The written word is a wonderful and nasty thing.
Done right, it can paint a picture, tell a story and give you insight into what the writer is thinking. Done wrong, it can distort, harm and pulverize whatever intention the original story had, not to mention color the writer in a dark matter that he can’t escape.
OK, that’s a bit thick, but here’s why: I’ve tried to write a piece here about one parallel question and one parallel lesson learned from a local and a national event. I went through five different versions, coming at it in different angles and styles, looking for that right combination to tell the story and give you an idea of what I’ve been mentally going through over the past couple of weeks.
But I failed. All five times I finished, I read it again, walked away and read it some more. Then I deleted it. Each time, the thread that binded it was too thin, too flimsy to keep you, the reader, from believing that I was comparing one event to another.
So, here’s what I’m going to do. Here’s what I learned and what question has arisen through these weeks, leading to several after-hour conversations with my wife and countless reassessments: No matter how well or how long you know a person, deep down, you don’t know them. And… Why?
The lesson and the question are mutually exclusive, so don’t compare the two.
The lesson is a harsh one to learn, but important only because human nature is a fluid and unsettled notion. I’ve know my wife for seven years and we’ve told each other a lot of stories. She knows me better than anyone else and I know her better than anyone else. But do I and does she? Is there something I’ve forgotten to tell her that may give her a better grasp of who I am and possible help predict what I may do later? Is there something she hasn’t told me or I’ve failed to notice?
It is a fucked up lesson, because it breeds mistrust and a bit of paranoia. If you let it, it can make you question everything and everyone around you… if you let it. But it is there, unfortunately.
The question is universal: why. In this case, why does someone do what they do? What was in their minds when the decision to do what they did and why did they choose that? Why risk everything for something that can affect more than just you?
Yes, I’m beating around the bush, especially since I won’t tell you here what these two events are. You’ll just have to ask me individually. I’ll explain it, because I can’t find a way to explain it in print without distorting what I’m trying to get at. (I may be failing at it here, I know.)
So, to quit while I’m behind, the written word is a wonderful and nasty thing. So is human nature, too.
(c) R. Burns