This life is a dream running rampant. The more I try to grip reality by its hackles, the more it eludes me. I’m trying to remember messages coded in the faces of the people I see in my dreams. When I wake drenched in fear and need to turn the light on, what was it that was said to me before the blade pierced my heart? I seek to remember what it is I am supposed to remember. The message is a tear-slick balloon string. It slips so easy from between my fingers and I watch helplessly as it joins the heavens.
Moments of poignant clarity are so rare, they feel hallucinogenic. Oh, I think. That’s why that happened. I had something to learn. From my greatest moments of pain I cultivated my greatest understanding of the nature of things. Now, when darkness begins to creep around the edges of my vision, a part of me is thrilled. It’s a twisted sort of revelry in suffering. I welcome whatever message is next. Fill me with truth until I’m bursting. Let the dam break. I’m here to rain on your parade, but only so I can water what will grow from the wreckage.
I have no delusions of grandeur. I understand my limited reach. Two and a half decades playing this game has in no way made me an expert. It actually feels like I’ve only just passed the first level — the boss to defeat was my own ego. Should I have checked for a pulse before I moved on? Will I feel it huffing on the back of my neck the next time I feel threatened?
Years ago we sat huddled at our church, the Denny’s on Harrison, sharing our midnight testimonies. We swapped stories and got high on each other’s laughter as our usual waitress kept coffee flowing, treating us like family. It was a stomping ground for folks of all kinds; study groups and prom queens, first dates and late-night family outings. Each table was a window to humanity. We were on holy ground.
I care not for the rigidity of faith that, despite its best intentions, is divisive. My scripture is old birthday cards and polaroids. My orthopraxy is the softness of interactions, seeing people as they are, not as I wish them to be. My hallelujah is windows down and the radio up, a song with a memory carrying us from streetlight to streetlight. Moments like these cannot be captured. This is what makes them divine.
I remember being wounded. I remember wounding others. Around and around we went on this carousel of characters, passively and aggressively seeking whatever it was that we were missing, removing pieces from one another instead and becoming angry at attempts of reclamation. We all became mosaics of one another. From a distance it was beautiful, but up close, it was broken. We felt broken. We felt ugly.
It has taken what feels like eternity to come to grips with my guilt and shame. I felt used, so I used others. I danced around the drama triangle, spending enough time in each corner that my actions felt justified. Victim, rescuer, perpetrator. Victim, rescuer, perpetrator. And around and around and around we go. A dizzying and dazzling array of fiction that catches and refracts the light to illuminate our perceived shortcomings. No wonder we’ve been so disenchanted.
Now I see beauty in the fragmented nature of the way our stories diverge and entwine. The ebb and flow feels less like a rollercoaster and more like a river to float down. Grudges are malicious ghosts and forgiveness is exorcism. Sometimes we must be pushed to our breaking points to understand the monolithic love we all have the capacity to share.
Apologies feel overdue and insufficient. I think we all have an inkling of where we feel we failed one another, and that inkling thrums among us and drives us to be better. Changes we see within ourselves help us understand that everyone has the capacity to change, even those we perceive as irredeemable. The ephemeral nature of life itself is our evidence. The witnessing of history is our hope.
Each crossing of a path is a strengthening of a structure. Even when we fracture, we remain an integral part of something much bigger than ourselves. We can rely on those around us to keep our pieces contained so that when we’re ready, we can arrange them how we like, vanquishing the fear that the gazes of others will warp our beauty.
Whoever you are, thank you for being a part of this mosaic. Chances are, you were a lesson, and an important one. So was I. So are we all. I don’t know about you, but I’m more than ready to escape this prismatic prison and let it all go. Nature abhors a vacuum, and we have the capacity to fill the void with something much better. Reality may be slippery and strange, but we have much more control than we think. As you are suffused with pain and heartache, an alchemical event is already in motion. You are becoming.