Sunday, January 14, 2007

No Answer

There is drama all around us.
I am writing this, mere minutes after it happened.
I am sitting here at Starbucks, with my laptop open in front of me. It had just booted up, and I had just taken my first sip of my first Sunday coffee. I'm at the bar-like counter, at the plate-glass window, facing a sidewalk full of pedestrians.
In fact, here is a picture of the very exact spot.

The street is Rideau Street.
A blue van pulls up rather quickly, zipping into the bus-lane to offload passengers. “Blue-Line Taxi” says the sign on top.
The rolling side door opens and a young woman, about 20 years of age, jumps out. She steps onto the sidewalk and walks a few feet, and as she does this, I notice that there is still someone else in the back of the van [it had tinted windows] and that person reaches out and slams the door shut and says to the driver something like, “Go! GO!”
I saw some frantic hand waving from the backseat area.
The van then disobeys every rule of the road [as taxi-drivers do] and cranks the wheels to the left, cuts across three lanes, and takes off in the opposite direction from which it arrived.
At this same moment the woman who had gotten out turns around and flings her arms out, palms up, saying, “Whaaaat?”
Immediately she sets her handbag on a newspaper stand and takes out her cell phone, looking in the direction of the fleeing cab, and dialing. There is no answer.
No answer.
It is, to me, one of the most amazing things about the human body's emotional reaction time, how quickly tears can well up. Because I can already see them in this woman’s eyes, and she is about twenty feet away from me.
As the phone rings inside that cab.
And there is no answer.
With this agonizing [for me to see] look on her face, she snaps the phone shut and zips it into her handbag and turns, and walks away.
And I was already wondering, like even before any of this had happened, I was wondering today, the following question:
“Why do human relationships have to be so difficult? So precarious? So precariously difficult?”

There are a few personal reasons I was already thinking this, but it helps that I also just finished reading a supremely excellent philosophic novel that raises this exact question… and provides really…. → no answer.
The novel is Alain de Botton’s On Love. [a.k.a. Essays In Love]. I must write something about this book, it was so damn good.
But heartbreaking. Good, but heartbreakingly so. Like human relationships, I guess? The best ones having the most potential to hurt, at some point?
I am just about to begin, as soon as I refill this coffee here, another de Botton book, called The Consolations of Philosophy. The table of contents shows that one chapter is called A Broken Heart, so perhaps the author will answer the answerless question in that chapter. But I am not going to hold my breath.
Because love is complex. There is nothing as complex.
To the question, there is no answer.
Unless love itself is the answer.

**********

4 comments:

Jordan said...

Wow. I'm dying to know what was behind all that... Why didn't you find out?! **laugh**

Stefanie said...

Wow, you manage to see the most ineteresting scenes Cip. I've got Botton's On Love but haven't read it yet. I also have The Consolation of Philosophy. I know I will like both but I don't want to read them as much as I want to read them. Because once I read them I will have read them and then will not be able to look forward to reading them. Sigh. Books are such complicated things.

cipriano said...

Stefanie, the de Botton stuff is really good, I think you will love it. But I know the exact phenomenon you are describing. Having the books. Wanting to read them. But also... wanting to want to read them.
Perhaps this is a bit of spin on that old maxim of C.S. Lewis's....
"Our best havings are wantings."

May said...

Wonderful quote.