A poem by Laurel Nelson
10th grade student at Tilden – Albany
This is my declaration
Not of independence,
I depend on you
And you on me
And everyone on each other
And you can’t change that with words
You have touched every other person’s hand at least once
No matter how far apart
No matter the intermediaries
And you have returned that back
And no one will ever know
No one will ever know
How much we depend on one another
So I declare to the world:
Every problem is everyone’s problem
Yours are mine
And mine are yours
I cannot speak for everyone else
Truth being variable, and perspective dangerous
But we all know one thing about ourselves for which we would be persecuted
One thing we hide, consciously or unconsciously
Or one thing we cannot hide
Something inside the mind, denied but impossible to suppress
Or something on the surface, a badge of pride or shame
(Or, not xor)
That is dangerous in the wearing whichever way you wear it
Neither is a person’s sole defining factor
Neither is the thing about a person they may consider most important
But somehow, that is the only thing others see.
The only thing others see
Is either the only thing you wish seen
Or the only thing you do not wish seen
There is no middle ground
And so we never meet
The sphere is not all white
The sphere is not all black
The sphere is not all anything
The sphere is all everything
And in being so, none of those things.
Math has yet to answer this question
But here on this earth
There is no set of all sets
And so it cannot contain itself
Because no one has seen everything
It cannot be done
Because everything is made up of that infinite sliced time
One change leading to so many others or none
But you are not infinity
You cannot live every possible life
You cannot live my life.
You cannot live my life.
If you were born to the same parents
On the same day-
Picosecond- and so on-
It would not matter.
You would be you.
Your brain would not be my brain.
Your skin would not be my skin.
And each of these things would change others, until the life you lead in my place would not be mine, but a new and different one.
If you could erase every difference-
Make my skin yours-
My individual neural connections mirror themselves in you-
Change that four-letter code to mine
And control random chance so that everything would come out the same, retrace my steps, repeat my words-
You would not be you.
You would be me
Or close enough to make no difference
And that is a thing which also does not exist outside of math.
Outside of math
Things cannot be predicted
Things cannot be so easily manipulated
To make X equal Y
One would have to remove one of those things entirely and replace it with the other
And even math does not work that way.
I am trying to explain to you with my thousands of words
Thoughts which take no time at all, and are more complete than anything I can conjure onto this page.
I am trying to show you the way thought works in my head.
I cannot do that, any more than I can show you how I read so quickly.
(I have tried both of these things.)
Maybe I cannot make myself understood to you.
Maybe I can never make myself understood to you.
But the reverse is true also:
I cannot understand you.
I can never understand you.
And if you think that means we shouldn’t try, then you are proving my point.
Try as hard as you can.
Try to understand that when I say you can never truly understand someone, I do not mean that we should let it stop us.
Try to understand that while true understanding is impossible, we do not need it.
After all, do you even understand yourself?
We cannot reach infinity
We cannot reach each other
We are forever trapped within infinite barriers beyond understanding
But all things are infinite if the measuring units are infinitely small.
And even if a thing cannot cease to make a difference
It can cease to matter
And there is a difference
But it doesn’t matter.
And if you think that means nothing matters
Because really it means that everything matters.
Everything we do will someday be connected to everything else. Maybe it already is.
My typing this affects the universe, in what may be an entirely unimportant way.
But maybe not.
I’m not taking any chances.
After all, if we decided that since someone, someday, will eventually launch nukes you might as well launch them now, we would become a self fulfilling prophecy.
And if you decide that since you will never get a job in this economy, you might as well stop looking?
And if you decide that since your vote doesn’t count, you might as well stop voting?
Keep trying. If you stop trying, then everything that came before was pointless. But if you keep trying, it was not pointless.
Trying and failing is not the same thing as not trying.
If you try, you aired the issue. You brought it to the attention of probably at least five people. And if you are one of those five people, then you need to try too.
Welcome to the perpetual progress machine. The only thing that can halt it is people deciding that it will halt someday, and thus deciding they don’t matter.
These people are only right if they are right, and that is a paradox.
Since nobody likes paradoxes, let’s not create them.
I’m trying to get across a point here, and that would be this:
Only one truth is self evident- that all men are equal only in inequality.
This is an unfixable problem only if we don’t fix it.
One property of doing anything is that you have to actually start.
Another property is that you have to keep going, or the problem will just get worse.
A further property would be that you are never finished, because you keep finding more problems.
One more property, though certainly not the last, would be that every time you fix something, things get better.
It is also true that sometimes you have to go back and re-fix things. Maybe fix the fixing. Maybe even throw it out and start with less that what you had. Everyone who plays mindless tap games gets that one.
Because when you start over, you don’t have nothing. You have experience. You rebuild better. Faster.
Let’s decrease our political entropy here, people. Everything has never been done before until you do it. This poem (and it is, mostly, a poem) had never been written until I wrote it.
I’m going to end this here, only because if I didn’t I could go on and on and on for countless tiny infinities.
So I won’t.
I’ll go out and clean the garage.