Once upon a time, there was a very quiet girl who felt alone. During the day she took the bus to school, she ate, she spoke when she had to, she ate, and she took the bus back home. At night she watched television, used the internet, went to bed and slept with her eyes opened. She couldn’t stand the stillness of the night, the silence, the absolute silence, the one that sounds like a cold gust of wind, the one that moans on a gloomy day when the rain blinds the city with a grey veil. The one that wraps around your soul and fills it with agonizing sadness. She couldn’t stand it. She couldn’t live with herself. Nothing made sense. Everything was meaningless and useless. There was no function, no reason, to do anything at all.
She decided that she had two options before her- The first, was that she should kill herself. The second, was that she should do something about her life. For those of you who have contemplated suicide, you know how ‘messy’ the whole thing is. It involves too many decisions and questions. How do you end your life? Do you slit your wrists? Is that too cliché? Do you jump off a building? And if you do, which building? Should it be somewhere symbolic? Does it matter? How many stories high? But most importantly, you tend to realize that death, like life, affects the people around you. If her life was meaningless, why bother to use it to upset the lives of others? As if there wasn't enough pain to go around. As if there was any pleasure in watching people burn. No, she had passed that stage. It was all pointless. So she decided on the second option, that she should do something about it. If her life was meaningless, she might as well use it to make the lives of others a little bit better. After all, there was no need to go looking for death when it would come looking for her, sooner or later.
She would not let herself be a burden to anyone. She would not ask for anything. She would be a tool. She would do whatever she could and she would wait patiently for her time to die. She allowed herself to be made used of. You have nothing to complain about no matter how tortured, abused, or mistreated you are if your life is originally meaningless.
If she could not take her own loneliness away, she would at least try and lighten the loneliness of other people. During the day she kept her friends company and listened to them and the subtle changes in their tones. She watched the way they paused, the times they bit their lips, the manner in which their eyes darkened and widened and led to another dimension. During the night she ate with her father and took in the secrets behind his curved hunch, his sigh, the squiggly lines on his forehead and his hard-wearing smile. She held her mother’s hand and tried to squeeze warmth into its coarse, pallid skin. Sometimes people just want a physical presence, something soothing and soft and yet sturdy, like a shoulder to lean on, a comforting voice, or just a single firm word of understanding.
When you make people the core of your life, you construct a new universe for yourself, a concrete place you can actually live in for a while longer. You no longer exist on your own. You can forget yourself. Not every thought is yours. You are among people. You hold on to them. You mingle and merge with the energetic flow of the lively crowd. Every face is yours, every outburst of joy, every vibrant colour. But eventually the crowd will part and you will find yourself standing on an empty street alone. Everyone has to go their separate ways, sooner or later. And there are only so many pieces of yourself you can give away before you crumble, before the hollowness you always were reveals itself.
One night, the silence returned. Was it time for her to go? "Come, come... Take me," she thought, "This is too hard. I am tired of trying." What difference did it make anyway? Her actions bounced off walls and the echoes ebbed. Why try? Why be good, why be kind, why care, why live? It was all pointless. Everyone is in pain. We are born alone and we die alone. Let gravity pull everything down into a final act of devastating destruction. She would simply be one less person, among a swarm of unending heads. But then she heard something else too. Voices. In unison. Calling her name. There were hands, long tender fingers, which held each other tightly and made a raft and carried her body off into the light so she glowed luminously like the full moon."Let us tell you a story," they said, "There was once a wounded animal, who curled up like a ball in the snow and waited to die. While waiting to die, it dreamt of someone who came and who scooped it up into the gentlest of arms and kept it safe. It's wounds were carefully treated, it was given water, food, and the utmost attention. The snow got heavier. Sheets and sheets of white. Slowly, the animal froze to death. In the morning, when the snow had melted under the sun, a passer-by stopped dead in his tracks to examine the dead animal before him. He marvelled at the number of dead animals lying all around it, side by side by side, a sea of forgotten corpses, all who had taken their last breaths unaware of each other."
This is a very lonely and proud world we live in. No one wants to be the first to confess their weaknesses. No one dares to say, "I feel alone" or "I am in love with you", because if they say it, it means that they have ‘lost’, it means they have relinquished their power, they no longer have the upper-hand, and it makes them vulnerable. No one is foolish (or is it courageous?) enough to open themselves up to potential rejection, to more hurt than they already have. There are doors to a million hearts that pretend to be closed, but are actually open, open, open. Walls are built with the intention of being broken down. Masks are worn with the intention of being peeled off. Everyone is looking for someone else, someone who carries enough love and trust with them, who can muster enough strength to fight for them.
Softly, they added, "You took care of us. Now it's time we took care of you. We need each other. We leave, we love, we break and build each other. Whatever it is, we are all we have left. We'll go on together, for as long as we can, until we are forced to part again."