Every once in a while I have this fantasy in which I simply disappear.  Not literally, but close to it.  One day I’m here, the next day there’s no trace of me; I’m just gone.  I don’t know just why it appeals to me, but it does.  Every time, I am conscious of wanting to control the emotions of people who might be worried about me; I don’t want them to worry, I don’t want them to even notice I’m gone.  But those things just happen, don’t they?  You can’t control the emotions of anyone but yourself.  Would that I could. But I can’t.

Anyway, something about disappearing has enormous appeal to me.  And let me clarify. By disappearing, I mean “without a trace.”  Like I never existed.  Like there’s a vacancy that no one notices, no one but me. Or, perhaps, not even me.

I know, people have written stories about this sort of thing.  There are lessons to be learned about how important one is in the real world; if you’re gone, all the good you’ve done, all the positive impacts you’ve had, disappear with you.  But this is not relevant to my story; my story is about just being gone without a blip on the screen. No “what if” moments, no “the world could have been different.” Just absence without notice.

Maybe that’s the story in itself. A guy disappears and the expected ripple in the fabric of the universe doesn’t take place, calling into question the  relevance of everyone.  And everything.

It’s the same as waiting for a response that never comes, an unmeasured emptiness in a hole that doesn’t exist.

I suppose I already know how it would be, in a way, because I can recall being ignored, or at least not noticed.  You’ve probably been there, too.  Someone looks past you or through you in the grocery store or in a bus; you are not there, as far as that person is concerned.  Your existence is as meaningless to someone else as a speck of dust on the bumper of a car on a remote hillside in Sri Lanka is to a guy who washes windows on Manhattan skyscrapers.

When I was asleep last night, words came to me, maybe in a dream.  Or maybe I was not asleep, maybe I was awake and wishing I were asleep. I don’t know what they mean, only that they create an image in my mind  too powerful to ignore.

“Weep and the world weeps with you, cry  and you cry alone.”

And that’s why, sometimes, I just want to disappear.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Disappeared

  1. Pauline, you needn’t worry about the swill I allow myself to post. I always…invariably…get over my pity-fests and my inability to see through the fog to the brilliant beauty that lays just beyond. But I appreciate, more than I can possibly express, your words of encouragement. You are so much better at defining sainthood through your actions than most can do with their words.

  2. Don’t like this one, John. Well written, but don’t like what the words say. You have so much to offer and give to the world… best selling novel perhaps. One of the strongest messages my mother ever gave me was, “Life got good after I turned 50.” Truer words were never spoken. My mother lived to be 100. People do their most service to the world after they turn 50 – their wisdom is the wisest. Their attitude is less self serving. Their appreciation of life is at its highest.

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