Author’s note: So… this essay is the reason I started a blog. Yes. This one essay has plagued me and molded me enough that my New Year’s resolution was to finally give it a home that wasn’t right behind my eyeballs. I wrote it in college five years ago after studying Thoreau. My assignment was supposed to summarize his philosophies, but I couldn’t do it. I guess you’ll see why. Anyway, since I wrote it, this essay has always been in my head somewhere. Lurking. It’s as much a part of me now as anything else I’ve ever created, and one of my biggest regrets in life is that so few people even know it exists. So now I’m finally sharing it. Other essays, poems, and stories will follow, but I always knew that it should start here.
I haven’t changed anything about it, though Lord knows I’ve tried. I must have tried to change it 100 times. But I never could. Maybe if I put it up here, someone else will read it, and maybe they will help me make it into something more than it is now. I suppose we’ll see.
Thoughts and Thoreau
“I have broken and tarnished you. I have shattered you upon mortal asphalt in an attempt to make you visible…”
It would be a disgrace and mockery to Thoreau to sit and discuss what he has already written. To think and rethink what has already been thought. It is a mockery of the brilliance that makes up the human race to rehash fragmented information that has already been bleached by constant exposure to sunlight while new, beautiful crystals remain buried beneath minds that have yet to unearth them. We each have our own thoughts to ponder, and should focus on their perfection. Each essay composed should be truly original. Anything else is less than fulfilled potential.
All thoughts are perfect from the beginning. Mere thoughts are more complete than stories, because there is so much feeling, emotion, and subconscious levels in a thought that cannot be brought to the surface with words or letters without diminishing the complexity of the crystal that the mind held only moments before, but which was dimmed and destroyed the moment we tried to explain it to outside sources. Why try to explain something that makes perfect—more than perfect—sense inside one’s head, when all that you succeed in doing is humanizing that which is Divine? Why lower God to our standards by discussing Him?
How many half-finished thoughts and phrases, simple words or letters have we written inside notebooks, in margins or on napkins, then hid safely away, without bothering to add more to that which already makes sense? Perfect sense in our own head. All one needs to do is look at the tiny fragment of an idea that was so quickly jotted down, and the thought—the complete and utter thought with all of its layers, colors, and linked ideas that spread together like spider webs, which you can see parts of pieces of each, though they all also spread further outwards—is there to behold. But to try and phrase such thoughts so that others may see them, peck at them, destroy them or claim them as their own? We destroy such perfect things by trying to pull them from their essence and explain them.
Why must we write essays on such specifics as names, dates, and ideas put forth by others years in the past, when our very own ideas, more perfect than any we have thus far read because they have not yet been destroyed and tarnished by becoming little more than ink on paper lay within our own minds? Why must we articulate for others that which should only make sense to us? Why should we duplicate things that are solely ours and therefore diminish their value? That which I have shared with others is no longer my prized possession. But then we are told that we are selfish if we do not share, or else we are put under the impression that we are not smart enough to articulate what we have hidden within us. But who can do such a thing? Who can truly put the complexities of a thought into words and not diminish the immortal entity which is our mind into mortal scribbles that consist of only twenty-six designs, none of which can truly grasp that which is not in the three-dimensional world we know? And if one is not smart enough to do such a thing… by who’s standards are they not? Their own? Hardly. And yet should it not be only our own standards by which we live? For it is our life, our thoughts, and our satisfaction that propels us.
If a person wants to live, they should live because they want to. Others will see it and commend them, and that should make them happy. But they should not try simply because of the commendations that will come. And it should not be the astonishment of others that pleases the individual. For that would be living for standards and ideas that are less perfect than that which has not yet been defined out loud. Should we truly let others see our diminished ideas and watch them mock what they do not understand… cannot understand, as they cannot see the swirling colors or true spider webs that the ideas are? No. For it should not matter that they mock our ideas. They are ours. And as long as we understand them, if not in their entirety, then at least in more ways than simple words can allow, then are they not more perfect than anything that can be read or discussed? Is it not right that we may leave forever the buildings, papers, books, and words that try to bind what cannot be bound into suits too small for the true entity that is? If one were to leave everything and find a lake somewhere where all they have is their ideas…leaving even the fragmented thoughts and jotted words that are no longer any use as they never have to worry about coming back and finding the right words for what they could not find then, will they not more truly understand what they are thinking? Yes. Could they ever prove it? No. Should they have to? No. And yet will they want to? Yes. Why? It should matter only to the individual. A revelation that would be…could be… only theirs would make no sense to others, and yet we find ourselves wanting to share these things not so that others can understand it, but because then others would be given the chance to discover their own. Would we want to know of others’ revelations? Yes. Would they be able to relay them in all of the necessary complexity? No. Which is the problem. To diminish an idea is wrong.
Was this what Thoreau wanted by telling people to do what no one else had done? That is impossible. If we all leave ourselves and our lives, we are not doing something new, but only what he did. But if we leave ourselves and lives and then proceed to see the ideas and thoughts which are only true in our own minds, which cannot be confined or placed in essays or in buildings or books…that is new. That cannot be done before or after. But can it be done now? Can we ever truly understand that network of colors and half-formed ideas that elude words? Sometimes, when we stay up all night, plagued by thoughts while slamming away at a keyboard that cannot possibly respond quickly enough or convey everything clearly enough, we come close. But even this process of typing is wrong. Typing is meant to show yourself and others what you are thinking using words, but that doesn’t work. One would have to sit, meditate, for days, and let the thoughts form truly in their own essence… whatever that thing is that cannot be described or grasped by hands or mouth or words but which is doubtlessly there. The thought. The beautiful, perfect, untarnished and wordless thought.
A thought is not something that can be described and understood any more than colors can be. You can say yellow, but a blind person cannot see yellow. One can describe his thought, but no one else could think it as he did. So does not writing them down diminish them? Confine them? Yet how else do we articulate them, pass them to others, define them? Maybe after we sit and let it form truly and fully in that way that is not a word or color or picture, we would come closer to finding the words that are there, and we could share them. But it would never be perfect. It can never be perfect after leaving the mind it was created in. The mind it created. Sometimes we know that after we stop typing, after we got to sleep and wake up, our papers will no longer make sense. But that is because we have confined them to words. We will desire to sort through these things and pick what can be put into an article. An essay. A page. A sentence. But it will only diminish the already diminished further. Picking and choosing already fragmented ideas. How can we learn to fully relay what goes on in our head?
The only perfect ideas were small ones. I am me. There is nothing more perfect than that, for the speaker may see the words and think of all that they imply. A million essays would not explain the complexities and deep meaning that a single word holds for an individual. And still that word is not perfect. I am not only me. I am more than a name. More than a gender, a race, or any single word that could be used to define the greatness that is a human being. I am a million thoughts trapped within a body of flesh and blood.
I would want someone to read this. Once. The whole thing all the way through and not say or mark anything until they are done. Do not give them a chance to confine their own thoughts that will spread wildly in many different directions with each word. And they will want to catch and articulate those thoughts before they are lost. But that is impossible. That is what I am trying to do. And I am failing. I do not want to try to discuss this and further fragment what is so nearly perfect. What was perfect before I wrote it down. But I want to make sense of it. To make others make sense of it. But these are just fragments. Three pages of fragments that may combine with the hundreds of others that I have written, saved, forgotten or thrown away. Notes on half-dirtied napkins, an entire notebook of just what I was thinking at any point of time. Single words. Rain. Rose. Sunlight. Shimmer. And the millions of extensions surrounding each.
How can I write an essay on thoughts as deep as these? Thoughts that cannot be written? How can I write about Thoreau and his ideas when he could not, himself? Not truly. You can see it in his words. He writes so much, trying to find that single phrase that eludes his grasp. That would illuminate everything. But he cannot. Our thoughts are not in words. It is wrong to diminish them. And yet we do. We have no choice. We can try, and we might be able to succeed in grasping these ideas in their full power, but we could never relay it. What good is an essay if it does not explain what it is meant to explain? It cannot. The ideas… the thoughts…they’re all there. But they elude the foul stinking ink that is this typewriter. I can see them, feel them, and understand them, until I try to think them in the words that I truly do understand, then they are jumbled and lost. How can I write this? How could he? Ah. But that’s it. He could not. You can see it.
This is my essay in the truest way I know how to write it. Do not think about it or the thoughts it brings to your mind, or you will destroy what it has awakened in you. Hide them. Don’t try to put them into words, or they’ll be broken. I will fragment this, just as it is already fragmented and turn it into something easily understood, but it will be less… perfect. But know that this is my truest work. It is closer to my true work than any other will be. Because it has made you think thoughts not words. Don’t destroy them! And don’t think about it like that, or they will be destroyed. That’s why this essay—this almost perfect essay—cannot be graded, though it is the best. Just put it down and forget it. Burn it if necessary—this thing you hold in your hands that is nothing more than paper and ink. For the paper and ink is not my essay just as I am not Tahani. Do not turn to this as though it is the thoughts and ideas that are buried under it. Do not look to the ink and paper and see thoughts. See what’s more than ink and paper. And remember what thoughts it awoke in your head. A picture is worth a thousand words and a pure unblemished thought is worth more than a million pictures. Has this essay not made you think at least one true thought? Don’t answer that, for by bringing the thought to life you will destroy it. But it is there now, and it wasn’t there when you started reading this. That is the essay I have given you, really.
The following was written after my previous writing earned me a failing grade and was called “gibberish.” I’m not sure I took it well.
Oh, Thoughts!! How can anything in the world be so freakishly wonderful, so immortal and beyond anything human…? How can anything be so Divine, and yet plague me so ferociously? Has there ever been such a torture as having something so perfect in your head, something just beyond words or articulation, that you simply must try to share with the world, and all you succeed in doing is failing… showing yourself your own weakness and inability? Your own stupidity. For that is all I have ever really shown when I try to explain the perfection of things that I can almost grasp, but that are ultimately beyond my comprehension. I am not smart enough to think the thoughts I do. To try and unravel them. I try to write you down in all your wonder, and I am told simply that you are inconceivable. Gibberish. And I feel as idiotic as I doubtlessly sound. I must wonder at the fact that I am so below everyone around me in my intellect that I cannot portray the thoughts that are mine. The things that I conceived. Those gems that are in my head and causing me physical pain even now. It is like seeing God, and being blinded by His greatness. But no one understands when I try to draw them a picture that will not blind them. So in the end I am plagued alone with this burden of having seen something great, and now only seeing blackness, on top of being laughed at by people who do not understand. Who see, but who see only blemished water paintings compared to what they just can’t quite visualize. What I have seen and cannot describe.
They see childish scribbles. And I must wonder whether or not I am so far beyond them in my thoughts, or if indeed I am insane and comprehending things that are not real? That are not comprehensible. The greatest tragedy is that I am not truly understanding these things at all, despite what I try to convince myself. I am just trying and missing. I am only showing my weakness and my inabilities. My possible insanity.
How many people before me have considered themselves lunatics because of their inability to explain what they saw so clearly? Why am I unable to be like the great philosophers who could show others their ways and make them see? Instead I am told that my thoughts are gibberish. Gibberish! Oh, Perfect Divinities, I have broken and tarnished you. I have shattered you upon mortal asphalt in an attempt to make you visible. Even now I desire nothing more than to stay here in my room, unmoving and unblinking, as I continue to try and unweave your intricate designs and endless mysteries, but at the same time my only desire would be to unweave it in a way that could be repeated, and in doing so I would simply cut up your strand. I fear to tell others about your perfections, because they will only deem me insane. How many inmates would I have in my asylum that were only trying to comprehend the mysteries of the world? How many others will join that have broken themselves over this futile quest? How many other people have been pounded in their headaches to the point of blindness, of unceasing tears, as I am now? How many others have seen perfection, and told that they were only seeing children’s scribbles?
The worse question of all: if the brightest of those I know do not understand, who else is there to ask? Perhaps the others in my asylum will know. Maybe only God will. Eventually I will show you to both parties, and maybe someone somewhere will understand. Or maybe all will end up as it began: I am but an infant trying to understand the universe. I can only present the world with scribbles clutched in an untamed hand.
Author’s note: So there you go. I still question whether or not I’m crazy. I’ll post more as more things come to me. You can decide for yourself whether I’m insane or not. Until then, take care.