Most people don’t ask you who you are because they like to find out for themselves. There’s something so exhilarating about trying to figure people out, something so thrilling about uncovering the human being. Like a puzzle waiting to be solved we instinctively attempt to examine the individual. So exquisitely is the human mind and soul constructed that we indulge in the idea of overcoming the obstacles that stand in the way of complete knowledge of the person standing in front of us. We accept the challenge that will face us along the way knowing perfectly well that what we find might not be something we want to know.
How come we can’t just create a pamphlet of who we are and hand it out to people we feel deserve to know? How easy would it be to get to know one another? I mean it sounds foolish and a little crazy but wouldn’t that make it easier than trying to figure people out and failing most of the time. Now some might argue that we couldn’t do the whole pamphlet thing because it would be way too easy for people to get to know us. I mean what if we lose the pamphlet and then some stranger on the street will learn about our fears, our yearnings, our faith, and our dreams.
Some of you might say that we can’t make a pamphlet because it would defeat the whole purpose of love, friendship, and family. The process of learning about one another is as important as getting there and finally knowing each other. For example, how striking is the first year of a relationship where two people are learning about one another. Learning about each other’s bad habits and their worries. Learning about each other in a way only close friendship or love can create, the kind of learning that happens because you quarrel often and about inconsequential things. The kind of learning that only happens when you love another human being to the point that you love the way they get a wrinkle under their eye when they have apprehensions about things. It’s true that you can’t put those kind of things in a pamphlet, but I think what we don’t see is that if we were to make a pamphlet we wouldn’t know what to write in it.
I could write in the pamphlet everything I wish I were. I could write things there that I think I am but am really not. I could change my pamphlet with each person because I would wish them to see me in a certain light. I could write things that are undeniably true but patently irrelevant. I could tell you everything I am but leave out everything I’m not. You would get to know me on my grounds and with my decisions. You would learn about only the things I want you to know and I would control the information that flows through you. Oh what power we would have over the opinions others build about us! How phony our relationships would be with human beings.
But I say we wouldn’t know what to put in it because the most significant things are things that we are not aware of about us. It’s your job to untangle my ambiance. With you I will learn who I am because you will challenge me in ways no one else has. You will test my beliefs and you will struggle with my ideals. We will learn about each other and about ourselves. How can I put that in a pamphlet? How can I put in the pamphlet about all the things that you said you loved about me? Or things that you will grow to love about me. How can I put in the pamphlet about how you said I make that unsatisfied face every time things don’t go my way? And how you love that face anyway, even though you will grow to hate it.
I could write in my pamphlet that I’m a girl who expects too much of the world she lives in because she believes in signs, and miracles, and art, and friendship, and sometimes those things are not enough. I could write that I twisted my ankle dancing when I was 13 and never fully recovered from it and now when I walk long distances I feel the pain and just pretend that it’s not there because, like many things in my life, I have too much pride to admit that there is something causing me pain and I rather just walk it off. I could write that that same 13 year old girl saw the relationship her parents had so it taught her to never show her future kids that she was unhappy because kids will grow up to be adults and those adults will forever blame their parents for all their inner demons, when in reality they should be grateful for all that they had. I could write that I feel that rules are for the simple-minded and that nothing significant or worthwhile ever came out of following the rules. I could write that I recognize the kind of person you are from very early on and this is tragic because I spend so much time trying to cope with your flaws. I could write that I only attempt to love the people who are so emotionally distant from me because everyone else is so easy. I could write that I lost a ring someone gave me once and I know it’s at my house and it gives me unease every time because I fear that I will find it at the worst time. I could write that my pride never ever allows me to chase people, to beg people, even to ask for help. I could write in the pamphlet that my mother battled with breast cancer and I lost my faith because of it. I could write all this but you wouldn’t believe me.
You wouldn’t believe me because what I wouldn’t be able to put in the pamphlet is exactly what you need to know. I can’t put in the pamphlet how you will feel the first time I lose my temper with you, or the first time I will cry because I have realized your bitter disparagement is who you are and I can never count on you to believe in me. You will never reassure me that I could fly if I really tried to grow wings. I can write that my favorite poem is “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley but you will not understand why until I recite it to you the way it should be recited. I can put it in the pamphlet that I write because there are some things I can’t speak but you will not fathom what I mean until you receive a letter from me communicating things I have never communicated to you before, only them will you comprehend. I can’t put in the pamphlet the first time you hear me laugh and realize that it’s really loud and obnoxious and girly and that I kind of sound like a toddler. I can’t write in the pamphlet that I think I secretly attempt to love the ones who will never be able to emotionally let me in because I know that once it’s over they will be the ones who suffer because they have seen so much love and benevolence from me, and I will win because I have seen nothing. You wouldn’t believe me until we are apart and you realize that you feel the coolness of the earth in your hair and it seems that the sun has been missing in your face for a while now. I could tell you that I talk way too much and way too fast because I fear that time will run out and I will not have expressed everything I wish to express. But you will not believe me until you experience the words I will use to describe your character and I will desperately wish you could use your words to poetically build my story but you will fail not because you are incapable but because you don’t see the world as I do. Overtime I will realize that my candle is burning out because of the coolness in the room and I will eventually become bitter and tempered.
I could write that I am exactly like my father but you wouldn’t understand what I mean because you don’t know who he is. I can’t write in the pamphlet that the problem I face with the people in my life is exactly the problem my father has had with my mother because she never really understood who he was and she never could incite him because she never believed in him, and I can’t write in the pamphlet that my fear is that I will become him and his bitterness will be my bitterness and it will ruin me too. I can’t write those things in the pamphlet because you will not see my face when I’m telling you this and you will not sense the hidden fear of my life through my eyes. I could tell you that I wish of a life worth writing about but you wouldn’t understand me because chances are you don’t see the same world as I do and you haven’t read the same books that I have.
The most magnificent people are the people that challenge our beliefs, the ones that change our theories about the world. The ones that break the silence between what we say and what we wish we could say but are too afraid to speak, the ones that realize all the things that I have mentioned without us saying a word. The ones that understand that I am impatient and hopeful, and that I pretend to be calmer than I actually am, the ones that understand my incalculable belief in art. The people that will understand my obsession with the theatre or the ballet. The people that will accept my flaws as I have accepted them. The ones that will apprehend my boredom with apathetic beings.
One thing is for sure; no time will be wasted. There are many things that I am but lackadaisical is not one of them. So welcome or goodbye. Depending on who you are.