Small Deaths

One of the biggest challenges in life is learning when to make peace with defeat, and when to keep fighting. We all have unfulfilled desires. It’s the unfortunate reality of being human. You can try to satisfy your desires, you can ignore your desires, or you can lose them. These are the choices you have in life. These may be the only choices you have in life—I’m not quite sure at this point. The older I get, the more I think that there is so little you can actually do to change anything. A single person in the world is nothing. You have to align yourself with some kind of group to accomplish anything. Good luck finding one that fits. You end up with pieces of you here, there, way over there; the cubist rendition of A Life.

When I came back from death, when I came out of my grave, I discovered something that is true of all of us. But only those of us who have lost our lives—who have had the opportunity to step far back and observe—can see this truth for what it is. We are, each of us, shattered, scattered, full of holes. We are fragments and shrapnel patched together into odd shapes and textures. We are nothing like what we want to be. We are broken. (Doing philosophy seems to be, to some degree, like a series of small deaths during which one steps back and calmly observes. Perhaps this is why I feel so at home here. I don’t really know.)

The search for meaning, for the greatest love of one’s life, maybe starts with this: we are all human, we are all broken, we are in this together. We are not connected because of the various pieces of ourselves that we place here and there for comfort. We are not connected because of the ways in which our gaps and empty spaces match one another. We are connected merely in virtue of the fact that we are incomplete. Together, we make something. Apart, we make gaps in space.

Today, the wind is blowing through the spaces in my body where I once stashed all of my love. It’s still here but it has shifted and bled into other spaces—places with which I am presently unfamiliar. I have no idea what my love will look like tomorrow, or the day after that. I am not sure why the wind feels so deliberate, so unyielding today. I am not sure why I am always so acutely aware of these raw edges that are exposed to the leading edge of space. I will probably never understand why I am unable to stop being aware of what I am. My awareness of such things make me feel alien, but the truth is much more mundane. I am exquisitely human. I hurt. I bleed. I cry. I need. I want, and want, and…

I love.

I still love.

I don’t understand.

Maybe the purpose of my life is just to be this: perfectly human. That is: broken, scattered, wounded, incomplete, wanting, needing, loving, sometimes alone, always looking pretty much the same as everyone else out there.

I am not sure there is anything else I can be. And maybe that’s enough.