I was happy. It was not good news. I searched deep within me, and I found no unhappiness, no broken heart, nothing. There was nothing. I found an immense blankness of emotion. I found yearning, too, but not one that ached and pained and hurt. That did not sit right by me.
In my experience, there were distinct befores and afters in a human being’s life. I was beyond all my afters, and I couldn’t remember my befores. I was quite comfortable in my scarred and battered existence. So, when I woke up the other day and found myself with this childlike levity I hadn’t felt in forever, it felt disconcerting. Did I write it all away? Had I written the pain away? What was wrong with me? It was a simple rule: never to write it all away. You always saved some for tomorrow.
In a fell swoop, I had become shallow. I was too scared to be shallow. They’d call me a hack. They’d laugh. The greats would laugh. “This one had potential,” they’d sigh, “what a shame.” I had died so many times. Often, by my own hand and accord; my entire selves decimated, obliterated. Now, I stood staring, eyes wide open in awe. I had died so many times. Yet, I had never been born again. It did feel like a new life.
I stared at life with this immense sense of calm. Was I indifferent now? Was I detached, perhaps? Was I mediocre now? What was the word? I couldn’t find it, if it existed. I felt slower, calmer, deliberate. I could see things I hadn’t seen in forever, and I could see things I never noticed before. Yet, I couldn’t see the world I knew so well. The world I knew was gone. There was no trace of it. I couldn’t recognise anything at all.
It was unsettling. It still is unsettling, but I want to get used to it. If nothing else, I would like to try. The greats could laugh all they want. They’d never been born again. They wouldn’t know. They’re all dead. They were all dead, and I was alive.
I’m beginning to wonder which is greater.