The Immutable Laws of Silence & Distance

Colored panels in Beijing 2018

Colored panels (Beijing, 2018)

What a strange feeling, to realize that you can never really touch anything.

I type this inside a speeding car, believing I am sitting comfortably, except my body doesn’t even truly touch the seat—instead, the electrons of this seat repel the electrons of my body, ensuring that I am only ever so near, but never really.

And it is the same for everything that we will ever encounter in life: even the longest, most heartfelt embrace between two lovers will remain to be, ever so slightly, distant.

How strange this is—this concept, and that the universe is really, mostly empty space: particles whizzing and buzzing in the lonely silence.

This emptiness is so immense that the whole of humanity could actually be compressed in a single sugar cube, if we had enough energy to compact all of us into that infinitesimal thing.

I think about the year that has gone, and I observe as many of my friends and family write what the year has meant for them: celebrations, reconnections, accidents, deaths.

Happiness, sadness, loss, grief.

Each event, a bookmark. A neon highlighter marking chunks of text on a thick gray book.

The year has been wonderful to me. The year has also been challenging for me. Unfamiliar cities and countries I’ve traveled to, a breakup that happened midyear, an unexpected eviction and a harrowing two months waiting for the new place to move into.

Loves lost. Love gained.

I remember everything. I feel everything. And I’d like to believe that this is what is means to be truly human—to remember and to feel. To continue to remember and feel. To never give up on experiencing and learning from all the happiness and pain, as overwhelming as they can both be, at times.

But, much as I am grateful for the dog-eared pages, I am also grateful for all the fillers, the flatline of ordinary life.

I will only skim just above the surface. I know that I will never truly understand everything fully. Perhaps even the greatest love and the greatest hurt will only be a semblance of what those feelings are. Perhaps everything I sense are mere shadows cast by the ideal, as if I watch them in the darkness of this cave.

There are only a few hours left until the end of 2018. I am not demanding for a plot twist, for a sudden change in direction. I am content with my discontentment of all the blank spaces and uncertainties.

Give me this silence—because in the silence, in the gaping maw, in the pause of the seconds, I imagine us coming closer, despite how there will always be this distance we cannot transgress.

I will look into that abyss ahead, yet unspeckled by light—and take it all in, smiling.

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