We can only express the things we have a language for. Like the light blue color of the sky at noon when the sun is hard on your face, or a mathematical equation that adheres to our logic. We can only talk about the things we have concepts to help us describe. If we don’t have clear concepts, we find it difficult to express our feelings and experiences. We have a hard time explaining our pains. What does a headache feel like? What does a broken ankle feel like? We mostly explain it as… pain. It “hurts”. It might hurt in the front of the head, near the forehead, behind the eyes, or it has a “stinging pain” when we put our foot down on the ground. But we can’t really come closer to a succesful description of our experience.
Likewise it’s hard to describe love. Love is such a catch-all concept. Which effectively renders it a catch-nothing concept. What does it mean if I say “I love you”? There are a thousand ways for a person to love another person. There’s not some checklist. If there were any clear-cut desiderata, it would probably start like caring for the person. Enjoying the person’s company. But even there it seems to come up empty. I can love a person without knowing if I enjoy their company. And I can love a person without being overly caring towards them. I can love a person in so many different ways that the person shouldn’t even be expected to know what I mean when I say “I love you”. My feelings could be a reaction to any given set of qualities I ascribe to that person. Anything that to me makes that person extraordinary.
I mean, how do I put into the meaning of “love” all the things that make the person so very special to me? How do I exclude those notions that I don’t think of? And is it even important that we have a common understanding for it to be working? Are vague concepts maybe perfectly fitting for human interactions? It seems possible to me that we are such vague beings ourselves, without clear definitions of what “I” means and what “life” means, that it would be weird if all of our concepts were perfectly cut, ready to be applied in every situation. There’s something human about the fuzziness of concepts. There’s something relatable about our lack of clarity. Something romantic about remaining a mystery to one another.
There’s pain in those eyes. The kind of pain that comes from too much experience, too much knowledge. The unshakable burden of having seen too much. The twitch in the left eye, regularly irregular in its sudden shifts. Flinching from the danger that will strike in half a second twenty years ago. Eyes like these make you realise that a map is just a map, when the same event is as present here as it was there, at the very far end of the map. We never have trouble leaving these places, but sometimes the places have trouble leaving us. They become part of us, always right under the surface, as a second home, an unchosen home, that we know like we know our own heartbeat: completely and not at all. These places are the lands of closed eyelids, and we can never close our eyes to them. What use is running when the thing we’re fleeing lives inside? What dreams do painful eyes like those have? What happens in the deep of night?
I’m not trying to hurt you. I care too much. My words aren’t meant to offend you or make you even more sad than you already are. I just don’t know how to handle this any more than you do. You know my go-to approach is to look for solutions or ways to gain something from even the shittiest of situations. What I said about you needing to be less dependent on other people wasn’t something I said to get rid of you. That’s not what I meant. All I want for you is to get better. But I do think it’s important for you to need other people less. I’ve had this thought for a couple of years, and I’m sure I’ve told you before. You haven’t really been alone for the past 7 years. You have always had a boyfriend who could be there for you whenever you felt sad, and me if none of them was around. And now, for the first time in a long time, you’re really on your own. I know it hurts. I know it’s tearing you apart. And I try to help you keep yourself together. But I won’t guide you through this. Because I can’t. And because you need to figure this out for yourself. This is your chance to really grow, to become self-dependent. This is your time to find out who you are as a person by yourself, and not as a person in a relationship. I know you’re sad. I know. And I know you’ll probably say that I don’t know what I’m talking about. That I’ve never been in a situation close to what you’re going through. I don’t claim otherwise. I don’t claim to know how you feel; what you’re feeling. You’re the only one who’s ever made me truly sad. And that sadness was about as self-inflicted as can be. So no, I don’t claim to have any knowledge about the pain you’re feeling. Your emotions have always seemed a far off country to me. But I do know that there are a number of approaches one can take when facing difficult situations. I hope you choose to finally take a step back and just live, figure out who you are. Learn how strong you, as yourself, can be. Let the Earth run a lap where you give your heart a break. I know I could need a year off. I can’t even start to imagine how much good it would do you.