The question, the question, always the question: do you remember? The answer, the answer: how could I forget?
Somebody touched me once. I don’t even need to close my eyes. I can still feel their fingers burning me at the lightest of thoughts. They weren’t touching my skin, they were touching my soul. A long time ago there was a boy who showed me just what a human soul is capable of; we were both just a couple of kids, we didn’t know any better.
How could I possibly ever forget?
It seems like everyone’s terrified of being alone. Or rather, they’re terrified of being lonely. When you’ve lived with someone else under your skin for so long, that’s the most frightening thought in the world: being by yourself again. You don’t want it. You shudder. You’d rather live this half-lit, twilight, no-man’s-land life than live like that.
But the thing is, you’re human, and you don’t have a choice. Our bodies and veins and muscles and vertebrae are forged to be single entities, it’s only our minds that we can fuse. At the end of the day when death greets you like an old friend and you take him by the hand and say yes, I am ready now, you’re alone. You can kick and scream and love and cry as much as you please.
But at the end of the day, you’re alone.
And that’s the beauty of being human. That’s the thing that makes death peaceful, mortality bearable, this whole messy affair slide sharply and wonderfully into place. Our bodies are made to be independent but our hands were forged for holding, our eyes were drawn for seeing, our lips were sculpted for laughing and smiling and talking and our arms—our arms are just the right size for reaching out. The beauty of being human is that you can share that person. You can strip back the curtains of skin and bone and lay yourself bare. Look. See. This is me. This is who I am. Then—only then—can your soul really know what it is to be entwined with someone else. Then—only then—can you look death squarely in the eye and say yes, I am ready now. I have been alone, and I’ll be alone again. But when you’ve given your whole self to someone else, are you really alone? Now there are two people who know every last beautiful curve in your soul. Now there is an imprint of you in someone else that no death, no darkness, can ever destroy. You are eternal. You will be eternal. Someone else knew, for a time, that your beauty existed. Someone else saw it too. And that’s all that matters.
￼But how can you ever expect to give yourself to someone else, when you don’t know who you are? And how can you know yourself when there’s other people tangled up in your head and your heart? How do you distinguish them from you, when you don’t know what you’re looking for in the first place?
We’re all searching for the things we don’t know. We’re all bumbling around, blind and in the dark, hands held out in front of us, hoping to God we hit upon the light. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you meet someone who gives you a flash of light. Sometimes they give you a flare. They light themselves up in a peal of fireworks and flame, they take you by the shoulders very gently but firmly, and they point you in the right direction.
And someday you’ll meet someone. Maybe it will take you many, many flashes of light; maybe it will take you through many twists and turns in the dark and probably you’ll be alone for much of this. But you have to understand, all that darkness you went through only makes the light, when you find it, so much sweeter. You can’t give yourself to someone—you cannot love someone, you cannot let someone love you—until you know yourself inside and out, backwards and forwards. And tell me, how can you know yourself when you’ve never been alone? How can you ever be happy with someone else when you never took the time to learn how to be happy with yourself? If you can’t be bothered to learn your own nooks and crannies, why on earth should someone else?
It’s frightening and it’s terrifying, and sometimes the darkness seems so horrible that you think it’ll swallow you up… but it doesn’t. And that’s the first thing you learn when you’re busy in the process of making your soul your own again: you are, surprisingly enough, capable.
You can see yourself through these storms alone. Once upon a time you didn’t think you could. Once upon a time, you didn’t know the strength that runs in your arms and your legs and your hands. But that was a long, long time ago, and wouldn’t it be fun to see just how far you can run by yourself? Wouldn’t it be fun to see just what you can do?
And some day, you will meet someone and quite suddenly you realize that they’ve been there the whole time, and you just didn’t see them. You didn’t quite know what they looked like yet. But now they’re here, and they’re here just at that moment where you’ve realized how truly wonderful you are, and you will believe them because you have found what it is to be human. You have picked yourself up. Dusted yourself off. Tied your shoes again, straightened your shirt, kept on moving and stumbling and dancing through the dark. You know yourself. You know what you are capable of. You know what you are worth. You know how to make yourself happy and in doing so you know how to make someone else happy.
It’s possible, you know.
But being alone is an integral part of that, and it seems like an awful lot of people these days are too scared to take that leap of faith into the darkness, and into discovering yourself. But you do, and you should, because in the dark there are parts of you which you can’t begin to imagine but are the only things that will ever help you find the light again. And it’s normal and human and real to be afraid, but when did fear ever get anyone anywhere?
All that time you spend discovering yourself is worth the fear. There’s a long dark tunnel with a light at the end. I don’t know much, but I know that it’s worth it.