Certain personal matters eat at our souls and rob us of rest. Misunderstandings so brutal and unfair that we need to explain ourselves, injustices that burn and demand redress, mean things, done by reflex, that chafe us until we cry out. What do we do, in a world that largely doesn’t give a rat’s buttock about any one of us? Sometimes we sit down and write an impossible letter, to set the record straight, even as we know there is no record and straight is the most relative of terms in the emotionally fraught world of homo sapiens.
We work on the letter imagining that our words will open a heart that’s closed to us, restore communication where it has been shut down, allow a whiff of mercy, insight or sanity into a room that’s been sealed off from those things. In our mind the simple facts, and a bit of history, expressed as clearly and non-judgmentally as we can, will work their magic, allowing the other person to shake off the fog they’ve been living in and step back into the light of Reason. An impossible letter.
The person you are writing to is not the ultimate recipient of the letter, perhaps. Writing this kind of letter allows you to put very difficult things into perspective. It helps you chart an intelligible path through the sometimes disorienting terra incognita that is our emotional world. It’s fair to say that we write these letters primarily to ourselves and to anyone else already sympathetic to what we have to say.
It seems impossible that people we love, who have loved us for many years, will metaphorically kill us for some transgression they feel we’ve committed. There is no forgiveness, no matter how consistent our efforts to make amends, only anger, and it extends indefinitely into the future, while everyone involved is still alive. How the fuck is that possible? Was this person always insane enough to kill the people they love the most just to “win” an eternal argument? Was our intimate friendship just the wishful dream of a foolish heart?
I will provide the set-up, a short version of the context that makes each letter seem necessary, and impossible. Then I will write the impossible letter, as I have done a few times in recent years. These letters get no response, because they can’t, since what they require is impossible. Impossible as the idea that one day the lights go out for every one of us and that’s that.
The idea of reconciliation is beautiful, a vision of heavenly justice, and the rareness of it makes it even more splendid. We don’t pursue the impossible out of perversion alone, we do it out of faith, love and an unquenchable, though often unrealizable, human drive for justice and reconciliation.
Context to follow for impossible letter number one: the genius.