As an adult, I have always been afraid of relating too much to a horror writer who I had admired as a teenager, but who over the years has received a lot of bad press for his racist views. Some of his stories concealed a distortion in how he saw people who were different to him; with fear and loathing, cloaking them in horror and darkness. But I have still always remained interested in him as a person.
Like him, I’d had a long-term partner from a different ethnic background to me, who I had become separated from – and for the few years following, I had a terrible fear that I was going to turn into him.
I had already started thinking up a maxim to myself that too much failure isn’t good for you. It can turn you against the world, and make you jealous of those that succeed!
And I could begin to see that I was not only failing at my creative aspirations, but also at human relationships, that other very important area of your life. Failure at one, often tends to cancel out the other – but people also fall into the trap of nurturing one in spite of the other. I was beginning to taste the bitter lemon cherished by Sufi poets.
However, the thing that pulled me out of a hole was starting a new job; but more than that, it was a girl who worked there. She was from a similar background to my ex, and she began to say hello to me each day, asking me how I was going. Not flirtatious – just friendly; and although this would not seem like a big thing to most people, it was of great significance to me.
I felt something in me turn over. Those few years where I felt like I was trapped in the past, fearful of the future, and resentful of the present – seemed to be changed by such a tiny gesture.
I felt something being renewed in the present moment; something good for now, not an echo of the past. Which is a strange way to resolve a feeling of fear – but that was all it took.
These kind of feelings are ethereal; they have no basis in everyday conversation. They can’t really be measured out in words; and are more along the lines of a heroic act, in that talking about it doesn’t really add anything to it, the act speaks for itself.
But sometimes you still want to thank the person for it, even though you can’t really. There are many gestures like that residing at the intuitive level of life, where some of the grandest things are communicated; and trying to catch them in words is like grabbing at a snowflake: You open up your hand to show them, and it’s gone!
Photo by Wang Xi via Unsplashed.