I want to tell all of you I understand now, why you did what you did, if only because lately, I’ve been asking myself how we can want something so badly that is so wrong for us, even though, at the time, it doesn’t feel wrong at all. And even after we get it–or don’t–and we are able to harness the power of hindsight, how it is that uncertainty can linger still. Was it wrong? I don’t always know. I don’t know that I always can know.
I’m told I’m supposed to view the world as black and white, but maybe it’s my photographer’s eye that can’t help but see in shades of gray. Yes, some things are black, and yes, some things are white. But there’s a universe of hills and valleys between them, and those crests and troughs cast shadows, which means making distinctions isn’t always so simple. And even if I do manage to differentiate between dark and light, to catch that light in a jar and use it as a lamp to guide my way, there’s no guarantee it will stay light forever. There’s no guarantee I won’t pause one day and notice that what I thought was lightning in my hands is nothing more than lightning bugs, not eternal but temporal, and that means they will die. And what does that mean for me?
It means that when the world grows dark again, I begin to ask, if everything comes down to love, and if God is love, isn’t it easy to see how a person could get muddled up in that? I want to cry for all I thought you were, each of you, and for all I now know that you’re not. Some, I don’t think about much anymore, while others are still grafted on the surface of my mind. I see them in my empty hands, which each day gather nothing but more scars–the slip in the kitchen, the scrape on the wall, the welt from that jar I just couldn’t open. My hands, the one part of my body I actually like, growing more and more damaged every day. Empty hands, naked hands, save but one white gold reminder, and today, it is not a reminder I want.
In a song called “Between the Lines,” Sara Bareilles sings, “No right minds could wrong be this many times.” You would think so, wouldn’t you? But the truth is that right minds can be just as bent as wrong ones, if not more so, for right minds are aware of the good and evil waging war inside of them, and when both sides can be seen, it can make it that much harder to pick one. And even if, in each choosing, I am pushed closer to that elusive concept called “I’ll know better for next time,” and even if, each time, I catch on faster, let go sooner, I have to wonder–is the lesson ever really learned, or does it continue to slip past my grasp as something that I, in my frail human state, am not meant to learn?
Could it be that things like this, like love, like lust and wanting, are simply–and yet, so complicatedly–gray because they point us to the few things that are true, that are black and white? Is that what is intended by these tumults of emotion, to teach us to rely on something nowhere near as unsteady, unknowing, and wavering as ourselves? I wonder, because I am an introspective person, and so I have a hard time believing if a concrete lesson were there to be learned, I wouldn’t have caught on to it by now. So this makes me think the lesson is something more abstract, something that is telling me what I feel is not always right or wrong, but that it is not my feelings on which I need to depend–because look how they change. Look what you did, what we didn’t do, what I’m doing still. It’s not black and white. It can’t be.
In Lying, Lauren Slater asks, “Why is what we feel less true than what is?”
I could tell her.