I found my friend, at the end of the day, staring into the abyss.
He was trembling. The blackness was complete, and anything I said to try and coax him away from the edge failed to get through, he was too smart, he didn’t know what to do he said: “There is no solution.”
So I sat with him a while as the sun set, and thought.
We do not use language to communicate; we use it to construct our inner worlds.
When we talk, we reference our inner worlds through shared symbols, and hope to reference something of the inner reality of others, well, our idea of what that reality is. We don't always get it right. Because of this there is 'transfer of ideas', each person individually reconstructs the 'idea' the other is trying to share in their own terms, using the resources of their mind.
The standards of language, metaphor, cliché, manners, and the cyclic nature of most routine life all collude to reduce the mindboggling complexity of this task to something which is manageable by most people most of the time.
Make no mistake the world is boring because you stopped needing to think about it.
For a lot of us the sense that we listen and understand, we speak and are heard is so real that what has just been mentioned above is transparent, and we can ignore it.
Except when it isn't, and we can't.
As we copy the symbolic lexicon which others use to communicate most of the genesis of our inner reality, our conception of the world, both in essential terms, but also as it changes daily, is done through reflection, through our own personal internal dialogue. The this dialogue takes- whether an inner voice, internal images, feelings, associations isn't as important as the changes we make in its light for it changes how we feel about the subjects under review, and consequently how we act. And I use the term act to include internal actions of emotion and thought, as well as external movement.
So, to recap, sensation resolves partially into conceptual objects, which in turn are referred to within our internal vocabulary as we translate experiences into narratives, by this we attempt to understand what the world means to us, and also: crucially, what we mean to ourselves, in the story of our lives.
Sometimes though, we don't, or can't, understand what the world has to offer, or maybe we just don't understand what our inner voice is telling us. We fail to communicate.
That's actually where a lot of the trouble starts.
The single biggest problem people face when talking is not that they fail to understand what the other person is saying; but rather they fail to understand what they themselves mean.
People in new situations tend to simply react to the situation by attempting to change it along some pre-learned pattern in so doing they miss what is really going on in other people's hearts and minds. This creates a great deal of frustration and resentment, entirely unnecessarily.
For our external language is not complete: As the world changes, and we grow, our experiences alter, our conceptions must correspondingly mature with new understanding. A language at best is a bare-bones model of reality, an implicit evocation of the relevant aspects of the situation, which is remarkably unsuited to dealing with entirely new situations evolving in unexpected ways. As a consequence most fo our inner representations are much much richer than our external language allows, we assume others have this rich inner world as well, and our success in communicating previously allows us to shortcut the signalling process wherever possible.
When trying to communicate these rich inner worlds to each other at vital moments, we may falter; the first thing which most people do, and do this implicitly, is to engender the emotional state required to easily conceive the new idea within our listeners. If they feel as we do, they can understand what we do...but should we not understand our own emotions, because we cannot understand our own inner dialogue this becomes very hard indeed.
Suddenly our ability to reflect on other matters suffers, we start to feel anxious, then confused, then isolated, and finally our emotions peel away, one by one, until we are depressed, and then in despair.
We can still talk to ourselves. But learning new things, feeling creative, original, summoning the emotional energy to do anything becomes almost impossible. The abyss is black and infinitely deep, it is hollow because all energy and action poured into it, returns nothing. We can talk to ourselves, but we hear nothing, we see nothing, and for many people that is terrifying. They see that as a confirmation they *are* nothing. Attempting to convince them otherwise raises nothing but hollow laughter, because they know you can't see where they can see. And they are as right as they are wrong.
Trying to imagine that the future holds promise under such circumstances is impossible, we can distract ourselves, find something to numb the despair, wait to see whether our emotional engine will spring to life with the same hope of a man in the middle of the Sahara in a car with no petrol.
So what do you when you are faced with the abyss? How do you get your inner self to speak with you? The answer is simple, but it is not easy.
You must look full on into the abyss and with all your heart jump into it. Shut out any attempt to talk to yourself, feel the despair, feel the emptiness, allow it to seep into every pore of your being, into every part of you inner world. Only then will you realise that your inner spaces are infinite, and your despair finite, only then will your inner self start to show you glimpses of what caused it to go silent.
Make no mistake, you will not be happy with what you see.
But also make no mistake, you will see something.
And the despair will begin to pass...
I got up and looked at my friend; it was the middle of the night. “Something has to change” I said. He looked uncertain. “My friend is down there ..” I said, pointing into the empty infinite, above and below. “Come with me, we’ll find him together.” And I jumped.
A few moments later I opened my eyes and my friend was crying in the car next to me, sobbing into his hands, and on my shoulder. He did this for a while and then fell silent.
“I think I need some help.” He said.
"Ok" I replied.
So I drove him home.