Sunday, October 25, 2009
I walked past a ghost tonight. It is a ghost I see on an almost weekly basis. As usual it was the same outcome: they completely didn’t see me and made no acknowledgment of my existence. Any attempt to catch eye-contact or entice with a friendly smile proved futile. They are simply existing on another plane of existence which once ran through mine. They were once very much alive and responsive – they smiled and laughed called me by my name. But now they are merely a ghost.
It is virtually impossible to get to a certain age and not have a few ghosts: people who have, for one reason or another, through their fault or yours (or more likely, both), have decided to ignore you completely, as if they were unable to materialise any sort of contact. I myself have two or three (at least). They touch nothing directly in your life with their presence – they might in fact try with great effort to keep whatever presence they have away from you by crossing the street or waiting for the next bus – but merely by being there and being ghosts they succeed in filling your life with a palpable sense of emptiness.
‘What am I?’ you suddenly ask yourself. ‘What kind of monster is deserving of this?’
But of course you are not a monster, you are a human. You are so human, you are probably someone else’s ghost. You’ve crossed streets or pretended that the bus wasn’t yours – you’ve diverted your eyes at the right time, perhaps simply out of ease or perhaps out of spite. You’ve liked, then loved, then hated, and then not known what to think, so it is simply easier, and less scary, to not look. This is the recipe of the ghost. So much of our interaction with the world and the interaction done to us is fraudulent: we really aren’t suddenly transfixed by a certain cloud which requires us to move our gaze to a certain fixed spot, we really aren’t suddenly called “silently” on our mobiles and have to take upon an enthusiastic conversation with our mothers. But in doing these acts we do a disservice to our fellow human. We leave them thinking
‘What am I? What kind of monster is deserving of this?’
So I propose we all cease being ghosts to each other. We look at each other. We don’t have to smile (we may not like certain others), but we owe it to humanity to at least acknowledge each others existence, no matter how scary or confronting a prospect that might be. The harm we potentially do isn't worth the stress we potentially save ourselves from, selfishly, as if all others were on another plane of existence.