I think the most important words in the English language (or any other, if you’d like to translate it for me) must be: You matter. This matters. It matters.
We’re all made from it and we can’t escape it. And it causes pain and suffering and sometimes I think we’d like to. We experience pain because the matter, the molecules and atoms making bones and joints and ligaments, starts to fall apart. If we had no matter, we wouldn’t feel a thing.
But the Avett Brothers already warned me against that wish. You can’t be like me but be happy that you can’t. I see pain but I don’t feel it; I am like the old tin man. We have to let ourselves feel. Feel the hurt of an aching heart. Feel the hurt of an aching limb. It’s how we communicate with a broken world. I can only assume it’s how we would communicate with a world that’s finally whole. We feel. We take that risk. We embrace our material nature and live in the present, fleshy reality.
And in an inappropriate linguistic jump, that word matter comes back to us. We want to matter. It’d be easier to not care. Just like it’d be easier to not feel. But deep down, I think we all want to know that our contribution to the world around us is an important one. We want our medals or our certificates, our degrees or our promotions. We want to know that the breath we draw isn’t wasted. That someone heard the words we speak and took them to heart. That what we say, do, feel, and what we are is critical. That if it was taken away, someone would notice. Someone would protest, saying, “I really needed that.” To know that our words comforted a friend, or our presence made a hard moment just a little bit easier. To know that when we walk in a room, someone sighs, “Thank god, you’re here.”
In big and little ways, I think we need this, or at least we want it. We don’t exist in a vacuum. As easy as that might be. We’re pierced and pained by the world around us. We’re all still crying for some measure of approval. And maybe if we all gave it out, our hearts would be satisfied. Or maybe you just have to find it within yourself. Someone wiser than me can tell you that.