“The worst thing about falling to pieces is that humans can do it so quietly.”
“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald
That is what I felt when I put these two quotes together for the first time.
Starkly absent of cynicism, pessimism or optimism.
Stripped of any hues of Life.
That’s what I felt.
I then sat back and said “whew, if I felt that … imagine how someone feels who actually writes these things.”
And maybe that is my point.
Most of us can only imagine how this starkness feels.
Most of us, at our worst, get only a glimpse of this starkness.
And, even then our stark is most likely not this stark.
Now, this kind of starkness doesn’t usually ‘just appear.’ In fact I would suggest this type of stark is an outcome of humans falling to pieces incredibly quietly.
I do know that starkness is difficult to express to someone who has never seen starkness.
I do know that there are most likely more people who, on the outside, are holding their shit together so well that most of us don’t even think to offer a ‘are you doing okay’ question.
I do know there are far more people who so quietly are falling apart than we believe.
So here’s the deal.
Falling apart is falling apart. What I mean by that is everything, and I mean everything, that falls apart makes some sound. You just have to listen closely enough to hear it.
No, now you’ve got me interested, I want to know
exactly what seems wrong to you, how something could
seem wrong to you. In what way do things get to be wrong?
Yeah. But. You have to listen closely for the sound one makes when they fall to pieces quietly.
It may be just a whisper of a sound. You may even confuse it for the rustle of falling leaves.
Quietly or not, as the pieces fall apart, they make a sound.
You just have to listen closely.
This gets even trickier. Let me go back to my ‘stark’ opening. If you have never truly experienced stark, it is difficult to see this kind of starkness.
You may get a sense of ‘something wrong’, but far too often we skate along the superficial surface of ‘something wrong’ assuming lack of depth or “not any starker than we have ever seen” and … well … we miss the true starkness.
What may sound like the rustle of some dead leaves on the ground may actually be the sound of some starkness we cannot even imagine.
The recognition of the true sound demands you take an interest in what is happening in the people’s lives around you. I am not suggesting empathy or compassion, just interest. By the way, what differentiates humans from other species isn’t opposable thumbs or the size of our brains, but rather compassion and an interest in humans – interest as in doing better, being better and just having a better life <and helping people be better if they are not>.
While, of course, we want it to be better for ourselves we don’t want it to suck for others. And we certainly don’t want anyone to have such a stark existence that their Life retains no color or, worse, no hope.
The difficulty in fulfilling this inner innate characteristic of ‘interest in others’ is the outer irate characteristic of Life. The outer is always angrily demanding you to focus on it and not the other humans occupying Life. This may not be selfishness, but it is often more self interest in a zero sum game world <where you bolt on a belief everyone is accountable for themselves and how they think>.
I am not suggesting running around listening to everyone’s whispers looking to save everyone.
I would suggest that the two quotes I used reminded me that saving a human, even just one, can sometimes be enough.
Just listen closely. The world can be really, really, noisy and falling apart can be really, really, quiet.
Humans can fall to pieces so quietly. And no human, even someone we really do not like much, deserves to have such a stark existence that, well, they can only stare blankly at their Life falling apart.