I know I can’t possibly be alone, or at least as much as I like to think, because of how many people there are in the world. I like to look at strangers and wonder what their life is about because it strikes me hard when I realize that I don’t know at all. They’re as real and significant as me, with a pulse and a world that belongs to only them within the same world that holds my own, but still I don’t even know their name.
There’s a lot that goes on in my head, as I think there is in a lot of people’s heads. Sometimes it gets too heavy and I have trouble figuring out if my emotions are telling me the truth. It can be difficult when my head says one thing while at the same time, I wish someone else were in it telling me another. Or when I have words that get together inside my brain that mean a lot to me but no one sticks around long enough for them to matter in the end. There’s a lot that goes on, but then I remember the whole world and all those people with a lot in their heads too, and even though I don’t know their names, it somehow helps to know they’re still as real and significant as me.
I like being able to know there is happiness in the world, somewhere, in certain people. I like to know there are doors being held open for strangers, that some strangers are complimenting others on their hair or their shoes and saying thank you or no, thank you. I like to know these things are able to happen to people from different worlds in the moments they cross into the same one. In the common world of hate and tragedy, it’s a relief to know these brief seconds in time can be so significant and mean so much. At least I like to think they should. And so these are things that I try to engage with, or that I try to absorb into myself because they are extraordinary to me. I want them to become as true as possible.
The only truth is that the bad doesn't change. So often does it feel like I’m living on a balcony, peering over the edge to see the lives of people surrounding me, familiar or not, getting swallowed by a thickness of black specific to only themselves, pouring over them, over their eyes, to prevent them from seeing either inside or out. It seems I am alone in the observation, and there’s nothing I can do about it. It seems they accept their fate. But the longer I stand on this balcony, I learn that I am not a hero. I am not any more real or significant than the others, and I am not free from the black that swallows the lot of us. It is not my job to protect anyone or liberate anyone, and I cannot tell you why I’m up here, looking down and watching a miserable world saturate all of us, with nothing to do about it. I can only say this wasn't a part of the plan.
I absorb happiness willingly, but I explore darkness as a repercussion. The more smiling strangers I see, the more longing I see, in people’s eyes, in the shape their faces return to after going back into their own world. Who are the angry ones? Who are the lonely ones? Which ones are bitter, and which ones can’t imagine how their life ended up like this?
Why do I have to ask?
Well, I will ask, and I think we should ask, and I think we should forget about our own worlds for a second and forget about how we don’t know a stranger’s name because they are just as real and significant as we are, and they are living. At least I like to think they are. Life is more than the problems we make out of it, and in a moment, happiness can be extraordinary.
It isn't so much these days. But it can be.