I know you.
I know things about you that you would never speak aloud. I know things about you for which there are no words.
I know the moment of confusion that borders on pain when you reach to lift something that is heavier than you thought, and those little bones in your wrist make themselves known to you by flexing to let the weight slip from your hand.
I know what it’s like when you are walking a path that you know well and trying to remember something at the same time and you suddenly look up and see that you’re in a place that you know, but it isn’t where you thought you were because more time passed in walking than you thought.
I know that being hungry makes you afraid and that being afraid makes you angry and that you snap at people you like if you miss a meal.
I know that in your heart you want to believe that you are a good person and that you try to be a good person but sometimes you have to smile when you don’t feel like smiling because you know a good person would smile and that faking it feels like lying, feels like admitting something terrible.
I know you.
I know things about you that you want to believe that nobody knows.
And you know those same things about me.
There are no strangers here. We are all lambs in the same open-air butcher shop. We’re all walking down the same slaughterhouse ramp, looking down at our shoes and making small talk about things that don’t matter to keep from saying, “Oh, I noticed that you are dying, too.”
We are all of us infected with the human condition, machines of meat listening to the slow and incessant beat of our mainsprings winding down, watching each new sunrise with a joy that fades over the years into fear and wondering is this the one? Is this my last?
Don’t try to lie to me. I know where you live, I share that cage of bone. I dance to those same rhythms. Adenine. Guanine. Cytosine. Thymine.
We know that. We are born to a short walk in the sunlight and then the night waits for us. We are all of us the dead on holiday. Given the age of the universe we can scarcely be said to have lived at all.
Why do we lie? Why do we pretend that what we are has substance and meaning? And why do we lie to the others like ourselves, the ones that we know must know the truth?
Why do we lie to ourselves?
If we are as we are told we are, jigsaw puzzles of sinew and gristle, beasts of fluid aspect and brute appetites, why should we feel shame at speaking it out loud? Why should mud pretend that it isn’t mud?
Perhaps it is because we know that the truths that we are allowed to admit are true are not the whole truth. Perhaps we know that we are more than dead things waiting for a burial.
To be human is to be more than just a human being. I know this, and I know that you know this.
Don’t try to lie to me.
There are no strangers here.