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A Piece of Advice
Life is busy. Love is hard. Sometimes it is easier to flow with the stream, to duck your head, to live within the limits of an electric fence. So pull out your cell phone. Boot up your computer. Build up pulsing walls of wires and cold-eyed data. It will keep out new ideas, emotions, and that innate fear that is downloaded in every human heart: the terror of the white page, of an unfilled space, of empty possibility.
Don’t try to fill it.
You will only empty yourself in the effort. In emptying your heart and mind, you will let it be filled anew with alien thoughts and foreign ideas: frightening things.
So plug those earbuds in. Silence is terror. Turn on the flickering screen of hollow voices. Achieve normalcy.
Above all, never try to fill the emptiness by yourself. Rely on gadgets. That’s what they are here for. No one should be expected to reach inside himself and grope around, feeling past his heart and throbbing, wet organs to find something meaningful. You will only be disappointed when you come back with nothing but bloody fingers. Hide them. Shove your dripping hand into your pocket and smile and pretend that everything is normal. What happens in the darkness, stays in the darkness. No one should know what you dared to try. No one should know of your shameful quest for something real.
Turn up the volume on your music. Pretend that rhythm, drums, and the cadence of an auto-tuned voice can sooth the lack of pain in your chest. Because maybe, quietly, you would rather hurt than feel this dull ache of nothingness.
Let your eyes glaze over with the hard shapes of texted words, the glare of pixel screens, the dagger-stab of ringing phones. Let each day fit into the mold of yesterday, so that your week can fit together like a package of produce; sterile, wrapped in plastic, identical.
Don’t let your heart break.
Squeeze it into an unbreakable cell phone case. Paint it with lipstick smiles. Wrap barbed wire around it.
Do this for me. If you know what is good for you, keep that heart close and safe. Hold an umbrella over it to protect it from poetry. Starve it into a supermodel toothpick, lest it become addicted to the delicious words of stories. Slather it with sunscreen so that the strength of a smile cannot ever scorch it. Hearts are precious things, not to be trifled with. If you should break it, you will only find it more likely to be broken again. You can’t call up the maintenance line and ask for a new model, because the guarantee on the current one hasn’t run out yet.
There is no guarantee. That is what is so terrifying. That is why you must protect your heart with all the defenses you can find.
More than anything, do not make this mistake.
Do not try to fill the emptiness with words. One taste of the ambrosial sweetness of cascading words, sentences that tumble over each other like a waterfall of diamond wine, and you will never been free. The emptiness demands more and more. It begs to be tattooed with feathered dreams and it refuses to be sated.
It is hard enough to live one life, without being dragged through the lives of hundreds.
Isn’t one heart enough? Does anyone want to be entrusted with a thousand hearts, each one breaking and striving to heal with the delicacy of butterfly wings?
Isn’t it hard enough to try to change yourself, without trying to change the world? No. Stop. That’s a job for someone else, someone more experienced. Better yet, it isn’t a job for anyone. Changing anything – especially the world, especially yourself – is dangerous. You might do it right, but chances are, you’ll make it worse. It isn’t worth the risk. Embrace mediocrity. It’s where you belong. It’s where everyone belongs.
And that, my friend, is the reason that you should never open the cover of a book. Never pick up a pencil. Never gaze at that empty page.
And, never ever try to fill it.