There are days, much like today, when I close my eyes and listen to Sarah Kay’s voice in my head. Her words, soft and crisp, are sometimes the only true thing I can recall. On some days, they even sound like prayers. And they go:
Some men will want to learn what it feels like to curl themselves into a question mark around you. Admit they don’t have the answers they thought they would by now. Some men will want to hold you like the answer.
You are not the answer.
You are not the problem. You are not the poem, or the punchline, or the riddle, or the joke.
And, somehow, I feel better afterwards.
Some people forget that even hope has days where it curls into itself, resigned and tired. They forget that lighthouses sometimes get submerged by the sea. That fires flicker or die. That the best of us run dry, sit cross-legged in the middle of the worst drought of our lives, begging God for rain.
And if rain’s too much, we ask, then, for words. An ocean of them just to keep us afloat for one more day.
But, sometimes, even that doesn’t happen either.
I think that, for such a long time, people have placed their hearts on me. They have laid their emotional baggage on my lap because they are tired from the journey and I have loved every bit of it. I have loved being the stopover, the resthouse, the port of safety that exists before the grand adventure. But now, I am whittling from the pressure. Now, I have to whisper Sarah Kay’s words to myself almost all the time to remind myself that I am not the answer.
I am not the problem-solver or the peacemaker or the wise old sage. I am the 20-something-year-old who breaks, too. The 20-something-year-old who has feelings and fears and insecurities that beat against me, too, on some days.
I get off-centered and on those days, I am not the hero. On those days, I can’t be. I refuse to be. On those days, I want to run away from everything. To be immature. To break down quietly and let things fall apart. On the days that I am not strong, I need to be allowed to perch myself on the edge of desperation and resist the need – if only for a moment – to hope.
I cannot fix everything and the older I get, the more I realize that I shouldn’t have to. Sometimes we just have to let the chaos wrap itself around us. Sometimes we have to allow the lonely symphony of a heart breaking to just happen.
This is what it means to be human.
There are seasons where we are abandoned in deserts, throats parched from hopelessness, but still finding it in ourselves to pull out that last card from our backpockets: one of eager optimism — the belief that though everything else is terrible, this, too, shall pass. That even though it seems like a crazy thought to believe in, we’ll place our bets on it anyway. We’ll gamble everything for the idea that everything — mess, chaos, madness — will work out in the end.