I've spent my whole life telling myself stories about myself and others, about the experiences I've had. And I've not composed these stories alone; others, too, have pitched in, telling me stories on my behalf, about myself and others, about the experiences they've had and that I've had, and the ones we've shared. It never occurred to me that those stories might be fiction, that they might just be words sprinkled over an otherwise infinite and insurmountable Word.
The music plays in my ears, and I like it, but others don't—it is music, past and beyond my senses and thoughts about it. The more I think of it, the more immersed in my own mental fiction I become, losing the reality of the music for the pale simulacrum I've made from papier-mâché thoughts that would have lasted but a moment had I just let them go.
The chair beneath me has a history, but I don't know much of it. In some ways it feels unfamiliar, foreign even, perhaps egregiously alien at times—yet it is a chair that feels familiar to someone else. Though they are not my memories, not my history, they are the memories and history of another; yet the chair remains what it is, even were we to step out of the scene. The chair is something all its own, and I tease myself with the idea that it somehow remembers something for me or for another, yet it does not. Were I to disappear, or were the one to whom that chair's history belongs to disappear, we would take those memories with us. The chair would tell strangers no tales; it would be irremediably what it is.
The room around me is new, the property of another, as leasing entails. I've never been here before, there are no memories of mine, and at one moment it felt frighteningly uninviting. Yet it is what it is. The time has changed, as have my thoughts about it, yet the room itself remains the same; no matter what objects I've placed herein, what I may have removed from its precincts, the room remains precisely what it has always been. Only my own thoughts have changed, my own feelings. The stories I've told myself about the room, about the chair, about everything else. Everyone else. About myself.
I'm thinking now of what lies beneath all that lacquer, what stands behind the symbols I've constructed, what reality might I be daydreaming through. And yet I expect noise to replace noise, story to replace story—reality carries no story. Reality is silence. It is not a deadly silence, some dark something—another thought, a vague one at that—rather it is the holy silence of nothing at all. It is the silence that would exist were I not present, the silence that persists when I cease attempting to speak over it. The people are there, the experiences still come, I'm still alive, present and aware—yet no longer telling stories. No longer hiding from reality, no longer creating symbols and tricking myself into thinking it's the real thing.
The quiet truth is this, and simply this, that nothing means anything, not inherently. We decide the meaning of an event, the image we hold of another, and the image we hold of ourselves—that elusive and subtle ego—and therein lies the greatest opportunity and the most dangerous of follies. The stories will serve us, but not if we don't realize they are fiction; fiction serves, but not if someone cannot escape it once the final chapter is closed. When the stories are revealed as just that, symbols as merely signifiers of something beyond, words sprinkled over the Word, then we begin to see reality for what it is, others for who they are, we ourselves for who we are.
And then the stories end. And eternity continues to unfold.