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There Is No Thesis
If you're thinking, "time for another self-deprecating poem by an angst-ridden teenager" then:
1. I'm offended.
2. You're right.
But not like you think. Like you probably have, I've sat in classroom after classroom and written essay after essay, ad nauseam. So, this wasn't supposed to be an essay, and it didn't start out that way. But poetry — I love it, I bleed it — sometimes isn't enough. And anyways, anything can be poetry if it does it's job: translates between two souls with the kind of understanding that only a beautifully-constructed metaphor can bring. I hope, whoever you are, wherever you are, that you can understand my broken English. That even for a fraction of a second, you can see into my void of a mind and not get lost. Good luck. It turns out speaking your mind is harder than you'd imagine, especially if it's gone.
3. I guess I'll start out by talking about thoughts. (My English teacher would kill me for using "I guess" in an essay. Sorry Mr. B.) Anyways, isn't poetry funny? All it is is thoughts. Analysis. Overthinking. Thinking about thoughts of thoughts. No wonder they say writers are insane. Any kind of art takes a certain degree of madness to be able to hold a mirror to the human soul. Who wants to stare into the abyss? No one.
But some do.
4. And I think that thoughts are a tricky thing. Ironically, only stupid people underestimate that. Not that intelligence isn't just as hilarious. Self-awareness and consciousness in general is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you get this beautiful thing called life. On the other hand, you get this horrendous thing called life. That's because it comes with an expiration date. Time's a b****. To become aware of yourself just long enough to see the end coming — that's just cold. Makes a person desperate for the impossible... For some semblance of immortality. Makes you hope. Not realizing hope is just an evolutionary trait designed to ensure you'll wake up in the morning. That you won't kiss the pavement the night before, calling to you from two stories below like some serenading lover. Everything we do in life is in preparation for a future. Go to school so you can get a job. What's the job for? Food, sustenance, stability. The furthering of existence. We persist.
Until we can't any longer.
And I admire that kind of dedication — I do. After all, I'm writing this, so I exist. Despite almost insurmountable odds. But that doesn't stop me from wondering at the futility of it all. If anything, it allows it. And however contradictory that sounds, it is no less true to my beating heart. Beating day after day, faithful... Yet the heart is the symbol of love, and every lover I've had has left me. And so one day my heart will stop and my breath will leave me too. And if that doesn't concern you, you're not human.
5. I have to pause and say I'm sorry if I come off as depressing. I know that if you're given a gift as wonderful as life, you should accept it and keep any complaints to yourself. And life definitely is wonderful. The sweetness of an apple does not lessen just because it will one day rot. This is today, and I'm biting the damn apple, and the juice is dripping down my chin, and it is wonderful. The apple will rot one day whether you enjoy it or not. So you might as well enjoy it, right?
6. That same desire to make the most of what you have while you have it is what f--ks us up. If only we didn't think so much. But we do — we sit in our beds at two in the morning, and our lives flash before us demanding to be scored. Our hope does not temper our honesty. We become our least favorite teacher, marking mistakes in red pen and angry yellow-jack highlighter. Grading on the bell curve. Comparing our score to our next door neighbor, who's fast asleep. They seem like they're doing so much better — that's the problem. We never see anybody as wholly as we do ourselves. If we did, we'd realize that being good at drawing is just as important as winning a Nobel prize in physics. That we are enough. That Einstein was just a person too, and he was right (shocker). Goldfish, in fact, do NOT climb trees.
7. Still there's a part of me, the human part, that objects even to this. That is never satisfied. Even if we all understood each other, we could not satisfy the emptiness inside that craves that A+. That's because validation isn't all it's made out to be. Ask the therapist who's seen a countless number of kids reduced to labels. Begging for labels. As though having one will validate everything you feel inside that screams you do not work right. That you are somehow broken. Mine happens to be "depressed." What's yours? Is it "gay"? Muslim? In the race to define ourselves; to shine brighter than the next star — in that race, we let definitions become us. A reversal happens, and what used to express what we are inside is now a fine print stitched onto our skin — that people actually read before opening. But open me up. See inside. You'll find the same stuff in me that's in you. Guts. Blood. Water.
Validation. Does everything have to be so two-faced? So slutty? The same comfort I get from knowing you bleed the same blood I bleed is the same discomfort that has me paralyzed from the neck down. If you don't know what I'm saying, let me put it this way. My life is a quotation, a reflection of everyone around me. I am a product of my environment. Even that which is innate to me was passed on genetically, and everything I do to be original is just what everybody else is doing as well. We fool ourselves into thinking we're special. Unique. But saudade — coming outside of yourself, recognizing the personhood of another person — it ruins you. You think, "Have I ever thought a thought that is truly mine?" Or am I an echo of past generations, and generations to come. So be careful with your need for validation. My mother once told me, when I was upset, that I'd never have a problem that nobody else has faced. She meant it to be comforting. And in a way, it was. But that was the day I realized there's only one story, and we tell it again and again, hoping ours will be the one that has a Happily Ever After.
When the most honest ones simply write: "The End."
8. My paralysis comes not only from the outside, but also the inside. From indecision, from wisps of thought that run into the next. A distraction of the cruelest kind, never allowing me to come to a complete conclusion. Maybe you can see it, in action. The way I break everything down into it's finest detail, it's smallest parts. Never able to see the big picture, or if the pieces align. And so if this all seems contradictory, it probably is. Don't bother pointing it out — I already know. It's just that I don't think anybody is perfectly coherent. Myself included. And I refuse to proofread myself. I'm sorry if the lack of a thesis distresses you. It distresses me as well, but so does disingenuity. Anyways, the point is my mind is held together by twist ties instead of rubber bands, and they get unknotted all the time. My thoughts are connected by tangents; a spider web of neurons going nowhere and everywhere at once. And just like them, I am a raindrop on the window, running into all the others — irrelevant.
Because the only clear thought I have is "not enough."
9. If you've made it this far — congrats. Trust me when I say, as tired as you are from reading this, I am a thousand times more exhausted writing and rewriting it. So if you've made it this far, thank you. But also: I'm sorry. Because if you've made it this far, it means that some part of this speaks to you, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Cheer up! Emotions are fleeting and happiness is a state of mind. Don't let anyone tell you you don't have a choice. Because you do, and while not many intelligent people are happy people, I think it's dangerous to confuse intelligence with cynicism. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, beyond reach, and beyond what we want to hear. The lies I tell myself concerning the futility of life weigh no more than the lies my father preaches from his pulpit on Sundays — and vice versa. We are all just struggling to be alive.
But what do I know? Rushing around, making a fuss, feeling important — what comes of it?
10. So if it comes across like I think I have all the answers, I apologize. Or if you think I'm at all sure of myself, read back over with a magnifying glass. Because you haven't been reading very carefully. Everything I write is for myself, but introspection is a dying field and often confused with preaching. Well I am but a woman and I'm not allowed to preach, anyways.
11. I'm not bitter, it's just that everything I once held dear now haunts me at night, and I can't shake the nostalgia. I'm talking about faith, and God, and magic. Disillusioned idealism... the cancer of adolescence. Rejecting old morals for those that are newer, and perhaps shinier — climbing down from the shoulders of giants because you're too old now for piggy back rides anyways. But I changed my mind because of questions that have not yet been answered. So for now I remain sad — regretful, even — but resolved. Nostalgic, but not enough to pray.
12. The problem is that I am changing constantly, so much so that I am never certain of who exactly I am — one moment this, one moment that. And never bettered. An evolution. Adapting to the constant battering of the human mind, with no end in sight. I wonder if I'll ever find those answers or if I'm doomed like the rest to always be searching.
It's dissecting me, arranging my features in ways I do not recognize. I stare in the mirror and see a stranger looking back. And they are not impressed.
14. God, everything is fake. Tell me it isn't. The small talk, the glassy-eyed smiles. Maybe that's why I'm unable to form meaningful relationships, and ruin the ones I have. You see, sometimes it feels as though everybody's acting a part in a movie, but I didn't make it past the auditions. Not even an extra — an unwanted blemish, taking up too much space and breathing too much oxygen. I apologize to everyone I meet with my eyes, and ask for nothing.
15. Except for when pen meets paper and somehow I find my voice again. Joining a chorus of people all fighting to be heard — and I will be heard. I won't let the apple rot. I'll consume it and once it's gone, I'll be okay. Always am.
16. I'm trying. But I can't shake this dead weight dragging me down. Experts attempt to explain why depression is so prevalent in a variety of ways. Increasing, spreading — an epidemic. Did you know that our bodies are not made for a sedentary lifestyle? That the mind has not been able to evolve quickly enough to accommodate a world that no longer struggles to survive. A new battle rages now, when all we have left to do is sit on our over-fed asses and think.
17. See, whatever course of action we take is superfluous. We have too much time, and spend most of our days trying to figure out what to do with it. Survival of the fittest becomes survival of the smartest, the most creative, the most innovative... the most talented. I sit at home, paralyzed by how I'll never be as good a writer, as good an artist, as pretty, as smart — not as good. That's all I am. I am not. And this realization leaves me with no excuses left for pretending.
18. You label me. You say I'm depressed, and lazy, and young. I say life will always find a way to weed out the details. That history books can only hold so much, and I am unwritten. At least that's how I feel when I pick up my paintbrush — as though I'm shouting into a dark and empty cave and even if it echoes once or twice it will eventually fade away. My voice has always been too quiet, too meek.
19. And so you say I'm depressed because of many reasons — lifestyle, brain chemistry, choice. I say the human condition has changed, and we're only just realizing the ramifications. That once you stop laboring sunup to sundown for your next meal... Once you lay in bed at night in a fancy L.A. apartment... That stargazing stops revealing wonder and awe and the stars start gazing back. And what they're saying men have guessed at for centuries. But I'm telling you they're not trying to save you. One will not fall from the sky just so men can wish on salvation. If they're saying anything, it's "f*** you." But mostly they're laughing. At the irrelevance of the human spark, which tries to burn like the sun but splutters out sooner than a matchstick.
And then they look away.
20. Because I am nothing. And since I am by no means special, you are nothing as well. But that scares us, so we invent whatever lies will turn the sky back into cloth with holes poked in it for light. Instead of a mirror. Ancient, silent, cold. And we pray. We pray that we're wrong, simply diseased. But no amount of pills or pardons can wipe away the sin of such a meaningless existence.
And if, after all is said and done, you still need a thesis — let that be it.