Written on March 15, 2014
Sometimes I hate being asked how I am. It’s a default question, a courtesy, the most commonly asked one between friends. We ask it with an air of nonchalance, hoping – deep down – for a simple answer.
Sometimes I am afraid of the truth. I am afraid to look at someone else’s pain. I keep my eyes behind my fingers and turn my head away. Sometimes, because I am a coward on most days, I’d rather take the hastily muttered “I’m fine” than all the other answers lurking beneath the surface.
It’s hard to muster up the right words.
It’s hard to be truthful.
When someone asks how I am, how can I possibly explain to them that I sometimes feel like my heart is running on empty? How can I begin to even tell them that though I don’t look it, beneath this tough exterior is a symphony of car crashes and collisions? How do I tell someone that I am happy and lonely and strange and content and scared and tired and a bag of other emotions that I haven’t even begun to understand? How do I say that I am all of these things at once and that I’ve given up trying to make sense of what’s happening within?
It’s difficult. It’s impossible. I’m fine is going to have to do for now.
Today marked my last Lit class for this school year (2013-2014). Through the course of 10 months, we’ve taken up different contemporary short stories by authors such as Murakami, Palahniuk, Vonnegut, Dahl and Le Guin.
We ended with Raymond Carver and his short story, Fat. It’s a story where nothing extraordinary really seems to happen but it ends on such a powerful note:
It is August. My life is going to change. I can feel it.
And the whole discussion and dissection of the story was beautiful, I promise. You’d be proud of me. But it would take too long to talk about here. This, in a nutshell, is what I told them:
“The story seems innocuous and unassuming but what it’s really all about are moments. As storytellers, we’ve been led to think that the greatest moments are born from cataclysmic, extraordinary events — a house gets carried by a tornado, a lover dies, the hero wins, etc. We’ve been encouraged to think in terms of grand life events. But let me tell you: I’m entering my late 20’s and a lot of my best decisions, decisions wherein I was intentional about taking control of my life, happened during moments when I was driving or taking a shower or staring out a window or doing something absolutely mindless. When the epiphany to change your life happens, it isn’t always accompanied by the loudness of life. Sometimes all it takes is the smallest moment to jumpstart everything else. So many things are happening even while you tell yourself that nothing is.”
And as I said all of this with more passion than I ever even expected, I realized that while I was speaking to a room full of teenagers, I was speaking to myself as well.
Something is happening on the inside.
There have been no grand events, no stellar achievements to boast about, no heartbreak, nothing on either side of the euphoria-depression spectrum.
But that doesn’t mean the world ain’t changing because it is. And I’m changing along with it.
If you ask me how I am, chances are I’ll say: I’m fine. But when I do, you’re going to have to trust the world beneath those words.
Something’s happening. Something big. I can feel it