I had an amazing conversation tonight (and in conversation I mean mostly relying on the others’ conversation) about loneliness. For some silly reason, I think that loneliness is my biggest strengths. Here’s my last writing assignment for the semester for my Nonfiction class. It explains why that is. Enjoy.
Assignment # 13: Develop a braided essay that weaves together your thoughts on three abstract concepts (such as time, travel, distance, language, memory history, etc.)
Some Thoughts on Restriction and the Freedoms it Has Provided For Me
A human is not a book. Growing up, I thought that, to be a good person, I had to form myself in the shape of a book and write the letters, B-I-B-L-E on my chest. I had to look like all the other walking, talking, and preaching books that surrounded me. At times, I tried to inch my way out of the pages, the box shape, that I had placed myself in and to allow the ink and the thin leafed pages to escape from the leather binding that became my skin. But each time I tried this, I was met with a subtly severe backlashing from the other books, so I climbed back in and I chose not to think about it. When you’re shaped like a book, you can’t help but feel extremely restricted, so you have to choose not to think about it.
All the while, a steady ticking sounded all around me as I rode a large swinging pendulum topped by stiffly printed Roman Numerals, watching me like attentive prison guards. The two large black hands constantly circling my consciousness always found a way to fill my mind with a panicking sense of claustrophobia. This feeling resurfaces nearly every day, but when I remind myself about the subtle beauty of those Roman Numerals, keeping me safe from free falling down into some kind of meaningless abyss, the claustrophobia goes away.
I feel a claustrophobia in language as well, but this never really goes away. I wonder what it would be like to live outside of language and to release the cog in the portion of my brain that translates signifier into verbal signified. It has forced an anxiety that I seem to carry with me in my every day life. But then I think about the passion this anxiety has created and how reliant my passion has been on the claustrophobia of language. A reliance that I have slowly come to embrace with open, but still rather restricted arms.
This embrace was made easier thanks to my arms reemerging from their former leather bookbinding. I learned to walk without a waddle, which seems simple, but when you’ve lived in the shape of a book for so many years, it takes practice. I was free to evaluate myself and to open up my own pages inside where I learned that no one should live in the shape of any kind of physical book. Instead, everyone should take his or her own shape and let the pages roam free on their own accord, because if you allow yourself to become shaped like a book, religion can be awfully restricting.
It can seem equally restricting to have to constantly stare at those pesky Roman Numerals guards as you try to fit your ever growing list of to dos and desires in that circular setting within the clock. But I’ve recently learned to find the beauty in this setting that has been forced upon us, because the things in life you love the most can be met with a much higher sense of importance and gratitude as you are forced to organize and prioritize around them.
Language is always there, always to be prioritized. It can form isolation, but is yet our greatest tool for community and relationship. As anxious as its restrictions make me, its uses are also my greatest motivators, my greatest passions. Without its restrictions, there would be no need for poetry, which I believe to be any attempt to reach beyond the constrictions of language, yet within its very words. Language and its restrictions are necessary, for without it, I would not be writing this very essay, and I would not find the joy in writing that I do. Because language, like life, is what you make of it.