Sunday, December 27, 2009
nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion
I have recently started reading 'The Bell Jar' by Sylvia Plath. I read a quote by Plath the other day that I really liked: "I wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket."
I looked up Plath and remembered why her name sounded so familiar- she wrote a book that I have meant to read since I was in high school but never got around to. I started reading other quotes by her and couldn't believe the things she'd said- things that I have felt but have never been able to truly articulate. One quote stood out to me above all the others. It reminded me of a feeling that I had in high school, after having made friends from a low-income town, consumed by anxiety and sadness and unable to sleep. I found the description in a box of my old papers in my basement. I have edited it because I don't feel comfortable sharing everything on it. I remember the feeling that I had while writing it with a painful clarity. It is difficult to put what could nearly be a diary-entry into the hands of other people, but I don't think thoughts really take on significance unless they are shared.
I don't know why I just started sobbing. Something just hit me that I can't even explain, but I could try. I am only 17 years old. I am already 17 years old. I think the world has been around for billions of years, but I don't really know. I really don't know anything except what I've seen. And what have I seen? Not much. I live outside of Chicago, in a beautiful western suburb. Last night I had people over from a small town [not in the Chicagoland area]. There is absolutely nothing for the youth to do there but smoke pot and listen to music. The parents often smoke too, and having a bong sitting on the living room table is not unusual. I felt so different when I walked into that house, like I was in the movie Garden State. The people there were so much nicer to me than I feel like I deserved. They were so real. I don't know if that's the best way to describe it, but that's the only word I can think of. They didn't need a lot. I couldn't believe that I was less than an hour away from my house because I felt like I was in a different world. I can't even explain. I feel so ungrateful. Life isn't fair. I don't understand why some of the most real and deserving people receive the least. While I know people that are applying to $55,000 per semester schools, they are not able to get their high school diploma from the most rundown hick towns that I have ever seen. It is not fair. The sheer injustice of this all is hitting me like a ton of bricks. I could not believe how completely welcoming they were to me.
I don't even understand what the point is of trying to see everything that life has to offer because it seems like the more I see the more I realize that I will never understand anything. The feeling is driving me crazy. I feel like I have this ridiculous mind that I want to know everything. I don't think I could handle knowing everything. I began sobbing after seeing a town less than 50 miles away from me. How could I go to Africa and see people dying on the street? How could I deal with the fact that I have always lived completely comfortably and still complained, while some people have almost nothing and would still give you the shirt off their back?
Why is life like this? I don't understand why the people with the most are often times the people who seem to deserve it the least. Is karma real? I don't know. There has to be some kind of justice in a world that is the craziest thing that I could ever imagine.
I feel like I am a grain of sand in an infinite desert. I can't stand to feel like this; I feel like I am losing my mind. I can't believe that when I am working in the city and then I realize that probably approximately 10,000 people have walked by me that day. And that's it, they walked in and out of my life in that instant. It is 99.99% sure that I will never see of hear from them again. How come I lead a parallel life to 99.99% of the people in the world? I can't stand it.
I want to meet everyone I want to see everything I want to experience all there is I want to understand everything there is to understand.
But how will I? How will I answer all the questions of the world? I can't. The thought of the immensity of everything makes me unable to sleep. Everything I have experienced, all my memories, all of my thoughts, all of my dreams, all my thoughts, everything that has ever crossed my mind...is in my mind alone. One mind. I can't even comprehend...everyone who has lived, is living, and is to live has that. The amount of love, emotion, hatred, dreams, fears, thoughts, ideas in the universe is the most frightening thing I could ever imagine. And what if our entire universe is a speck of dust in another infinite universe? What if a speck of dust in our universe is a universe unto itself? The potential microcosm, and macrocosm, are terrifying. There is so much in life. I don't mean my life specifically, I just mean life.
Time, a thing that I think we made up, seems to be the most limiting concept I could ever imagine. There is not enough time to see all the things I need to see. I will die before I have even scratched the surface of what there is in life.
How come I can not stop thinking about one person, one person who has essentially removed himself from my life, who did not care enough or was not able to stay in my life, when there are billions of people in this world? I feel like I have traveled millions of miles since I met him, but he remains the standard against which I judge all others. Why? How could I meet hundreds of people in a day and hold true to the fact that I don't think that any of them could ever mean half as much to me as he did? How could I have seen Spain, Canada, England, Ireland, Wales, Indiana, Michigan, California, Arizona, Florida, New York, Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Iowa, and probably thousands of places in between, and still firmly believe that the only place that I will find love is less than 15 minutes from my house?
I have had completely amazing and crazy experiences in one of the biggest cities in the world and done things that I didn't imagine could happen in my life, but the ones that mean most to me are the ones that I know are gone forever. How come my father died tragically early, before I could show him what I could do with my life? How come he became one of the biggest inspirations in my life after he was gone? How come no one appreciates anything until they don't have it anymore?
How come everything ends up so different for people when I really think that everyone has amazingly similar desires and beliefs in life? Love is not a victory march, it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah. To me, though, love is the only reason to continue living. I can't even think about this anymore. I feel like I'm about to start crying again but for a completely different reason. I don't know anything. I don't understand life. I don't know what to do. I wish someone could tell me why I was here. I wish something could show me how to live my life. I wish I understood why things are the way that they are. I wish I wasn't so afraid of the immensity of things. I wish I knew what I could do to make my existence mean something. I wrote this prayer. I just read it and it made me feel a little better.
Dear God, please bestow your mercy upon our imperfect nature. We want to die young but live forever. Please help all those callous to the beauty in life because of the suffering they have endured- all those who can not see the swirling color, light and hope that is always here. For those who long for freedom, but feel trapped. And please help us to realize that even when it feels like all of our uphill struggles leave us headed downhill, that You will always be there to help us back up to the highest peak where we can see the beauty of Your creation stretching infinitely in every direction. Thank You, God, for laughter and music, for the warm sound of an acoustic guitar, the dewy smell of a garden all wet with rain. For the soft brilliance of the stars on a cold November night, the awe-inspiring ocean that stretches as far as the eye can see. For the open road and dense forest, beckoning adventure. For summer thunderstorms, and for the sight of a close friend when we are lonely and tired.
What I stumbled through for nearly two pages was articulated by Sylvia Plath in several lines:
I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.