You want to know how you came to be, little one? It’s much too long and strange a tale for tonight, but I’ll tell you just a piece of it anyway, about who you came from, and how they suffered to get you here. They each lived in their own little box, you see, and although their bodies were almost always in close proximity to one another, they might as well have been living galaxies apart, because each box was its own world, vigilantly kept separate from the others. Can you imagine? Their doors were always locked. This is how they hid from each other, and from themselves. They hid when they were together, too, in their screens, in their silence, even in their words. Especially in their words. They chose all this and called it freedom, called themselves highly advanced and privileged. Many of them thought they were wealthy. Some of them thought they were gods.
If they were graced with sensitivity, they wept, but their grief went mostly unseen. No one was supposed to weep outside of a box. There were some boxes built for weeping, but if they wanted to weep in those boxes they had to pay money to do it, to be seen in their grief. If they didn’t want to pay money to be seen, or didn’t have money, but still needed to weep un-alone, they had to know someone who was similarly graced with sensitivity. If they didn’t know such a person, then they wept alone, or not at all. If they did, and they had strength enough to hurl themselves out of the false comfort of their isolation, then they could go over to the other’s box and weep there. But however they wept, if they wept at all, it had to be done inside a box, hidden, kept under control. They thought they could control everything, even their grief, and all their other gods, too.
Why did they hide? And from what? We aren’t sure. No one remembers. Perhaps they knew, without knowing they knew, that if they began weeping outside, seen, it would spread and cascade into a grief too big to control—a chain reaction of realization, a positive feedback loop of feeling that was generations in the making—and the heaving grieving of the people would roll through their society like a great flood, and in so doing, crush all their boxes. And they loved their boxes, or they thought they did, so they stayed inside them, and wept there instead, if they were lucky enough to weep at all.
It gets stranger: we don’t think they knew they were hiding. We’re not even sure they realized they were afraid, and if they did, we don’t believe most of them understood why. We suspect many of them knew that something wasn’t working. They blamed it on all sorts of things—the terrorists, the corporations, the government, the bigots, the bleeding hearts, God, godlessness. Something was in motion, this they knew, or pretended not to know, and it was coming to change everything, and so they stayed hidden as best they could.
But listen close now, child: it was the hiding itself that wasn’t working, the inability to weep in the streets, the unwillingness to be broken open and to be witnessed that way. It was the hiding all along, you see. The hiding. They wanted to survive life intact, but they forgot that at its root, “intact” meant “un-touched,” meaning that the only way to remain intact was to remain untouched, and, as even you know, little one, to remain untouched by life is to be dead before you die. So, confusing a death wish for a survival strategy, they hid, and, quite naturally, they suffered. Humans were made to be broken, to be touched, and they were doing everything they could not to be, or to pretend that they weren’t when that’s all they really were.
It’s a long, strange tale, and the hour is late. Go on to sleep now, but before you drift into your dreams, give thanks to these people we’ve been speaking of tonight, your ancestors. None of us would be here without them.