24.11.01 – Saturday
I have not spoken to anyone for three days. My voice feels harsh and tight in my throat, a sharp clenched fist holding back — oh, everything. A hungry, haunted look now taints me about the eyes, and I must look away from passing strangers lest from my stares they catch hold of my unease, make it their own, enter into unnecessary nervousness or discontent.
The proper level of restraint — one does not wish to impose; and all contact, each glance, is an imposition, is it not? Yet when does this politeness, this so-called consideration become mere insipidity? When does diffidence, edged round with respect and awe, become distance? When do ideas, preferences, desires, fears, become labels, rather than facts? When do people begin to prefer the labels (e.g. I am liberal, I am conservative, I like this, I hate that) to simply being whatever it is that they claim? When do these labels, these signifiers, become bonds tighter than knowledge, closer than friendship? When do words become more important than understanding?
When did this happen?
Has it happened?
Sometimes when I walk along the streets, ferocious, cutting, and I feel nothing, observe nothing; I draw no attention, desire none. Then I see the light hit upon a building, a tree, or hear the uneven laughter of a child, glimpse the watchful smile of a parent, see young people walk, arm in arm, or not quite so, or laugh into the night as they venture who knows where. I see these things, I hear these things, I feel this world swirling around me, and I stop, a pebble pausing in the flood, smiling for the briefest moment.
Everything around me is not beautiful, it is not grand, it is not great — but it is.
And that must be enough.