This was written for a devised theatre workshop that I’ll be attending this Friday.
My teacher told me about ether once. He said it was the substance that embodied the universe, a backdrop against which all other objects took their bearings.
I remember thinking how comforting this must be, to know your place in the world so definitely, so surely, that you would never get lost.
But then my teacher said, the concept of ether is dead. Absolute motion has no meaning; instead, objects take reference to each other.
Just like us, deciding our worth based on those around us. If they think we’re too loud, too tall, too fat, too weird and forever too young and stupid to understand, no worries. We’ll find the people that make us feel just right – somehow, in this vast space that fits 7.5 billion people, but somehow still doesn’t quite have enough space for all of us.
We take reference to each other. I once told someone I was dating that I was bisexual. He said God made Man and Woman to love each other. I said I was polyamorous. He said God made marriage sacred. We take reference to the Bible –
Wait. I only want to love and be loved. What’s wrong with loving? Our time on Earth is short. Who knows what comes after that?
He looks at me and I remember he believes in Heaven.
We take reference to how can we be together if our beliefs are so different? He asked for time to figure it out. Meanwhile, he’s kissing my mouth. Two months pass and I ask again. He still needs more time. Meanwhile, his hand is under my shirt and it’s snaking up my back and I’m frozen because cold fingers are reaching for my bra –
No, not until you figure out what your God says about me. I don’t want to be the cause of your sin.
He leaves. We take reference I have to find my own bearings. Alone. Finding meaning on my own has no meaning. I’m flailing my arms and legs, and I’m praying, actually praying, that I’m getting somewhere. I won’t be able to tell until someone else comes along, another frame of reference…
I think about how many people before me have grieved like this. Wondering if they were the wrong people born in the right place, or the right people born in the wrong place.
But then my teacher said, the concept of ether is dead. Maybe there’s no right/wrong, only that we’re hard-wired to believe in absolutes. No good/bad, only the beliefs we take to be absolute.
If this is our condition, then let our faith and doubt, hopes and fears, love and apathy be the substance that embodies the universe instead. And if ever we lose our bearings, we only have to look up and know that these are the things that connect us.
We are right where we are.