Imagine all you have done – every accomplishment achieved, badge earned, failure absorbed, challenge undertaken, battles lost and wars won – imagine the sum total of all your experiences that have led to you knowing who you are at this point in time.
Now erase it. Wipe it away with one broad sweep. See the mural of your work disappear under one, two, maybe three strokes of paint, leaving nothing more than a bland white wall.
Next, try to convince everyone who stops by this wall that this amazing tapestry, this colorful landscape, this eye-popping abstraction used to live under that nothingness. Initially your enthusiasm catches a few passers-by. Maybe a few stop to listen; you gain momentum with the hope that someone wants to know and maybe even see the picture that has vanished.
Then the questions come: How did you know it was there? Are you sure that’s what it looked like? But why did it have such color? Did it have enough shapes? Did it have too many shapes? What made you put it there in the first place? Did it even belong there?
If it was so good, why is it gone?
You leave the questions unanswered, or more likely you realize your answers can’t satisfy the requirements. It is like describing the taste of an apple to someone who has never eaten fruit. The desert doesn’t imagine the damp of the forest, because the desert knows no need for rain.
How long this pursuit continues depends on how long the memory of the colors, lines, and contrasts persists. Our memories are not nearly as good as we would like them to be. Perhaps the wall was always white. Perhaps what you imagined was really just a dream.
Perhaps reality is just a big, blank, white, empty wall.
Do you stay and keep looking? Or do you walk away? Something inside you sheds a tear because it becomes clear that both leave you alone.
This is the fear, the angst that if nothing is left we will disappear. To be seen is to be known, and to be known is to be alive. But if I only live to be seen, I will never notice the picture of the other I so desperately need to recognize me.
Vanish…were we ever there to begin with?