The first thing to happen to me was birth. I think about this often. I contemplate. Over and over. I reflect on things that have happened to me throughout my life, either by my own doing, or at the hands of the universe, or a force I don’t give much thought to.
Things happen. All the time. They shape who we are.
As individuals, we’re all sitting at a metaphorical potter’s wheel; our clay is soft and wet to the touch, and it spins in an endless motion. It forms new shapes constantly; versions of ourselves that, once finished, can only be shattered into countless sharp, unforgiving shards.
Growing up, I’ve endured pummelling heartbreak, inconsolable, life-altering loss. Sparks of raw happiness; glowing joy that emanates from my chest so bright and bold I feel limitless. I’ve experienced crushing agony, intense passion, unrequited lust, bubbling envy, hollow emptiness, desperate loneliness, wild rage and beautiful, complex and all-consuming love.
All of these jigsaw pieces of emotion live on a giant, smooth surface in my mind. Like the surface of a board game with ladders that ascend me to great heights, and snakes that wrap themselves around my legs, restricting my progress.
Most of my waking moments, I swim through the endless ocean of my emotions, letting them pull me together and tear me apart at will.
I am helpless.
I’m pulled under the surface and I am hopeless. Victim to the strong current pulling me further into an abyss and further away from myself. I crave the sand beneath my feet. I miss it and I panic because I can’t remember what it feels like. All I can feel is force.
Then, I’m raised up and pushed back to the surface until I am weightless. Floating in the calm, quiet peacefulness of me. I exist. I can feel the current ebbing and flowing ,surging through me, reminding me that I am here and the sand is always beneath my feet.
I’ve done so many wonderful things; many terrible things. Both to myself and to others. Sometimes it’s for no reason at all and sometimes all I want is to be seen.
I like to be seen. I like to be seen for the bright, shiny dynamo that I want to be; desperate to be untethered, to rise up as far as I can go before I burst. Sometimes it’s a bright explosion of warm light that touches everyone I love down below. Like glittering, shimmering confetti, kissing their eyelashes, the tips of their noses, their lips. Gently. I want people to bask in the joy I feel sometimes in my own vision of who I am and who I want to be.
Other times, much more often, it’s a quiet, sudden pop; simple and empty. It sits in the shade. A slow, perfunctory deflation that wilts me down to absolutely nothing. A momentary fog of my own making. There are no witnesses; no glitter, no gentle kisses, no warmth.
I like to be seen in the thrilling, moving uncertainty that life has gifted me. The shapes it has allowed me to create, the stories it allows me to tell. The feelings that it forces me to sit with. The discomfort in my actions; the cruel words, cutting remarks. Behaviours that threaten to drown me in perpetual sorrow.
I wonder endlessly about being seen.
How does it feel to strangers when our eyes meet? What does it mean? Do they wonder what I would be like as a friend, a lover or an enemy had we met under different circumstances? Or am I simply a swirling shape on the potter’s wheel?
A shape formed in the same love, fear, rage, confidence, lust and passion that they are, but with different blemishes, maybe. Formed in a slightly harder, less malleable clay. Forged in more sorrow, joy, despondency than they are, perhaps?
Or do they not see me at all; is it so fleeting that it doesn’t make an impact; there’s no sound. Just shade.
I wonder endlessly about being seen.
The first thing to happen to me was birth, and the last thing to happen to me will be death. What we experience in between is fluid; it moves with the tides we create, the room we give it to breathe, and it treats us with the same force we give it in return. At no point is anything we experience certain; at no point is it definitive.
There is nothing certain other than birth and death. Everything in between is a daily practice run.
I want so badly to get it right.