Maybe We Can Begin

Carvell Wallace
8 min readOct 1, 2021

When I was in college I read Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being partially because it was the favorite book of some girl I wanted to impress and partially because it seemed like the kind of book the person I was trying to make myself into — erudite, deep-thinking, artistic — should be reading. It opens, as I recall, with the main character, Tomas, gazing longingly out of a window trying to decide between two paths. The problem, Kundera points out, is that this man has never taken either of these paths before. He does not know what will happen if he does either. So in the truest sense, he is faced with the fundamental weight of being alive, namely that he does not know what is going to happen, therefore he does not know what to do.

Lately whenever I talk to any one I love about “this moment,” as in the moment we are all in, the moment we are all sick of talking about, but that casts its shadow on everything, this weird dystopian upside down whatever it is as friend took to calling it at the beginning of pandemic (which I found and still find annoying) this moment which I’m tired of naming — but which I’m also more afraid that we’ll stop naming at all because then it will mean that these multiple collapses and public sufferings will have become entirely unremarkable — whenever I talk with a loved one about This Moment™, I find myself thinking about Tomas’s problem. How do you know where to go when you don’t know what will happen? It does seem more and more to be all of our core problem. What to do, what to do? The past few years have unleashed a torrent of doubt for many. Should I live here, should I vote, should I quit, should I get married should I get unmarried. Should I stay or should I go. Should I be or not be. The question underneath all this is what will happen?

These are not new problems of course. I doubt that anyone throughout all of human history ever known what to do. It’s just that in addition to personally not knowing what to do, we also very much don’t know what is going to happen with the world. We’ve lost the illusion — long held in place by a three-ring circus of systems, the smoke and mirrors of capitalism, patriarchy, consumerism etc — that we can ever know what will happen. Will this land on which I am standing even be here in twenty years, or will it have been claimed by sea and fire? Who can say? As for myself I’ve personally never known what was going to happen. As I said in a post some time ago, all I could ever rely on was that I would stay black and die. So, this moment maybe hits differently…

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Carvell Wallace

This is where I experiment. This is where I learn to write.