‘The human condition is always about greater truths but we’re not ever going to know the full facts.’ Is that why we tell people our secrets. To let them walk as close to our truths as much as they possibly can. To be seen. To be seen deeply. Is that why we sell those pieces of ourselves. Those bits of us that are and are not pain or need or loss.
I’m listening to Phoebe Bridgers’ ‘Smoke Signal’ as I write this. There’s a line ‘one of your eyes is always half shut, something happened to when you were a kid. I didn’t know you then and I will never understand why it feels like I did…you must have been looking for me.’
Secret. From Latin secretus meaning to set apart. Etymology aside, I’m interested in them. The dark hidden things. Robert Johnson writes in Owning your Own Shadow that there is in each of us three of us. A persona, representative of how we wish to be and be perceived. An ego, what we consciously know we are and a shadow, the unknown regions of ourselves. So which of our three keeps our souls and secrets.
Are you looking still? What are my secrets, you wonder.
There are the trivial ones. I always stole food from my grandfather’s house to feed the chickens though it angered the utilitarian in him to see such waste. He shouted at me with that military man’s voice and I always cried. Always. But I never stopped. It was the first time it occurred to me that I was stubborn.
In class eight, Mr. Mose declared that I had to name a noise maker. I refused and Bryan got the brunt of it. It was made clear that I had to watch all twenty painful strokes.
I didn’t go to my grandmother’s funeral because I didn’t want to remember her dead. I kept smelling her perfume on strangers at the ferry and following them. She was taken in the night so I feel a special duty to keep vigil at nights during family illnesses. I should have been more awake then. There is no closure from some things. Some things just always go on inside you in some way.
While rafting in Sagana, I got pulled under by rapids. In panic I held on to the nearest person I could reach. I could have drowned her but I couldn’t let go. There’s no selfless in fear. Only that same taste of metal I had as a child when I was asked to hold a grown chick in my hands. Held it with the same tight fearful grip that killed it. I still feel the same impotent shame at both memories.
I wonder if you’re still looking…because the song hasn’t stopped playing in the background.
I went out looking for a girl with the campus guard at the hostels in Parklands on a Friday night in third year. She’d been assaulted and could not be traced. It seemed like the thing to do on that Friday night. Looking back across the seven years, I know that if it had been a girl I would have named her Pandora… ‘the all-gifted’. Because nobody says how when all the evils of Pandora’s Box escaped, Hope remained. Hope remains. And I would have wanted another me out there looking for Pandora on the Friday nights when the devil is loosed.
I never voted so I share substandard think pieces online. Where else can we buy certainty but from anonymous political commentators.
Are you still looking for me?
I think we’re all broken, me more than most. I think we’re all winging it. But I think there’s still forgiveness. I think there is need and want and hunger. But sometimes the loneliness feels familiar than your looking. It feels easier to be alone though I know it takes less courage to be loved. Less of everything.
I was never kind to myself. It was more important, after a life time spent between and inside books, to analyse than to feel. This is a kind of cruelty. And I wonder if those around me felt the burden of that cruelty. Its aftershocks. And I wonder if that’s why you eventually stopped looking for me.
The Earth Turned to Bring Us Closer
by Eugenio Montejo – translated by Peter Boyle
The earth turned to bring us closer,
it spun on itself and within us,
and finally joined us together in this dream
as written in the Symposium.
Nights passed by, snowfalls and solstices;
time passed in minutes and millennia.
An ox cart that was on its way to Nineveh
arrived in Nebraska.
A rooster was singing some distance from the world,
in one of the thousand pre-lives of our fathers.
The earth was spinning with its music
carrying us on board;
it didn’t stop turning a single moment
as if so much love, so much that’s miraculous
was only an adagio written long ago
in the Symposium’s score.