Friday, August 12, 2011
The verb, to unknow
List of some things I don’t know how to do:
Fly an airplane
Repair a car
Unknow dark somethings once I know them
It has taken me at least a month to write of this. The idea came from a tropically large bug, a singleton who shall remain nameless, seen and dealt with by my son - and not by me - in my room immediately before I planned to fall asleep. Of course I was no longer sleepy. Of course I left the television and the reading light on and imagined stealthy guerrillas from its bug clan invading my sanctuary and my peace. Two evenings later I was finally able to sleep with the light off, but now turn it on if I have to get up during the night. No barefoot surprises, thank you.
Once I knew it had been there, nothing was quite the same. It could have been a recluse, a hermit in some dim corner for weeks (though not likely) that only began to plague me once it revealed itself. Bob Seger wrote, “...wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.” Boy howdy.
Other unwelcome knowings have been imposed upon me over a lifetime. Some were too first-person to evade. Others were blurted for another’s unburdening. They change everything. That they existed sub rosa while I pirouetted through my days with innocent trust makes their revelations all the more shocking. And there is no going back.
Denial is, I suppose, the popular response to unmanageable information, pretending, playing ignorant. That lid won’t stay closed for long. There can never really be enough of any substance to keep truth fully hidden once it is glimpsed leering through the window. Our hearts no longer beat with the same familiar rhythm. We grow haunted, our notion of safety shattered. We dream of taking the secret and casting it into the flames, anything to be free of its curse.
Our best hope is forgetting, or a form of it that permits a dimming of impact. Spiritual teachers express the belief that what has passed may be surrendered, leave and gnaw on me no more. Many of our adaptive skills result from having to invent ways to keep moving forward when the first choice would be to sit, weeping, until we turned to dust, to grit, which the wind would take.
Dark knowings embezzle from our stores of sleep, of serenity, of trust. Some are thugs and thieves, smacking us around and running off with our valuables. We are left trying to put the pieces together, wondering who we can call. I need to report a crime.
All this from one anonymous bug, who thought, if bugs think, that it would make its way from this shadow to that, remain unobserved a bit longer, live to scurry another day. Instead it became my reminder of spaces we have to clear when the uninvited decide to visit, the processes we learn to keep from tipping over. If any of you composing, airplane-flying kung fu master mechanics can tell me how to make knowing less grief-filled, I believe I am ready to learn.