Elevator Pitches, The Red In Our Ledgers, The Chains We Forge In Life, And Kirk’s Pain
Nobody knows anybody, not really.
The impressions we have of the people in our lives, at essentially all levels of intimacy, are like the poster presentations we did in Middle School, like short-ride Elevator Pitches…
“Jamie’s like Steve Irwin meets Charles Bukowski meets Gomez Addams meets Anne Sullivan, but fat and bald and living in New Hampshire.”
I don’t necessarily think we’re hidden from everyone because we mean to hide, although that’s likely some of it. Human to human communication, via speech and facial expressions and gestures, is simply too limited, too clumsy, too time-consuming, and too potentially uncomfortable and embarrassing to facilitate my sharing the real me with the real you (except in very rare cases). My wife knows a lot of the hidden real estate that makes me me, as does my sister, as do a few friends… although I would posit that each of them know a different part than the others, like the fabled elephant being described by a troop of blind people.
The quote above resonated the first time I heard it, and every time since, because it’s so human, so nuanced, and so basic at the same time. We’ve all got negatives in our life-ledgers, formerly measured in red ink in accounting ledgers (as opposed to positives, which were tallied in black ink). We also all have, or at least I have, done violence to people and animals, bloodying ourselves and them in ways we wish we could undo.
We cannot wipe the ledger clean of any of the red once we’ve written it in. As Omar Khayyam said, “The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.”
I think about mistakes made, harsh words said, blows struck, choices made that cannot be unmade. Friendships sundered in anger. Small finned, furred, or feathered lives cut short to satisfy curiosity or competitive nature. Blows struck in anger or fear that cannot be reeled backward once landed.