I KEEP LOOKING FOR THE ENDING of this story. Where it's supposed to end, based on all the stories I know of from mythology, from history, from science, from life. I find comfort in these stories, in knowing that they have endings, and I've made it my life's mission to study them. I used to study them to understand the structure of a story, so that I could be a Writer with a capital W, because Writer was some sort of fantasy occupation I had in my head for ages, or because creating worlds let me escape the uncertainty of my life.
I didn't understand, then, that I was studying them to find something. Treasure-hunting for a fabled reward, for something that didn't necessarily exist in reality, but I thought that if I could use the power of my mind--if I could just figure out where the cracks in the world were that served as gateways to another dimension, where things were tangible and I could manipulate reality enough to make...I don't know, magic happen? If I could do this, I could see It coming. Where "It" is not a sewer-clown, but the grizzly reality that inevitably awaited me, and with this knowledge, I could avoid It. I could save myself.
This morning, I realized the worst thing I could have possibly realized: that stories are nothing but human-fabricated frameworks, our imaginations trying to make sense out of our own realities.
Well, fuck me.
I think I've known this a long time, but I've been too afraid to admit it: that the story structures I've studied are frames I try to fit onto a chaotic world, one that doesn't care about story structures. The attempt to create books and mythologies and anthologies about the world is merely a human source of comfort--there's no inherent truth to any of these stories. They're just reflections of what we value.
In some ways, this is freeing. That real-life Lord of the Flies newspiece that came out a while ago allows a different, counter-Golding narrative to be told, wrecking our predisposition to assume that people are innately vicious and evil--a predisposition that likely lasted as long as it did because of the influence of one storyteller. That storyteller understood life through one frame, and we started to accept that as fact, as reality. But reality twists and turns and isn't as simple and straightforward as storytellers have told us it is. It doesn't always have the tragic ending for girls, but also doesn't always have the heroic ending for girls. It doesn't tell the story of heroes and villains because no one is entirely hero and no one is entirely villain.
But in other ways, it's terrifying.
Now how am I supposed to perform risk-management on my life? When things can go any which way? When I don't know if fleeing the country in the midst of growing tensions that have been popping at the seams into all-out riots over the past few years is the right answer, or staying put is the right answer? If the tale of my life ends in my premature death, will it be a tragedy or a victory? Tragic for some, victorious for others?
If I'm the protagonist in this story, and not some random background character (which is more likely, let's be honest), my author sucks at plotting. (I can relate.)
I keep looking for the ending of my story so that I can shape the story in that direction, I can make myself learn the lessons I'm supposed to learn, I can become the kind of protagonist I want to be. But I can't see the ending because story structures shift as humanity continues on. We see bigger parts of the picture. We accept various narratives in place of our reality, because life is easier to cope with when you have a roadmap. That roadmap is an illusion, of course, and there is no set end to the journey, there is no right way to get there, and while that may be comforting for some--and even for me, in my good moments--I feel like I'm swimming in the uncertainty of what this presents to me. The frameworks around me that used to support my life narrative are collapsing and I'm Alice falling down the rabbit hole, books that used to be on shelves now floating in space as I pass them by, unable to swim out of the wind tunnel, no clue where I'm going to land.