“I once heard someone say that perhaps it would be easier to go through life with your eyes closed. We were on a train somewhere, and I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop. Nor did I intend to pry, when I glanced inquisitively at him. I suppose it simply and unavoidably caught my attention and I wondered what he meant by it. But he didn’t look back, and he never did continue with his train of thought. Oddly, nobody around seemed to care. It was like the words just hung in mid air, creating an echo solely in my head. Like a heavy glass door had been shut in my face. The stream of consciousness in his narrative must have followed a long path within him, though, for he kept staring with a deep, inescapable sadness in his eyes, at something that wasn’t there, but frightened him. And he went completely silent for the remainder of the trip.
I never saw him again. And I don’t recall having thought about it again either. Until today, that is.
Today, for reasons which will be left untold, it occurred to me that maybe I finally understood his words, his sorrow, and his fear. Because when the moment of reckoning does come, and you meet with yourself at the empty deck of a bridge on a rainy day… or at the end of the pier to what is left of your life… when you feel, for any sense of abandonment, that you arrived at the corner of Nowhere and Nothing at All… when you put together enough courage to actually look at your life and your mind in the mirror… you may well just find a stranger there, instead of yourself. The stranger you never wanted to meet and not the self you believed you were or could be.
If you stare long enough at your life, it may suddenly stare right back at you. And then you know. Whatever it may be, it simultaneously connects the pit of your stomach to the fast-pacing depths of your heart, while exploding with clarity inside your brain. And you just know. And your pupils dilate with the recoil, in understanding. And it is indeed true, that sometimes your eyes will wish they’d been closed, to at least cushion the blow. Like there’s a huge storm right on top of you. And it’s raging, absolute and devastating. And you’re so utterly afraid, so crushed, that total collapse may even seem preferable and the easiest way out. But the truth is, you can’t have it any other way, can you? Or how else will you ever learn? And how will you ever be able to grasp the opportunity to be better? To be you? To actually see?”
“A man can stand anything except a succession of ordinary days.”
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
German dramatist, novelist, poet, & scientist (1749 — 1832)
in Skylarking — a (re)collection. © Paulo Furtado 2014. All rights reserved.