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“Thoughts” — a painting I made during my gap year in 2016. (Credit: Lucia Pradel)

I stared through the open window. My lungs filled with the cold winter air, and an odd sense of hope invaded my soul. A small ray of light peaked out from behind the clouds and rested next to me. God then whispered through my right ear: “This year will be good, Ana. Not that the rest have not been good, but this one will be especially so.”

I smiled and said: “Thank you for the blessing,” and the thin ray of sun hid once more.

After hearing those brief words, I lay flat on my bed and thought about life. These days my ceiling had become my favorite canvas because my imagination and memories could stain it without leaving a visible trace. I stared at it for a few seconds, and my eyelids began to feel heavy. Then, quickly enough, a hollowness invaded the depths of my chest. This feeling of emptiness was not new: It had been tingling all through my being for a few months. Oddly enough, though, as soon as this new year rang in, it became louder — acute.

As the days passed, I continued to experience the same sensation. I spoke to my friends about it and tried to explain this “emptiness,” but no words could capture the feeling. Even when I was able to explain, it never felt like I had said enough, which is why I could not blame them for their lack of useful advice. Some replies ran along the lines of “Why are you thinking so much?” and “Do not think about things so much, Ana.” A small number of them sympathized, saying they “got it,” but then stayed silent. Others would just shake my words off by telling me to “just leave it; it will solve itself, Ana.”

But I couldn’t just leave the nothingness, this emptiness, alone.

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Photo by Howard Hall.

Photo by Howard Hall.

I have been thinking a lot about lists. And I have been thinking a lot about reasons. What inspires us to make the choices we make? Many weeks ago I started compiling lists of lines of poetry, not full poems themselves, but simply lists of one line each that one-day could belong to a poem. And I started to think: all my lists of lines had themes, had reasons behind them, reflected how I was feeling. It was impossible to separate the list from myself, and thus the lists became reflections of myself in the moment of their creation. With this realization I found I could experiment in making a multi-dimensional self. One that wasn’t me, and actually wasn’t anyone, but was made out of the lists of as many people as I could convince to give me their words, and by combining them I could create some sort of universal, shared, yet nonexistent person. 

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