We have a space in our living room. An emptiness. We can’t walk through it, so we go around it. We can shout from either side of it, but the sound won’t pass through. We live our daily lives navigating around the space. Accommodating it. Accepting it.
Letting it grow steadily bigger.
Of course, we can see each other through the space. We smile and we wave and I can see them laughing but i can’t hear it. I’ve tried so many times to just reach through the space- arms outstretched and desperately grasping- but the space won’t allow it. It doesn’t want me to.
The space pushes me out. Out into the outside world, which wouldn’t be so bad- if that’s where I wanted to be. But I don’t have a choice. And so I join the masquerade, and all the while that space keeps pushing at my back. Pressing so hard against me that at times I feel as though my ribs are going to break.
We slowly learn to live with the space. We are so used to it now that we don’t even notice it most days. But I know that it’s there. I have to walk through it every day. I feel it surround me. Reminding me always of its presence.
I still can’t figure it out. Is it necessary, and I just don’t know it yet? Is it something to adapt to, or something to overcome? Is it temporary or permanent?
I hope for a time when the void is gone, even as at grows steadily smaller and smaller. It pushes at me less, but it’s still there. Unavoidable. Until, hopefully, one day it wont be anymore.
A phrase I’ve heard often through life is ‘everyone wants to talk but no one wants to listen’. It’s a phrase I’ve always found difficult to relate to, as I’ve always found myself so eager to listen. Perhaps even too eager. I am very guilty of eavesdropping, but only because I can never say no to the opportunity to hear a story that I’ve never heard before. Everyone has a million different stories inside of them, with another million ways to tell the same tale. Who am I to say no to the privilege of hearing one? To deny a story is to deprive yourself of so many possibilities. A person’s time should be divided equally between talking and listening. By favouring one over the other, we are missing out on so many opportunities. I don’t mean to say that talking is bad. After all, if no one talks, how is anyone meant to listen? However, if no one listens, then why talk at all? I am trying to find an equilibrium between the two, to create a constant cycle of storytelling. My own neverending story, but with slightly less luck dragons.
I first realised I was in love with listening when hearing a friend talk about their passions. We had been making small talk, but when they started talking about a movie they loved, their whole person became animated. It wasn’t just their face that changed but their posture, their whole attitude. Watching them come alive like that while they talked about all the little things about the film that they loved down to the finer details was captivating. Seeing how happy it made them that someone was listening to their enthusiastic ramblings just made it all the sweeter.
On the other side of the coin, nothing feels more comforting to me than realising the person I am raving to about a book I’ve read or a game I’ve played is smiling and nodding along, hanging on to every word I’m saying, even if they have little to no clue what I’m talking about. Oftentimes in the past, I was spoken over or laughed at when trying to describe the intensity of something I’d enjoyed. I think that is perhaps why I value listening the way I do now. It feels good to no longer have to silence myself. It feels good to encourage people’s voices to be louder. All you have to do is lend an ear.
My whole body aches all of the time. Call it fatigue or strain or growing pains, I don’t know. I just know that it hurts, but that the ache mostly makes itself at home in my hands.
It’s hard not to crack my knuckles all of the time. I feel like my fingers ache with all the words I can’t won’t don’t write and all of the songs I don’t know how to play. Things I never built and things I should have broken.
Instead I’m just pressing buttons all the time, and my fingers are rotting and wasting away from misuse and I pick at them and pick pick pick and bite the skin from my fingertips and I paint them pretty colours but they’re still ugly and useless.
So I’ll try crack them back into place, but I fear that they’ll never move like I want them to, never make or touch like I want them to. That the rot will find its way to the rest of me, and I won’t be able to do anything at all.