On Loving Strangers
It is the sign of young love to be so foolish as to think you can be truly in love with a person who you have had only limited interaction with. The schoolhouse crush, the heedless rush of love, is a propensity we soon grow out of. It is the sign of adult love to realize that, even if two people spend every moment of every day together, share a bed at night, and traverse years in the tightest proximity, the vault of the mind is incapable of being opened in full.
Even after decades, there exists a space of blur between any two people. It is as if we only ever see each other through some diaphanous sheet, only ever hear each other in broken and muffled words, and only ever touch each other through the barrier of some invisible envelope. We are so often amazed by how much is communicated that we fail to recognize how little is. It is no wonder, for how are we to become cognizant of what is known to one and unknown to the other, unless we have proof from both ends — the very problem we cannot overcome.
Metacognition gives us the ultimate strength of mind. It is only by knowing what we know that we can attain real intelligence, but this also has an undersurface: to be ignorant of our ignorance is an infinite void of mind. We speak a word, and those ephemeral syllables transfer a world of understanding at the speed of sound. We rightly marvel at this prodigious feat. But what has been left omitted? Bah to light! Ignorance is the fastest thing in existence; it was there before any carrier arrived.
We communicate a particle from every mountain and a drop from every ocean, and we applaud ourselves for it. When we find ourselves with another, embosomed and comfortably lost in the cottony heaps of love, there seems to be a melding of two minds. Hardly a word is spoken that isn’t an unnecessary act of habit and only a token of a deeper, wordless communication that is occurring constantly and involuntarily. And yet, neither will ever be made privy to the full expanse of mental landscape locked away behind the eyes before them, nor will they ever be given some shaded map detailing just how much is left undiscovered.
I exist at the center of my world, and this is an unchanging fact of my being. It is the same for you, and though we work as unconsciously and unceasingly as nature itself to move ever closer to one another, every mind marks a pole on the mental plane, and though drawn to each other like magnetized bodies, we are kept apart by the same force that impels our attraction.
Martin Vidal is the author of The Ambition Handbook: A Guide for Ambitious Persons