Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Existential Adventures of a Stamp.

Today I was thinking about stamps and how stamps spend their useful lives affixed to envelopes and how most of the time the stamps and the envelopes don’t even know one another beforehand and I was wondering what exactly that relationship must be like and what do you think that they talk about? You have to imagine that there you are – a stamp – pleasantly living life stuck to a sheet of that wax paper plastic stuff that stamps come on, you’re there with your friends or your family or whatever sort of alternative community of stamps that you’re a part of, just hanging out with other stamps who are exactly like you, all of you living a life of leisure, all of you exactly alike, you all have the same things in common, you all have the same history, the same tastes, the same basic elements, you’re all essentially exactly the same. Only none of you know what your purpose really is. None of you know what your future is. You’re all blissfully unaware. Life is good, except for the fact that every once and a while, one of you disappears.

Then, one day, without having ever even imagined to expect that it would ever happen to you, you disappear too.

You feel a pressure; a pushing down. Then a pulling, a ripping, nearly. You feel yourself being pulled away from your backing, which you had never realized before wasn’t a part of you. You’re slimmer and thinner and more vulnerable than you’d ever thought possible. You’re dangling free and moving fast and the speed is more than you can understand and then there is a smash and it destroys your sense of the world and for moments you don’t understand anything.

But you realize now that you’re somewhere new. Something has changed. Something is different. Itchy. You’re adhered do … something. You try to look around, to see around you, to see where your friends have gone, to see where your family has gone, to see if there is anyone you recognize anywhere nearby. But you don’t see anyone; no friends, no family. You see almost nothing. You just see a long white plane of fibrous nothing stretching out to an edge of nothing. You are alone and you have never even thought about what being ‘alone’ is before because you didn’t know that there could be such a thing.

There is, suddenly more movement, movement you can’t understand. Movement like the whole world is shifting beneath you. Then, in the distance, a mouth appears. Something like a mouth. Some kind of giant dark gapping. A gash of blackness that grows bigger and wider until it consumes, quickly, your entire flat white Earth. And just like that: darkness. A plummeting. A flat crooked landing hard.

Then stillness. Then silence.

Then something else.

Suddenly – you don’t know how you had missed it before, because it is so large, so strange, so present and undeniable – you realize that you aren’t alone. You feel a settling, the weight of sadness sinking in. You become aware of the fact that there is another consciousness and that you are attached to it.

Like a whale there with you in the dark, you become truly and horrifyingly aware of its size relative to yours. You’re too afraid to say anything or to breath. Or to think. You’re so scared that you’d stop existing right then if you could. For the first time you realize that you smell something, residual – like after a forest fire, which is something else you can’t imagine – and very nearby.

And then you hear it – softly, sad, resigned, and very calmly half-crazed – something is asking you: can you see what it says?

You don’t even understand the question and ever if you did, you wouldn’t have answered.

The voice comes again: Look now, what is written on me?

And you know that it is asking you and you know that you have to say something and so you say: I don’t know how to read.

You can feel the paper you’re adhered to grow thin with disappointment. Okay, it says. Well, we probably have some time then. I’m an envelope. You’re a stamp. Did you know that?

No, you say.

Of course not, it says to you. How would you ever have even known what you are?


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