The Sweet Nothings of Smiles and Strangers

The Sweet Nothings of Smiles and Strangers

Often I lay awake at night, attempting to reach a conclusion. I look up at my ceiling pondering where this next “train of thought” will station today as if it were my turn in some kind of board game. The turn ends, and all that I gain is the realization that I’m staring at my ceiling instead of literally doing anything else. In waiting for the next turn, I swiftly find something to fill my mind: jokes, media, mathematics, anything.
“What to do?” The question remains unanswered.
As unlikely as it may sound, I find comfort in the unknown. The more I learn, the more I crave like a never ending, gnawing hunger. I strive for knowledge like a predator hunting food. I’m restless; I feel intoxicated by the drive I get to lurk for it.
“It’s my turn again. Make it count!” I say to myself as this game continues.
Taking time to recollect what I learned that day attempting to once more reach a conclusion. Any luck? Nope. Though I seem to learn a lot in a single day, it is nothing compared to the massive mess inside my head attempting to make sense of it. As long and rigorous of a process it is, it is never boring. It is never boring to learn new things and just comprehend it all.
The more I learn, the more I comprehend, the more I realize that I know so little, and how long I have left to go. That is why I take comfort in the unknown, there is always something in the world you can learn. That process, let alone the concept, never ceases to amaze me.
Suppose we do run out of things to learn: we know “every fact” with no shadow of a doubt that we know all things true that hold nothing but truth. What then? What happens when the unknown no longer exists? Think about it for a minute. Once we lose fact, all we end up with is interpretation, and with it comes bias. However, interpretation and bias are tools of their own. They are tools we can still use to learn: trial and error, hypothesis, simple opinion; they can all be used to further knowledge. Research can still be done and arguments can still be had, both of which are learning experiences.
I bring up this point as I use it to attempt to describe the scale of how big the unknown is. Even if we were to chart every single nook and cranny of the Earth, learn new laws of nature, and find secrets to the universe we never thought to consider – even if we “learn everything”, we still have other ways to expand knowledge and in turn expand what a person can choose to learn. We are truly never done learning. Therefore the unknown keeps expanding similar to how infinity keeps growing; the limit does not exist.
This state of mind often confuses people and can even make people scared. To not know everything that goes on around you is a scary thing to consider. A handicap, but one we all share. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t ever scared of the unknown. However, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I wasn’t just scared of the unknown. I, and many others are scared that we might find something that can negatively affect us.
I dub it “fear of the known,” a completely original name, and what better example than the situation the entire world seems to have fallen into. To know there is a threat out there that many know very little about, is scary, more of a scare than any horror story or folklore out there. Simply knowing it exists was enough to send many into mass panic, and not knowing much about it made it even more frightening.
I went on all kinds of websites and social media to find the reactions and words of recollection of all kinds of different people, given these trying times. What I found was both expected and unexpected. People were scared, but there were also an abundant amount of people attempting to share smiles and laughter with others. “Looking on the bright side” as they call it. People were reminiscing with others, they were sharing jokes and ideas, and trying to have a good time conversing publicly on the internet. Admittedly, they did this before the government mandated social distancing, but there was some kind of new underlying motive here. I could just tell they weren’t doing this for themselves, they were doing it for others. People were trying to get others, sometimes complete strangers, through troubling times happily. Truely, it was unknown to me that people who couldn’t even go to see or visit each other, worked so hard to keep each other alive and well. The oh-so-much passion and soul, put into projects to entertain and help others get through this situation, was new to me.
This is also a reason I take comfort in the unknown, you can find something that can make you scared, but you are just as likely to find something to brighten your day. Speaking of days, I never reached a conclusion that day. However, I was put at ease by what I did find. The kindness, effort, and positivity floating around us, even if situations are dire; it all put a smile on my face. Finally feeling relaxed, I figured I’d do the same someday for somebody who might need it. And to that end, I fell asleep after realizing how much time I spent thinking this through. My turn had finally ended, it was time to wait for the next one. The next day, where we might feel small in the scale of the unknown, but even on a small scale there is still so much to do.
I simply await the day people will be able to exchange words face-to-face once more.