How things work, according to her: You are a genius. You can do anything you set your mind towards, and ignore all the trivialities. They aren’t useful. Pretend they don’t exist, and they will not.
How things work, according to me: Realism.
She tells me all this with the depth and wisdom of someone who is convicted in what she is saying. Watch the bones in my fingers illusion white as I work and crosses the conviction into the sinews of her brain. There’s a whole pattern of it, of how I can bend invisible rules to my will and work miracles in the face of impossible.
She doesn’t believe in minor technicalities for me, doesn’t believe in a variety of thoughts where I’m as mortal as any other person and cannot (will not) try to bend the rules. To her I am immortal, a creature of magic and sparkling intelligence and creation. I’m a walking mosaic, one brought to life by some goddess who is in love with a tender plight.
(So many tiny little shards and pieces just to make up one whole; why would you put in all that effort? someone once asked her.
For the sake of art, creation, she replied. You’d think it was the most obvious thing in the world.)
I know how her mind works because I used to be her. Used to believe in stomping down every obstacle and creating new opportunity for myself, chasing a series of a thousand goals and not minding if I missed a couple on the way.
She writes in bronze, earth under her nails from digging up a reservoir of courage. All that strong belief needs to come from somewhere, needs a steady supply of fuel to keep going – though I have my doubts about this, and that even if there were no such fuel left it may still run on.
(How is she like the earth? They spin on and on endlessly, immeasurable and immutable)
This is not how things work, I tell her over and over. They are not immortal, not unyielding in the wind. Sometimes they are soft, thistle in the breeze – ethereal, almost unreal if you didn’t know it was there and where to look. You have to look for it first, look for the reason and then the justification, otherwise you are presenting an argument that is a house of cards.
One sigh is all the gust needed to bring down the house; it falls, and she becomes tetchy, presents new sloppy debates which throw fallacies around and are easily deconstructed with just a few words. Sometimes it doesn’t even take that.
She builds her own mosaic, puts in gems and crystal, shatters fine crockery and doesn’t mind it. The mosaic is too stunning, people don’t want to look at it, ever, and so they seek to destroy it. They paint over it with dull tones, rip out the finery and replace it with stained glass. It becomes averaged, dulled and people don’t look at it.
(They are smug, they have their own little perceived victory and they call it preservation)
(Others tear into them for destruction and she calls it a victory)
This is how the world works, I tell her, and set about forming my belief system for her.
Stage one: watch and observe. Cynicism helps above all else. This is already where she stumbles, because she doesn’t lend herself well to sarcastic and cynical; she is still too much the eternal optimist.
Stage two: create a path. Follow it closely, and then deviate from it. Give others no justification.
Already she is dwelling on how the path can be left so easily, when it was recently-created. She doesn’t follow how to abandon it, and instead focuses on the positives. It always circles back, somehow, to bending the rules of the world and having others create monuments as homages. (It always circles back to unrealism)
She scribbles out the blueprints, forms her own in Sharpie on the desktop – as though that makes it all the more tangible, when it’s only that little bit harder to erase. Writes in belief and strength of conviction – so her belief system is belief.
Belief is her belief system, and I mull this over later with a pot of tea. The weather is too bad to consider any drink other than tea, and I turn her words over. I’ve practiced realism for too long; I stopped being able to believe in things, and when I see her next I tell her this is how the world works, this is the belief system we are looking for.
She is skeptical, and brings me a dictionary later with a post-it note attached, an arrow indicating the text I need to see. The columns of tiny print make my head buzz and my eyes hurt, but I read on to see her sticky-note annotations: belief and faith and magic, art and creation. This is her new system for how things work, a reason to cause chemistry and defy physics and rewrite philosophy, in the name of finding something new to believe in.
I rewrite my own belief system, scratch it together with stray words and hold it all together with tape on a corkboard. Study it, memorize it, learn it by heart and then rewrite it again, scribble in Sharpie and smooth it over with pencil, until it makes no sense.
This is how the world works, I decide: unpredictable, wild, making no sense. Neither of us should be trying to categorize it.
(It stopped making sense a long time ago)