As my family gathers around the table my mother frets over the meal in the kitchen, making excuses for it why it doesn’t look like it came straight off of Jamie Oliver’s page. Chit chat leads the way into talks about the upcoming election, ongoing health concerns, and family history. Toes are stepped on and stories interrupted, whenever anything contentious, weighty or emotional is brought up my father is always quick to intervene, cutting into our honest exclamation to make a loud and confident claim about the stock market or the recent snowfall. And so we keep it light, light, bland and uninteresting. We keep it safe.
On the drive back my Aunt rattles off the season’s must-haves as her bad to the bone ringtone incessantly plays over the car radio–an apt demonstration of her efforts to bury evidence of her controlling and abusive partner. I sit in silence as she mumbles his name and ignores the perpetual ringing before eventually putting the phone on silent. I sit in silence, because that is what we do. We mumble over the real noise, the anxiety-causing noise, the emotional noise. We make facile, trite, and everyday sounds to hush the real explosions and squeals of life.
That is how we float through our lives, passively allowing events to happen without observing, noticing or feeling them. Without that reflection we are never forced to look around and realize the emptiness. Instead we watch life happen around us while moving our lips to the tune of the weather, or the sale on potatoes, or the taste of the chicken.
I don’t want to live like that. I want to live with intention. I want to live with openness. I want to feel everything. I want the uncomfortableness to moisten my palms and linger so that I can explore it, and move on from it.