“We are so wild inside,” you say, finally, and you’re not sure if you’re serious or mocking her seriousness. You’re not sure but you know it’s true. You keep your tangled heart a secret but you know it looks the same as hers. Looking at her, it beats and beats against the cage of your ribs, and you want to touch her but you don’t. As if touching her could calm it down, as if you could drown yourself in her skin and hear nothing, not your own heart’s beat, not the fish swimming through the houses, not the water lapping overhead. She sits across from you on the dock and suddenly you know that all of this has been a mistake. She is right. She cannot give you what you want.
People are frightened of themselves. It’s like Freud saying that the best thing is to have no sensation at all, as if we’re supposed to live painlessly and unconsciously in the world. I have a much different view. The ancients are right: the dear old human experience is a singular, difficult, shadowed, brilliant experience that does not resolve into being comfortable in the world. The valley of the shadow is part of that, and you are depriving yourself if you do not experience what humankind has experienced, including doubt and sorrow. We experience pain and difficulty as failure instead of saying, I will pass through this, everyone I have ever admired has passed through this, music has come out of this, literature has come out of it. We should think of our humanity as a privilege.