I have never feared change because I always viewed change as one of the few certainties in life. After all, I cannot fear a fundamental force of the universe the same way I could fear worldly fears centralized in respect to myself such as not living up to my potential or never truly understanding my truths. Without change, in my mind, the act of living would equate to a series of predictable cycles, not that there is anything inherently distasteful about living within the confines of repetition. But, to me, living without a constant embrace for the change that follows represents an act of injustice to the deterministic sequence of the universe.
The nature of change, however, necessitates that the act of changing pushes us further from our original nature, like original sin. Whatever the environmental circumstances or spontaneous insight that led to a desire for change, the new state of being can only reflect upon older drafts with an understanding of the chain of events that will constantly create newer revisions in internal and external manifestations of existence. The sequence cannot be understood until retrospectively constructed in adherence to previous conceptions of identity. Of course, until death recycles all memory of previous drafts back into the collective unconscious.
Cognizant of the inevitability of change, I, for a time, believed that my realization would allow me to live without the fear of the future. I had faith in myself that I would live true to my values regardless of the environmental circumstances that would affect my understanding of myself. Whatever changes I had made in my personal value — I convinced myself that any changes to my fundamental philosophies in life had been the result of me crafting a more well-rounded understanding of the world. I convinced myself that all of my experiences, no matter how difficult have shaped my future in unnoticeable ways, and I convinced myself that my experiences of suffering have been redeemed through its infinite causality.
Armed with an unfounded confidence in redeeming my experiences through changes in my convictions, I approached with the world without understanding the intangible danger of the continuance of living without intention. Because, while I can passively quantify my change through various interactions that I have had over the past two decades, I cannot observe my change through means that would allow me to evaluate whether the change I am making falls within the same values that I set out with. For every experience I have and will have experienced, the thought never occurred to me that some experiences pull me from the same grounds of existence I believe to be the most existent.
I thought that, fundamentally, I would remain the same person. I believed the part of my existence that cannot be quantified into “personality” or “identity” remained a part of my being immune to circumstance. The change I had conceptualized had been localized to the manifestations of my personality but not encompassing the core values that had been a foundation for the development of my tertiary values. The understanding that I change against my nature never even crossed my mind. With each continued experience point in my timeline, I further gravitate towards a universal conformity against the original insight that I had been born with. With each continued second, I fall closer towards equilibrium.
I fear the indifference that was alluded in Call Me By Your Name.
We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of 30 and have less to offer each time we start with someone new.
— André Aciman
It seems, to me, that I no longer have the ability to experience the vulnerability that had been a defining feature of my existence even a few months ago. Because, within my first two years of college, I had experience countless firsts that have occupied a vast portion of the formative experiences that shape how I conceptualize the world. It seems that I have very few experiences left to change the subjective truths I have come to realize. I previously had an urge to fill my life with as many new experiences as possible, and while I am still open to new experiences, it seems that I no longer have the same thirsting drive to gorge my life with as many “meaningful” experiences as possible. Such spaces have already been occupied.
Instead, I am left with a state of discontented discontentment.
I conceptualize the disappearance of my ability to forge new connections similar to a new piece of tape becoming a used piece of tape. When I had been a new piece of tape freshly cut from the roll of tape (i.e. when I had first come to college), I had so many spaces that had been unused, so many parts of my life that had been unexplored. I could stick onto someone else and share experiences with them while allowing them to ingrain themselves within my identity. But, when their flame leaves my immediate vicinity, as they do, they still leave their presence on the piece of tape that is the culmination of possible experiences of my existence. Although I am no longer sticking to them, they have permanently inhabited a part of my identity.
Whenever a space in tape becomes used, it could still stick — but never quite as well as before. The more objects a piece of tape sticks to, the more tenuous each subsequent stick becomes. The stronger the connection, the stronger the memory, the stronger the aftershock. Likewise, the more meaningful connections I forge in my life, the more insignificant they become with every additional connection. There exists only so many new experiences to be shared between individuals. Once those experiences are shared, they cannot be shared again with the same intensity. And after a while, with enough sticks, individuals become a used piece of tape, unable to stick to make any further connections. The glue that had been so unused and untouched has now been contaminated by the countless experiences of the past.
I wonder if I have become a used piece of tape. It seems so long ago when I approached novel friendships with wide eyes and a fervent desire to understand as deeply as possible. It seems so long ago when I could genuinely approach new friendships without hesitation. Of course, I would never shy away from potential friendships that would continue to fundamentally shape my perspective on the world, but it seems that I no longer approach with the same excitement as I have even a mere year ago. Or, perhaps I am lying to myself, and I am unable to create new friendships anymore. I have shared a few meaningful moments with a few meaningful people. They left. And now, here I am, continuing the same cycle of creation and destruction.
How many times could a piece of tape stick to an object before it becomes completely unable to stick to any more objects? Perhaps two? Or three? If so, I have already reached the threshold, assuming that my life follows the same patterns as a piece of tape. It would be quiet poetic, really. It only takes a couple of heartbreaks to change an otherwise idealistic view of love to a sinister and incendiary interpretation of the same ideas. A couple of heartbreaks would be appropriate given my age. I cannot, however, imagine how subsequent heartbreaks would do to my already cynical ideas. Perhaps I would learn to be more grateful. Perhaps I would come closer to a realization about the purest form of love, at least in context to the experiences I have been given. I would hope so.
Because I draw blurred lines in my definition of friends, as many people do nowadays, I treat the prospect of making friendships the same I would treat the prospect of entering a relationship. Including all ambiguous interactions that fall somewhere in between. The excitement that I once felt in within the beginning stages no longer defines my interactions. The uncertainty is no longer present. While I once existed in a state of confusion regarding every facet of expression, I no longer exist in the same state of confusion. I have, at this juncture of my life, more-or-less developed a general understanding of what I value in individuals. In correlation, I have developed an expansive list of superficial personality traits that qualify as red flags. As a personality, I have become less flexible.
I have met individuals who value similar parts of existence. Individuals, meaning that I will never feel a truly unique connection with someone ever again in my life. Individuals, only in the form of disassociated and coincidental identities. Those moments during the earlier phases in my life when I genuinely believed that I have met someone who understood me in a way that I wanted to be understood will never happen again. That formative moment in the first semester of college where I met someone equally as sad as I no longer seems like a special moment; there exist plenty of sad individuals in the world, and I have started and ended friendships with a number of them. I have developed a realistic understanding of my friendships, informed through my past experiences, and the apathetic reality frightens me.
I am changing evermore into a piece of tape. I approach new friendships and relationships with reticence, similar to how I used to approach potential romantic partners during the phase of seduction. I no longer relish in the uncertainty; formerly, it had been a defining feature of excitement that drove me to live my life in accordance to the value of consummation, but now, uncertainty just represents another debilitating force in the universe that compels me to act less lively than I had been previously. Every year that passes becomes exponentially more difficult to maintain relationships because every year that passes results in the accumulation of more fallen relationships. It is a fundamental fact of aging that I cannot change.
I wonder if I seek out certain individuals for my life in an attempt to establish the grounding of creating emotional pain when I could no longer create experiences of emotional pain without considerable emotional investment. Perhaps I have sublimated my inability to maintain relationships in the form of destructive beauty. The very nature of the strength of friendship depends on emotional investment, as well as a series of other factors. Without history shared between two individuals, all there could be is personality compatibility, and alignments in personality could never exist on the same degree of rarity as alignments in personal experience. It would seem that the act of creating friendships on a significant level is dependent on creating shared experiences.
Yet, it seems that I have reached a point in my life where I have become relatively good at creating friendships through accelerating shared personal experience. I have reached a relative maximum where, from a variety of experimentation in the past, I have identified which experiences would create the most amount of mutual intimacy in the shortest amount of time. I have learned to identify which individuals I am most compatible with on an existential level, and I have learned to engage with these individuals to find points of conversation that align the most compatible points of our personalities in the shortest amount of time. Unlike Tinder, whose structure encourages reducing standards for quantity, I have zeroed in on exactly which personal values I find compatible. And the cycle goes.
I wonder if I still have the capacity to feel the vulnerability that follows the fallout from a friendship. I wonder if there is any merit in pursuing any more friendships now that I have entered a state of existence where I no longer could feel the effects of creating intimacy anymore. I wonder if I should continue defining my life through the countless relationships that I have cultivated before coming to its violent conclusion. Such is the nature of the choice to continue existing. Especially in those moments of profound aloneness with the singular voice in my head, I continue to justify my will to live. To me, it is a simple choice: I either continue to accept that true love is violent, or I choose to die. The universe can be incredibly simple in that respect.
Such is the beauty of life. Such is the cruelty of life. Or, on second thought, perhaps the two are one and the same.