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a crazy letter i wrote to a friend of mine over three years that i found while going through some old things. (i can’t believe i actually sent it.)

July 13, 2011

May 1, 2008

Dear E___,

I have found, to both my happiness and dismay, that there are a great deal of similarities between the man in the mousehole and I. (I must confess that I have recently been reading Dostoyevsky’s Notes From Underground, and I find it to be the most beautiful and terrifying thing I have ever read… and I am not saying this out of any kind of pseudo-pretentiousness; it speaks to me in a way that no other piece of literature has ever spoken to me before). Not unlike him, I had always thought that knowledge and intelligence were the keys to happiness and victory—the more intelligent we were, the more answers we would have; the more answers we had, the happier and more victorious we would be. And much to my dismay, I have found that this assumption has not proven to be true. I have since found that my intelligence, if you wish to even call it that, makes me content and miserable all at the same time; I am content, for example, in my knowledge, my self-awareness if you will, that sets me apart from the fool who acts without thinking, and yet that thinking more often than not prevents me from acting at all! This honest self-analysis that the person I envision I could be, the person that I desire to be, is little more than a mirage eats away at my sanity; I can see it so clearly, my imagination runs wild and the experience of my triumphs are so real and seemingly within my grasp that I almost leap into the world and give myself to this delicious dream completely, and yet it is a goal that I know I can never reach because it is simply a trick of my mind—the ghost of a long departed idealism that once captured my heart. I am as cowardly as I am courageous.

In reality, this thing that I loathe to call my intelligence simply alienates me even further from the rest of society; and even though I am quite an unsociable person by nature, I still get lonely and crave the kind of companionship that the Buddha called ‘admirable friendship.’ When we first met, I saw a lot of similarities between you and I (not that I thought you were a miserable person who failed to act out of a perplexing array of philosophical conundrums such as myself, only that you did not seem to truly be happy but in search of happiness). I might not have been at your intellectual level (I am certainly not an ‘educated’ man nor do I have the benefit of attending an institution of higher learning), but I felt that I was sufficiently intelligent enough to spark your interest and your friendship. (In fact, embarrassingly enough, I even entertained the idea that perhaps one day, we would become the best of friends.) Yet, after a short time, I realized that it was merely wishful thinking on my part. My realization was confirmed (painfully I might add) time and time again, like, for example, the last two times that I attempted to gather the courage to engage you in conversation. On each occasion, you gave me what perhaps you thought to be a clever excuse to prematurely end our (admittedly awkward) interaction in the form of an overwhelming urge to go to the book store, remember? (Perhaps you really did just want to go to the book store and it had nothing to do with me, but then I wonder why you did not invite me along if that were indeed the case. I like books too. Either way, I found it terribly insulting—especially on the day of my birthday when not only did I go to a job interview and the owner not show up, but then on the way home, I was greeted with a double-dose of rejection when you excused yourself to go to the book store.) The worst part is that I realize it was most likely my fault, that it is my personality that puts you off, and that it was my personality that drove you to make such excuses out of concern for my fragile intellect as much as your own boredom.

As I think about what I am writing, I can imagine you thinking while reading this, “What drivel; what absolute nonsense!” I can even imagine you showing this to some of you other friends while sharing a bottle of wine and having a good laugh at my expense, but to be honest, I do not care (OK, that is not entirely true; I do care, but there is nothing I can do about it so I have to tell myself that I do not care while secretly hoping that you will find my words amazingly refreshing and insightful, so much so that you will at once desire to invite me over for a cup of coffee and a long chat about our innermost thoughts. But I am not so deluded as to think this will actually happen, and in all probability you will have a good laugh at my expense. So be it!). I confess that if I were to receive a letter of this sort, I would probably do the same myself. I cannot begrudge you too much then, can I? Ha! Of course I can, and I probably will; nevertheless, I hope that you will at least see, behind all of my existential gibberish and this admittedly poor attempt at writing in a cliché Dostoyevsky-esque style, what it is that I am so desperately trying to say. In other words, I am sorry that we could not have been better friends, and as I try to understand why the majority of my friendships turn out the way that they do, I realize that I am doing so through the eyes of a man in a mousehole. In fact, that is how I see the whole world. For good or for ill, it is the only perspective that I have ever known without ever knowing it until know. Perhaps now you are wondering why I have written this, and all I can offer is that sometimes being truthful can be therapeutic; but more than that, I hope that you will at least understand me from an intellectual standpoint. Being a man that is familiar with the dialectic method, I know that if anyone can make sense of this gibberish and glimpse the confusion and clarity that is within my heart, you can. I am not sure that you want to, but I am willing to overlook that fact for the sake of the ‘sublime and beautiful.’ No, that is poor joke that I have borrowed from our dear friend Dostoyevsky; the truth is, it is my hope that this confession will finally rid me of the humility of rejection that I feel, imaginary or not, which rises like bile in my throat every time I am reminded of you.

Perhaps this ‘man in a mousehole’ phase will pass in time and I will see things from a different perspective, but for now this is something that I must accept. I must also accept that as pretentious as I sometimes find you to be, I admire and respect you all the same. And, since I am being completely honest, what pains me the most in this world is to be spurned by those that I look up to and admire. While I am no stranger to having others reject me or write me off, to having others not understand me, to being seen by others as nothing more than an eccentric anomaly that is tragically out of place, I am not used to having this be done by someone who I think is actually worth getting to know. It is painful and humiliating and absolutely maddening to a person such as myself—a person with intelligence, self-respect, and worst of all, stubborn pride. What is even harder to bear is admitting it, whether to myself or to my perceived transgressor. In fact, this is turning out to be one of the hardest things I have ever done (OK, that is bit of an exaggeration, but it certainly not an easy task for me in the least), and we shall see if I manage to gather the courage to send this to you at all. (And, if you are reading this, then it is safe to say that I did and my judgment did not get the better of me before I managed to send it.) But regardless of what you think or feel after reading this and reflecting upon it, for me it has been cathartic in the true sense of the word, and for that I truly thank you.

Sincerely,

Jason Merritt

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One Comment
  1. I can't believe you sent this either, but I can believe you wrote it. I have written such letters, but not with such depth as you. What is even more maddening (and painful) than being rejected by those you look up to, and being an anomaly, and all that other stuff, is that we cannot be satisfied with beauty as it is, in the world, and in us, even though deep down we somehow know that only beauty is real, needless of anything else, and that beauty and truth are one.

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