Today was a hot day.
I think the hottest on record for these here British Isles. And I chose to ride on the Metro – the notoriously outdated, incompetent, delay-ridden public transport service that had just yesterday melted.
I could have opted to stay at home.
I could have opted to take the car.
But I took the Metro.
I found practical reasons to argue against those other options. But before the practicalities came the raw desire to ride on the Metro on the hottest day ever. To be part of the excitement. To see what all the fuss was about. To live, goddammit.
I worried I was being stupid; that I’d end up having a miserable day and regret defying the prevalent advice. Please don’t travel on the Metro system if your journey isn’t necessary. But I wanted to. So I did.
And I had a wonderful time, sweat running down the backs of my legs while I tapped my fingers to the Hamilton soundtrack and the train car knocked us all about a bit. I can’t explain it, but it was so much better than not riding the Metro on the hottest day on record. Imagine if I’d just stayed at home! If I hadn’t followed that odd, pointless whim. My day would have just been fine.
The truth is I would use your approval as a proxy for the approval I’m withholding from myself.
If you say it’s okay, I can rest easy, ignoring the voice in my own head that says it’s not.
It’s easier to win the outside world’s favour than my own – its standards are always lower. It lets me off the hook, and I can just go on living, without asking myself why that voice is telling me it’s not okay.
But I’ve never been trying to convince you of anything – only me.
I have an unhealthy desire to be understood. Somewhere deep inside, I believe my life depends on everyone else giving me permission to have the perspective I have, to make the choices I make, to live the life I live. And I also believe, every time that permission may be denied, that if I can just explain myself, they’ll see. And they’ll tell me I’m right, and that it’s alright.
So I want to explain to you why I’ve been absent. You, the handful of people still apparently showing up here regularly despite me giving you absolutely no reason to. Or, alternatively, the trickle of strangers miraculously finding your way to this dusty outpost in steady succession. Hard to tell.
I want to tell you so that I can imagine you reading approvingly. Oh yes, that makes lot of sense. That’s incredibly valid. She’s clearly a good person. Everything is alright by me.
That’s stupid. So I’m not going to do it.
Is anything ever really over?
Is there ever a hard line? The closer you look, the blurrier it gets.
I’ve always seen in far too many shades of grey for my own good. Clarity is not a natural by-product of my thinking. But there are times in my life I look back on, with the benefit of distance, and see that they have been completed. They are no longer swirling around me, impacting my existence. They are done. They didn’t come back from the dead, and there is zero risk that they ever will. They were, and, now, they are not.
Other things, well…we go round and round the carousel, and sometimes we forget how it looked from over here, until here we are again and, oh yes, just like last time. But different. But still.
It’s not clean, and it’s not easy, and if you don’t laugh you might cry. When will it be over? Maybe it’s just the kind of thing that never ends.
There are so many beautiful, brutal, exquisitely illuminating human experiences playing out all over the world every single moment.
Sometimes I imagine them, and wonder if they’re real.
Sometimes I wonder if all our imaginings are simply us being offered a glimpse of another’s reality. Another being; another time; another world. Would that be more or less extraordinary? Is our gift, our skill, measured by our ability to build up out of the abyss, or to say what we see with deftness and clarity, as we peer through the portal we’ve happened upon?
I don’t know, and I don’t think I need to, but I like to imagine what could be true.