“She had been so quiet the entire time, and distant, and untelling, and suddenly with the meal over, she lent forward suddenly in her seat and she said, ‘What is there in physics for you?’. I said, taken aback but unwilling to fluster in front of the most serene person I’d met, ‘The whole world. What’s in history for you?’ and she smiled and said, ‘I’m not sure history is where I should be, if I’m honest. Sometimes I think I should be where you are, looking at the smallest thing and seeing everything.’ And I remember asking what she meant. She said, ‘Don’t the physicists say that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction?’ and I was kind of scared to speak because I had lost the thread of the conversation and so I nodded and she said, ‘Well, do you believe it?’ and I said ‘Of course I believe it. It’s science.’ and she smiled and said ‘So what I mean is, you look at the glass on this table and conclude there is upward force keeping it up and a downward force keeping it still, excuse my wording, but that’s the general concept of the science, yes?’ I nodded. And she said, ‘And you look at this glass, of millions of glasses in the world, this one no more significant than any other, and see every other glass out there. But also every other chair on the ground, book on a shelf, house on a road, person on the street because for every action, there has to be an equal and opposite reaction?’ I nodded. And she continued, ‘So it would be nice if that was transferable. If I could look at history, at humans, and say for all the wrong, there is an equal and opposite right. For all the hurt, there must be an equal and opposite comfort. But that isn’t true. History reads a lot more like regardless of all the right, there will always be wrong that rises. If History wrote Newton’s law of motion, it would be that ‘for every action, there is a reaction’.’ And I remember sitting in silence and trying to find the point and she took a sip of her drink and seemed to smile with every other facial feature beside her mouth and she said ‘What I mean is Physics is indiscriminate law. What happens, happens and it always will and always has, as long as the math is right. Physics provides undeniable reassurance and security that the world is. History provides undeniable anxiety and disquiet that the world is.’ And I have never forgotten to remind myself that beneath all her encouragement and faith in the human race, she knows better than anyone what the world can be and I admire her courage every day to wake up and believe in us, even so, in spite of the science.”
“I was raised in a scientific household. I was told nothing was fact until all other routes had been tried and disproved. There is no science in history, I admit. It’s easy to invent prediction from past. Even if you were to make a hypothesis, you would never be expecting to conclude on world peace. [smiles] But, yet, I have faith. While collectively we may not always do right, there is proof we do feel a magnetism to what we could call ‘good’. Humans are compassionate, which means benevolence is in our best advantage and there is, then, good reason to hope that should evil rise, there will be few brave enough or compassionate enough to find what is right. For every villain, there is hero. I cannot promise that this will be equal, nor exactly opposite, as the science and the facts don’t disprove otherwise. But I can tell you, there is good reason, sensible cause, to hypothesise that this could be so. And here is our little victory over science, my fellow historians, science is nondiscriminatory. What happens, will always happen, so long as the math is right. Which means the laws of science are fixed. Humans are not so inflexible. Just because we haven’t always found good so instantaneously does not mean it will always be so. In fact, there is no science to disprove that, in history, for every evil there is a greater benevolence. We have the magnificent task of creating the laws we intend to live by. History does not work on proved and tried testing, it works on human action. What history does not account for is the reaction to equal or oppose each action. That is all for us to decide. There is no reason why we can’t write the equation to be exactly the reaction we desire. Granted, writing an equation without a framework can be daunting so I suggest we start somewhere basic but somewhere judicious. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. For now, I think that simple law could be the beginning of something hopeful.”
I hope you’re okay. Well, not really. Okay would mean you’ve latched on to someone else and that’s not what I want. I guess I hope you’re not miserable. Which is ironic. But that’s what this past month has done; made me somewhat ironic.
I know now there is forgiveness in letting go of things, of releasing control and relinquishing judgement to a status of irrelevance. It brings you a comfort that can only be described as fear. When you have no parameters to judge your life by, no order, no knuckle-whitening grasp on norms, no judgement calls to rule your standards, your life can become a full force tornado of everything. If you let go of everything, you don’t have nothing. Instead, you can have everything. This is far scarier. And far more comforting.
Don’t have me misunderstood, I did not let go of you. I lost you. In the chaos of moving. That is something else entirely. But I used to think of you as something that was either present or absent. Now you are more like a layer of paint on my walls. You being there, your presence, is irremovable. I can paint over you and chip you off. That’s it, more or less. You’re presence wanes, takes new shapes, transforms, like something lunar. I’m happier with you like this. I don’t thank you for my happiness because you’re gone because now I know I can be happy even when you’re here. It’s a more complicated process but if I let go of you, which I have, you can always come back. I could always brush your fingertips while trying to reach the stars. I could accidentally open my door to light and find you in my hallway. This is what I live with now. It’s scarier. But it’s more comforting. You are always a possibility but so is everything else.
So I hope you’re okay. I hope you’re enjoying being free for a while. I hope you’re keeping your eyes wide open at all there is out there now that you don’t need to fixate on me. We’ve lost each other and maybe that was our breath of fresh air. We don’t need to find anyone else, or anything else. Just knowing that there is more out there, releases us. How could we have been so narrow-sighted? There is a big blue world out there and not all of it is going to love either of us, or be good to us both. But, not all of it will punish us either.
We were cruel to each other. We loathed the other’s presence but we never left, hated it when we managed to and were all the more cruel when we came back together. We were bitter. I’ve let go of that now. I’m trying to be softer. So I hope you’re okay.
And it doesn’t matter if you don’t hope that I am okay. I’m trying to be softer and that means a lot of things. It means ceasing to expect and starting to accept. I hope you’re okay and I’ll accept whatever it is you hope for me. But I won’t expect it.
Write to me if you want to. We lived under the same skin. Your voice is with me always. In the creak of a door and the drip of the taps, but, still, it would be nice to hear from you directly.