There is one and only one question that has stayed with me from the moment I first heard it unanswered. Usually, once I figure out that the answer will never be mine, I forget about it; my natural curiosity reaches only so far. But this one has been bugging me for eternity and it seems like it will never stop.
The question is: what can change the nature of a man?
I think – I suppose: nothing.
But I’ve been struggling with this answer, really opposing it, for quite some time now. The question, my question, first grabbed my attention when as a sweet but rather silly twelve year old I played Planescape: Torment. By far the best game I have ever had the pleasure to play (over and over again as well) – or at least the smartest. It hid somewhere at the back of my mind together with my hasty and intuitive answer of nothing. But as I grew older it became a more pressing matter and from a vague thought this question arose to become a weird kind of mind superstar.
What can change the nature of a man? Why does it even matter? What do we consider our nature anyway? Who defines that? Can we, as the object in question, even properly perceive the phenomenon? I did lots of physics and lots of philosophy in my life, way more than a brain like mine could ever or should ever take, but at the end of the day I had to abandon science and logic, and go back to the beginning, that is: to intuition.
The reason I come back to this question today is that for the first time in all these years I now perceive it as more of a glimmer of hope than a horrid necessity. You see, I did lots of denying in my life. Pretending. Covering up. Lying even. And now that I am a bit older and a bit less silly (although I am counting on that one less than on my biological age) I would love to… kind of, you know, reverse the process.
I used to think that nothing can change the nature of a man – not even love, sacrifice, morality, war, death, betrayal, religion, nothing. That deep underneath there is something that makes us who we are and changing that is completely out of our hands. That scared me a lot, being who I am, as it probably scares a few of you as well from time to time. Call it DNA or an eternal soul, whichever one you chose it is pretty deterministic in my book.
But now, thinking about having my intrinsic nature that nothing can change, not even me, makes me weirdly happy. It gives me some sort of weird assurance that nothing is lost yet, that no matter how hard I screw up in my life there will always be that second chance because there is no way I can just lose… myself.
And for a brief moment of time a few months ago I felt as though I had.
So many of us – because it is not just a me-problem, this is the world we build for ourselves – live in fear of who we are. Regardless of the reasons we tend to hide from the world things we find improper – and it is us and just us who make that decision. No grounds to blame society, at the end of the day only we can tell ourselves to not be ourselves. It is our choice.
I used to write a lot; I would write about anything on about anything and just about anywhere. Writing – as I see it now – was always a part of my nature, one way or another. There is no me without words. There may be no you without painting or chemistry or horse riding or your family or even a little smile just after that first sip of coffee you take every morning. Me’s and you’s are constituted of big things and of small ones, and can be better or more vaguely defined and sometimes are tricky to find. I am not just writing, just as you may not be just Sudoku solving, but take a piece of a jigsaw out and that final picture is never quite right again.
At some point in my life I decided that writing is improper as a life choice for someone like me – don’t ask me why, I kind of still understand the logic behind all of that but my heart is way past the point of defending it. I was embarrassed of my intrinsic need to write. At first I decided to hide it from the world, but it was never enough, no matter how many steps I took to protect myself, I would go back and back and back again to all these words waiting for me. So I did it. I had to do it.
I took that piece of my puzzle out. I killed it and buried it where even I couldn’t find it anymore.
I must admit I was bloody good at murder – maybe I should consider it as a second profession. It was painful but then that pain went away and all it left behind was a sensation of everlasting emptiness. A bit of me was gone. I’d say that the Rubicon was crossed, but that would be just way too pompous for all that had happened was a little girl’s heart cracked in half.
And here I am, a grown up woman, part of the future of society, staring at the blank pages with grief, and regret, and sadness, hoping that an old question I once answered and re-answered again millions of times would help me solve all these problems I caused myself. That I can beg the Universe into letting me fix what I broke.
How does one do that? Did any of you manage to rebuild something lost? Entropy is always positive, they say, but then on the other hand I have never heard anyone talk about the relationship of entropy and a flickering human soul.