Humanity is the same over and over
Without love what does humanness mean?
“What if the meaning of life on earth is not eternal progress toward some unspecified goal—the engineering and production of more and more powerful technologies, the development of more and more complex and abstruse cultural forms? What if these things just rise and recede naturally, like tides, while the meaning of life remains the same always—just to live and be with other people?”
Beautiful World, Where Are You, Sally Rooney
Sometimes within the very sensitive ache in my heart, I find myself getting caught up in things that I think too hard about like the ending of the movie Interstellar or like, the fear of loneliness. I find most often that the extent of all of my worrying and most of my saddest thoughts has to do with community.
A lot of this emotion is more of a reflection than a taste for a philosophical thought I find I have. A lot of my thoughts feel almost too niche to put into words that other people understand, many people say I feel things so intensely that my sentience couldn’t even put it into understandable words for them. I think most of all the world in which I live in and the people I see every single day, confiding and finding solace in, makes me weep. Oh, grief, I weep so much. Like branches of a willow tree. I’m a Southerner, I think hospitality runs in my blood and I find it so incredible a lot of the time how we just sit and talk. Always talking, never saying ‘goodbye’ in a firm enough voice to be able to make a sharp enough turn to the front door.
I find that there is so much human in me I don’t know how to cope with it all.
Some consider me a socialist, in any sense of the word, if that means anything, and for a little background context I work in a restaurant setting. A diner-esque setting with little green and blue cups of black coffee, with steam echoing throughout the entire restaurant. I smell all of the grease and bacon and eggs from eight in the morning all the way until eleven. Community is something I see every single day.
The morality of restaurants is highly debated but, for me, and the kind of area I live in I can say that the bond the folks in my diner have made with one another, with me, the cooks and even the people outside on the benches is something that has been dragged out since birth. I find intense amounts of comfort in the type of people that come in and out of those doors.
With my community having a very high elderly population means that most everyone is retired, which means most everyone worked together or grew up together, and some of them have never left the state, the town, some of have never left this little joint at all. On busy days people pile into booths and move tables together, families come and go and some stick around to talk to another family they see only every other weekend. Some stay and talk to neighbors, others take their family in from out of the state or country to come here and experience a slice of their life, share a part of their daily life they want someone so close to them to get a bite of.
I think the idea of a “regular” is incredibly hilarious, and it’s admirable that they all seem to make their way into the daily experience of literally any restaurant ever.
There are groups of old, retired men who come in daily to eat with their buddies. Seriously, I have seen how intricately detailed their conversations go, from humor to physical reactions. I’ve seen stories and inside jokes and Why are you changing your order? all the way to I’ll pay, you paid last week.
Community is one of, if not the most important thing for all of us.
My personal anecdote aside, maybe I just wanted to pull at your heartstrings, or my own. Maybe I just needed to try to put into words something so incredibly simple it blows my mind. I contain multitudes, and all that.
Which, even though that line has been dragged out to death, it is true. I do. I am large, as much as I hate to admit it. My largeness, however you interpret it, means something different to anyone who has a brain and comes across the line. So many different little feelings inside of the tiny universes we call bodies that everything has fifty different interpretations.
I look into how much real, genuine emotion can fit into one little body and think about how impossible it feels to me that everyone doesn’t just cry all the time. Seriously. I do it all the time. You look at how much everyone can and can’t handle and wonder how everyone doesn’t get sick of you crying all the time. I think I can’t. Nobody can, not really. You can try, sure, but the human experience is about having the tide swept over your heart be so heavy that you can feel it everywhere.
Everyone appreciates the sensitivity, even if you don’t. There is so much power in being able to look inside your chest and figure out what exactly you are feeling, and then feeling it to the highest extent.
I think this is rambling now.
I saw a video on TikTok today (go ahead, point, laugh) about this man in ancient, ancient times. Like, before homosapien times. Obviously there were many different remains from these peoples found, but what stuck out to me the most was this skull. According to the Smithsonian Institution’s Human Origins program, his teeth had fallen out, and he had suffered from old age and some weaknesses due to those factors, but he stayed alive and was able to persist because the people in his community helped him.
I also read from that same source that the earliest use of hearths, or campfires, were found in the spaces that the homo erectus roamed, and was most often used to cook and share food. Which, duh, but it makes me feel a little emotional thinking about how human remains and those who came before us had others on their mind before themselves, even just a little bit. They were also used as grounds to socialize and gather for warmth.
I think part of my tenderheartedness toward this is the fact that humans long ago weren’t that different from humans now.
The idea that there is a certain hold for each other, for a need for closeness and a vulnerability inside of us, tied into our DNA, makes the world a tiny bit more bearable.
All things considered it could all be very stupid but I think it’s interesting the things we invent when we are scared, upset, bored, etcetera. I love boredom, I love how it’s such a uniquely human feeling, and the way humans react to it.
The absolute mundane is what keeps us going I mean, look at games passed down from century to century. Look at ancient legends, the art of storytelling. The passing of details from mouth to mouth. Even the invention of things like plays and books, stories told on the first televisions and things like radio theater. Does anyone remember that one radio-play about aliens taking over the world? And how it caused such massive panic?
How it is in our nature to look at other people and entertain them, to erase their boredom. To take two wrongs and make it a right. The human instinct we have to do things in pairs. Working on things like gardens, using our hands to write, to bake, we team up to do things like inventing and learning. At the end of my junior year my history teacher gifted me a necklace. I find it has so much importance to me because it was hand-crafted by a local artisan. The work put into it and the thought from the gift itself makes it one of the most important things I own.
All things considered it could all be very stupid but I think it’s interesting the things we invent when we are scared, upset, bored, etcetera. I love boredom. I love how it’s such a uniquely human feeling, and the way humans react to it.
I believe with everything in me that I am made for other people the same way everyone else believes we are made for them specifically. Not in a selfish was necessarily, but I guess it could be seen that way. I think what I mean is that the human experience is so distinctly tied to the way you behave for other people and how they behave around you. The connection you make with any stranger, friend, lover, and more is the most important one you will ever make until the next one. Other people take up all of our time and space.
I’ve never been an individualist. Hell, even a nihilist. It just isn’t right, all that loneliness. Why must you isolate your mind in order to achieve what you want? You need other people. You need the support system. The pillars of your mind are made up of the validation and love others give you and it isn’t a bad thing. it’s a very good one, and a strong one, too.
It’s important to be surrounded by people. Community cradles the mind and strengthens your loose heartstrings. It took me a while to realize that, so by no means am I saying I’m exempt from this, just something that’s been on my mind lately. You need helping hands. all that weight, metaphorical or like, real, physical weight, gets so heavy. You hurt. You’ll begin to lose grip on the ship you built from scratch and when it finally sinks, who is going to pull you up?
All of those tender feelings, the sinking held so closely to your heart, the anchor is in those around you. It is in every memory made with those no longer surrounding you, and the places you have went. I cry every time I enter a restaurant where my old friends and I used to eat. Reminiscing on having soda pour out of my nose. Where my bill came up too large and my friend’s gift card couldn’t pay for it so the waitress just gave us free drinks. I feel my body sting a little when I go on the drives through neighborhoods we used to pass through to waste time. On the hikes walked.
New memories will always be made, and the old ones will probably always stay. And if they don’t stay, they will linger. You are constantly being built anew by everyone you meet.
I love the melancholy of the human experience. Existence is pain and yet I am growing a more firmer tenderness from all of it. But isn’t a bad thing to be angry either. You know? I’ve always felt it to be a little stupid whenever someone tried to talk another person down from their anger because if we can feel the sad feelings, why can’t we feel the mad ones too?
The way we react to these situations varies but it always goes back to everyone else. Talk it out, talk to them about it, confide in someone you know, you trust, be vulnerable, open up. Vulnerability is the most important thing a person can own. When I’m upset I cry, as does most, I also keep on an item of clothing that has meaning to me. I used to never talk, but now I do. I love to sit with the people I feel safe with. Safety in numbers and all that. Sometimes it really is just enough to feel other people around you. Back to the campfire.
I’m family inclined, sure, but aren’t we all? Aren’t we all reaching for that family, whether it is biological or written with all of the broken bones in one’s body? For the pieces in other people we carry with us? Don’t we all want to carry pieces with us?
The human experience is a lot of things, complicated being one of them. So very insanely complex. There aren’t enough words in the English language to explain in the amount of excruciating detail that I want to explain it in about how much the presence of others is a form of suffocating I crave every single day. I love the radiance we bounce off of each other. I love you.