We All Meet as Blank Pages to Be Filled

And everyone starts off as a closed book.

Jillian Spiridon

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Friends. Acquaintances. Strangers who catch our gazes right before we step off the train. We live in a world constantly in flux as we pass by dozens of people each day, and we never know if the person we just exchanged smiles with would have become someone important to us — if only, if only.

I can still remember individuals who made me give pause in a chaotic day. There’s the cashier I kept glancing at on one tumultuous grocery store outing while I pushed my mom around in a wheelchair. There’s the young resident doctor whose name I forget but who advised we wait to tell my mother her leg was amputated after an infection that spread like wildfire. There’s the retail worker I stopped to chat with while I was going through the haze of a mental breakdown.

There are more. I could probably tick them off my fingers one by one as I wade back through memories I would likely be better off forgetting. Yet these are lives I grazed, ones I glimpsed in moments while my own existence seemed to be fraying, and each one comes with a face and an imprint like fingerprints on my psyche.

I stood in a library just a few days back after someone in the elevator asked me about my T-shirt, proceeded to chat with me about one of my favorite movies, and left me behind as easily as footsteps into a separate bubble that would never meet mine again. The library had only four floors — an easily surmountable number — but I didn’t try to “stumble across” the person again. That book of possibility shut right then. I moved on, just like I had in years and moments past.

The experience — one I added to a stack in the file cabinet of my brain — left me with this overwhelmingly sad feeling. What do I have to do to stay in someone’s life rather than being a passing ghost? Being the one people leave has become a status quo of a kind for me. If someone persists in being a presence in my life, he/she is almost an anomaly now. I try not to linger on it, but overthinking is my enemy here.

What’s wrong with me? my brain asks.

Shh, shh, goes my sense of reasoning. It’s just a part of life.

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