t afraid anymore until I stopped and looked around and didn’t find myself analysing every crevice of the environment I was in. I could hold a conversation without picking apart every syllable, without noting every inflection, every pause, every breath. In giving up my need to know everything, I felt a closure I had never felt before. The closure I was missing from every past lover, friend, acquaintance, alive or dead — it finally came. I realised that was the sole reason I never received closure, because even after people left, I kept places for them in my head. I kept everybody alive, but in doing so, I was killing myself. I devoted so much energy to remembering every detail of every person so that they were never truly gone, but in doing so, I never let them go. And when you never let someone go, you allow them to take up space in your mind that could be devoted to something else — something less harmful.

Yet, sometimes, late at night, I start to miss it. I start to miss the feeling of security that comes with being just about five steps ahead of those around myself. I started to miss the wry glee that accompanies knowing people view you as an enigma rather than a human being. I felt wrong missing something like that, but I couldn’t help it. It had been a part of who I was for so long, I was afraid of what I’d become without it. I feared the simple life. I still do. And now, I am afraid that I am going to go back to my incessant questions, and that I am not going to be able to stand by this newfound “closure” I have been preaching so hard. But I suppose it must be working, because as I write this, I feel more human than ever. I have fears and doubts and I am writing them down. They are not shrouded in incomprehensible metaphor, they are not disguised under layers of misdirection. I am being candid with you, dear reader. So thank you, I suppose, for reading my conversation. Thank you for letting me be a bit more human than I was yesterday.

M.W.

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Mathilde Wilkie

Mathilde Wilkie

Writing for the sake of writing, or something like that