I was walking back to my car, brushing against people in the narrow passage. No one hardly glanced my way but that was fine.
I wasn’t being very mindful of anyone either. The shoulders that waded through, the voices which reached my ear, were distant, a little like the background hum of a TV in the other room. I don’t know where I was with my thoughts, maybe already home going through the steps I would take as soon as I closed the door behind me. Maybe making a mental list of all the things I had forgotten to do, chiding myself for it. But I wasn’t too angry, I should have known, I told my small angry voice at the back of my mind, that if I didn’t write it down I would forget. Bodies pressed against mine. A baby squealed. A cane tapped. I looked up to three men walking in front of me. On the back of one’s jacket, two emblazoned words. And the world suddenly came back in sharp focus.
The people milling about, they had faces, particular features, and their voices rushed back clear as day. Yes ma but I won’t make it in time for dinner… Quel coglione sai che m’ha detto? … Hello Sir! A table for two? So many people, leading lives so different and yet so similar. I felt something, something akin to familiarity. If I only reached out, I would be able to touch it, this tangible link that connected us all. That wove this way and that like an errant thread. Poets and authors called it love, this collective surge of fondness for people you don’t know but feel connected to. I wouldn’t say I loved those people sharing the passage then. But it was like someone had pulled the covers off and revealed us for what we were. Fragile, small and desperately in need of each other. Yet there we were, passing by each other, mindless and absorbed in our own things, absorbed perhaps in our own complicated little lives.
We are all a wonderful mess, aren’t we? Nothing is simple, very few things come easy and yet we trudge on, we navigate through it because it is our own mess. We spend our lives trying to untangle knots, only to tie up others instead. I guess it’s our way of making the tightrope of life more secure. So we can strike the right balance to make it to the other side. And when we fall, we get back up. We tie another knot or we loosen one. And when our tightropes meet, we walk together and when they don’t, we’ll make our way alone across this labyrinth. We move forward because it’s the only way we know, it is the only way there is. Threading carefully, recklessly, feet dragging, bouncing, flying across tightropes, choosing ways, burning others. It’s a wonderful mess. This strength we possess to keep on going despite the dark, the terrible and the corrupt. It is a thing of beauty.
Beautiful chaos, the words on the jacket said. They seemed to shine a little in the night. Then, the men turned a corner and the words disappeared.
I reached my car. The air was cold, fresh against my face. Behind me, the world carried on as it always had. As it always will. A beautiful chaos, I thought. That’s exactly what we are.