What is Possible and What Matters

I don’t believe you. It all comes down to this, really.

I just don’t believe you. It doesn’t mean you’re lying. You might actually believe what you’re saying, but you haven’t the slightest ability to ask yourself if maybe you’re wrong. Whether or not you’re right, that’s wrong, and really, the whole of my life has been attempting to reorient, after we’ve found out you’ve been wrong, very wrong, for a very long time. Still, you prattle on.

I just don’t believe you.

I don’t believe the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice. I don’t believe there’s a fundamental difference between a belief in exceptionalism or a belief in supremacy. Intended difference? Maybe. Actual difference, not really. The actual difference is justification, that’s all.

I don’t believe there is some great shared project, because even if we look at those times we’re told there was some shared project, it wasn’t real. It was an illusion. It was a puppet show, a shadow opera.

That’s what we are, right? The progeny of a shadow opera, stranded between something like illusion and corporeality, and utterly convinced we are both simultaneously, living in constant terror of being either or neither.

It’s just all gone. I don’t have anymore to hold onto. I’m an empty vessel, certainly, but not desperate to be made full again. Desperate instead for no more. No more carrying any of it, holding it, saving it. Just no more of any of it. No more of these grand delusions. No more battered humility.

I don’t even have the energy to be angry anymore. It’s not even resignation. I don’t even know what to call it. Disappointment? The nihilism hiding behind the optimism every idealist is trying to evade? It’s not anger, and though some of it is sadness, it’s less sadness than it is this other thing.

Nothing that is possible matters, and nothing that matters is possible.

That is the thing in American life I’ve been running from, for as long as I can remember. Seeing it plainly, trying to identify it accurately, always garnering a blank, black eyed, dead stare and off handed, common wisdom platitudes.

This is the “why” of it. The question has been lingering for years. Now, I see it so clearly. Why the kind of political insurgency that though they’re utterly different in their approach and focus, the two major political parties have produced fundamentally disruptive figureheads? Because they tell people something about them matters. Trump says, “You’re white and you have dedicated yourself to embodying the caricature of whiteness, and that matters. Sanders says, “You’re struggling, despite having done everything you possibly could to not have to continue to struggle and suffer, and that matters.” Why white supremacy? Because dominion and racial identity matter. Why antifa? Because preventing genocide matters.

It’s why the level of burnout is so high in what we’re led to believe are some of the most important profession. Most people go into teaching because they want to make a difference. They want to do something that matters. What thousands of teachers are seeing every day are millions of children who are the living really that nothing that matters is possible. Possibility has been so completely, expertly removed from their existences, it’s not a matter of giving it back to them somehow, it’s a matter of trying to establish the entire foundation on which the understanding of the possibility of possibility must be built. It isn’t by mistake that we pay the teachers who are in closest proximity to this are paid the least. It isn’t magic that the burnout rate is astronomical either.

Nurses, and many of the other people who go into health care have this belief as well. They yearn to make a difference, and what they get is a never ending stream of patients for whom their professional training and experience very clearly indicates earlier intervention or prevention would have made all the difference. They get the brunt of the brokenness freshly cleaved in the family member who has just had to deliberate the care for their loved one in contrast to their own well being in the future. Day in, day out, for many people who went into health care to care for their fellow human beings, the confrontation with how little their own effort matters in contrast to how little their patients well being has ever matter will become too much relatively quickly.

They are people who are everyday facing the underlying reality of American life, with no distance to save them, no illusions to sooth them. Just the unvarnished reality. Nothing that is possible matters, and nothing that matters is possible.

I’ve been desperately attempting to somehow make it not true, since one day a long time ago when I came face to face with the convergence of the random and the results of being able to make anything matter. It was so very clear to me that life isn’t promised, and it can be gone, so quickly, without anything like what we would call “reason.” It’s not that A reason doesn’t exist. The reason it exists matters. The results, not so much. I understand now, to honestly, dedicatedly interrogate the violence in masculinity is something that would matter, and this is why it is not possible. It’s not just possible, it’s probable to a point of guarantee this will continue to result in long chains of lives just destroyed and irrevocably damaged, and that doesn’t matter.

Nothing that is possible matters, and nothing that matters is possible.

Tired, weary human. Excavating the geography between trauma, masculinity, mental health, and their social expressions. Anti-racist, anti-sexist. Learning.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store