When We Know Nothing

black ball point pen on white notebook

In moments when we don’t know what to say, what to write, how to respond–it is as if we know nothing. The world becomes a blank page. We reach out and the page tears as we try to find words that are  simply too small for our naked eyes or perhaps written in lemon ink. We forget about our decades of life and experience, and, in that moment we know nothing but the blank. This blank, this nothingness-of-knowing scares us right down to the marrow of who we are (who we think we are, who we know we are). A thick, blank sheet–of paper or fabric–is thrown over our heads. And we gasp, we twitch, we even perhaps throw ourselves out, like a character we are writing about who needs attention. We throw ourselves out when we don’t know. Don’t know the answer. Don’t know the next plot point. Don’t know how we got ourselves into this mess of words and ideas. Why didn’t we stick to a job that was more solid, something that would never have us thinking about how we know nothing? Why didn’t we think more before we said ‘yes?’ The blank makes us wonder. Why did we trust the people we did when, somehow, we knew all along? We knew all along they’d leave us blank. We knew all along. Then we become that blank.

And there is the blank page before us. Holding our wonder and our grief. Holding our disenchantment and mix of confusion and sadness. We know nothing. We think we’ll scribble on the page and at least get something done. If we think about those scribbles too long they seem like scars.

This blank page. This space in front of us that makes us feel like we know nothing. This blank page, this blank space is not a mirror that erases the past ten years. It is not the effect of distraction or our longings that have leaked over time. It is nonsense and pure, plain sense all at once. We can recede into nothing, and still, the page is there for us when we remember–when our words, our voice is called out–scribbled or cursived.

We can know nothing for a while. We all know nothing for a while.


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