onism – n. the frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time, which is like standing in front of the departures screen at an airport, flickering over with strange place names like other people’s passwords, each representing one more thing you’ll never get to see before you die-and all because, as the arrow on the map helpfully points out, you are here.
Imagine how much more rich and satisfying it would be to have TWO bodies, not just one—so you could escape yourself for a while and live on either sides of the planet, or take a step back and see yourself whole, in full context with the rest of the world, with your face the right way around, your eyes unflattened, just as vivid as you appear to other people. It would be like those rapturous moments when one of your ears becomes unclogged and you can suddenly hear in stereo.
Onism You are here You were lost at first, but soon began sketching yourself a map of the world Plotting the contours of your life and like the first explorers sooner or later you have to content with the blank spaces on the map All the experiences you’ve never had. The part of you still aching to know what’s out there Eventually these questions take on a weight of their own, and begin looming over your everyday life. All the billions of doors you had to close in order to take a single step forward. All the things you haven’t done and may never get around to doing:
All the risks that may or may not have been All the destinations that you may not have bought a ticket to all the lights you see in the distance that you can only wonder about. all the alternate histories you narrowly avoided; all the fantasies that stay dormant inside your head: everything you’re giving up, to be where you are right now; the questions that you wrongly assume are unanswerable. It’s strange how little of the universe we actually get to see. Strange how many assumptions we have to make just to get by, stuck in only one body, in only one place, at a time. Strange how many excuses we’ve invented to explain why so much of life belongs in the background. Strange that any of us could ever feel at home on such an alien world. We sketch monsters on the map because we find their presence comforting. They guard the edges of the abyss, and force us to look away so we can live comfortably in the known World, at least for a little while.
But if someone were to ask you on your Deathbed what it was like to live here on Earth perhaps the only honest answer would be, “I don’t know, I passed through it once, but I’ve really been there.”
From The Dictionary Of Obscure Sorrows