Notes On A Four-Day-Old Void

Sometimes it just seems like loneliness makes you do the most embarrassing things. Which I find especially objectionable seeing as the one-to-one relationship of you-to-your-loneliness takes enough of a toll. Bring in witnesses and it’s just kind of cruel. People shouldn’t be able to witness you in your loneliness. You should be isolated from society through these things–like cultures that sent menstruating women off to huts on the edge of town. There should be an isolation unit for the lonely. For all our sakes.

As it is, some difficult business going on at home (home, as in, The Motherland) has me feeling rather isolated. Kind of lonely and strange. But I’m not isolated enough. I’m around people here. I’m in my normal life. But everything around the core of me has been agitated. And it ripples out. What’s going on at home is the kind of thing that grows silence. It produces it—a big resounding blackness because there are no words. ‘There are no words…‘ this is what everyone says about it. The only words to say are the words ‘There are no words…‘.

Strangely, in my isolation, faced with this lack of words, I want to create words–to converse–around it. Stubbornly shovelling sand into the void in hopes of filling it up. I find myself telling friends about it. Telling them about it but the aim is to converse about it. Because to converse would be to see that hole start to fill up–to make some headway. But instead, time after time, I tell them only to hear in response that there are no words. I take this big shovel-full of sand that I can barely hold and I drop it down there and watch it disappear into the void because–ah, yes!– there are no words. Hearing this response over and over doesn’t bother me. It’s practically the only thing one can say. But still I feel this need to converse around it. To activate it because otherwise the silence can be deafening.

Which brings me to the embarrassment. Because it is my silence. Here in Germany–away from everyone else whose ears are bleeding from the lack of any sound–I am wandering around trying to process this among strangers. Many of these strangers are my friends and they offer what they can, but I am so clearly supposed to be attempting this conversation with someone else, somewhere else. So I stand with them in the desert and ask them to help me build a raft because somewhere someone is drowning. Sometimes it just feels a bit absurd. Suddenly I feel so exposed. But I’m exposing myself. I can’t help but feel like we’re probably both embarrassed after these conversations.

Raised as a Roman Catholic, my mind has an ample store of religious imagery to square the edges of life’s little odd-shaped feelings. I keep thinking of Jesus–post-crucifixion–getting Thomas to put his hand into the wound in his side. Thomas didn’t believe that it was really Jesus showing up at their undercover-apostle poker night. So finally Jesus was just like ‘You don’t believe me? Put your hand in that!’ That shut Thomas up.
Of course in my case, no one is provoking me. But I feel so provoked anyway. Just walking around, unable to concentrate; staring off into space (quite contentedly); speaking in sentence fragments. I feel the need to explain and, as I said before, the need to try to fill the void. To find a way to complete the sentence. So I show them my wound. And then as we both stand there looking at my wound I remember that they didn’t ask to see it; and now neither of us knows what to say next.

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