What was a zero anyway?

In jianpu notation, zero indicated a caesura, a pause or rest of indeterminate length. Did time that went uncounted, unrecorded, stuck qualify as time? If zero was both everything and nothing, did an empty life have exactly the same weight as a full life?

So much unrecorded: the hours that intervene between farewell and meeting, the days that pass without comment. Months later, years, or a decade — one day I will come back and read these records, and in my surprise at recovering a former self, I may not notice that they are hopelessly incomplete. What did I do in-between each note? What was I thinking, what feelings came, knocked, and perhaps left without waiting to see if the door would open? Not every sentiment is loud enough for the waking mind to hear; their presence is but a rumour.

Note to self: here's a bookmark to remind you – you were stupid, you were dull, you did not manage to set anything down at all.

For every word written down, perhaps a hundred more, all lost now, and will be lost: why? I thought them waking up at night; I felt them crossing the road; I was with people; I was trying not to think at all. It would have been inconvenient, impolite, or unwise, to write. Or the thoughts came like a hive of bees, too maddening to remember though their echo can be felt. Was every thought important? I'm not sure, that's the problem. But they are gone, of that I'm sure, every one of them. So many zeros. Of this, too, I am certain: At end of life when I try to recall what I have thought, it will appear as if I had formed so many whole and complete opinions. Like bricks, like columns. Even this entry, this very note, seems to have a shape it does not deserve. Perhaps, if I am wise, when I read this journal again, what I will see is the silence squatting toadlike, imperious, what I will read are the blanks that huddle deep and massive as mountains, entirely white and wholly resistant.


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