Do you ever feel like you might be on the wrong side of a looking glass? Walking through short days in the world that looks right, sounds right but doesn’t feel right?
But of course you just keep on walking. That’s what most of us do.
I think many of us have moments of suspicion, the sense the something doesn’t fit and the creeping worry that the we might be the piece jumbling the puzzle.
It is often easier to brush the thought aside like breakfast crumbs, rather than linger long in doubt or look the question in the eye. And so we fill the hidden corners and cupboards of our heads with hideaway thoughts. We hide our confusions but also our wonders – the beauty that blooms without words, the magic that raises an eyebrow.
Do you ever have days when you feel like you somehow dipped your fingers into a pool, slipped past the shallows and felt other current flowing? Felt that there might just be something better, deeper and more vital?
How did we ever get sold on the story that the surface is all that there is, all that there’s meant to be?
Years ago when I volunteered on a crisis phone line. I would spend a night edging around sleep on a mismatched bed, until the phone’s jangle dragged me up and into a cold little cubicle. There I would sit for hours and listen to a slow drip of secrets, the stories that can leave someone alone at 4am, with a bottle of pills and no heart to hold out for another morning.
Those nights were not easy. There were times when I felt utterly inadequate to respond, overwhelmed, undone by the click of the phone that left me wondering whether the person I’d edged closer to down the line, had chosen to try, to wait, or whether they’d quit. There were times when I wanted to hold out my hands to people I just couldn’t reach.
At 8am I would walk out of the office and look at the streets and the people passing by differently. At first I thought of all that was awful, and so terrifyingly well hidden – the rapes, the abuse, addiction, depression and alienation. I was glad that so much was unseen.
But then I began to miss the beauties I saw dimly in those hours of darkness. I missed the honesty of what was simply real. I missed seeing the bravery of someone who is broken, beaten but still hanging on. When I found my own pit of awful I was glad to have heard stories that let me know I was not so alone as my own long nights said.
I was young, younger, and so were the disconnected voices. I wondered if we would grow out of the gag.
But as the years roll on I see that much life sinks easily into silence. Our normal, our common currency is usually fake. There is much we don’t, won’t, or feel we shouldn’t say; we let an idea of what life should be like bully us into not speaking of what is, not letting it be.
The truth can free us but we rarely choose it, risk it. We worry that by showing vulnerability we might create unwelcome obligation, a ripple in the placid pool. We let ourselves believe it really might just be us…
But the truth is our darknesses is a gift we can give someone. It’s a window in on a soul, the chance to connect, to be real,to be an inspiration to someone else.
The bravest thing you can ever do is simply to be real…