Affective is a collection of fresh reads, perspectives, and thought pieces

Second Person


April 23

The Second Person is a project exploring the various identities that converge into who we are, the hundreds of worlds we inhabit in a day, the roles we play that are always changing. Through second person prose pieces, we try to bring out various versions of ‘you’, virtual and real, internal and external, and create an archive of self by examining interactions, beliefs, experiences or moments.

Nobody ever tells you how difficult balance is to find. Perhaps the only way it can be found is naturally, without analysing it and seeking it out. But it is as though in every quality, every action, everything you see around, there are only spectrums of opposing forces, pushing back and forth in a constant tug-of-war.

You need to be natural, but also to create who you want to be. You want to be confident, but also conscious of yourself, humble, not obnoxious. You want constant happiness, a lack of stress and discomfort, but you know that turmoil and discontent give happiness its meaning, its significance. You want the world to happen to you, but at the same time, you want to take control and steer it in your direction.

You can't express clearly how much you feel this constant oscillation, how you see it in every thing around you. As though there is no more accurate description of life than the swing of a pendulum, going back and forth between happy and sad, open and shut, careful and reckless, conservative and liberal, hopeful and empty, all of these poles constantly shifting. It often feels as though you are on the edge of some clarity, some discovery about finding the balance, the right place for the pendulum to stop, when you realise that axis has changed again, that it is not just the pendulum which is in motion but the entire set up around it.

Maybe the only way is to pretend the pendulum is not there, to fix your own poles so firmly in discipline and routine that they are the only ones you see, to desensitize or simply ignore the many swings that each experience throws at you. But even as you try to fix your position, you see the different ends of every spectrum all around the city, in every small thing around you. You see the opulence with the abject poverty, traditional jostling with modern, the glimpses of warmth and humanity alongside constant, cold indifference, the furious, aggressive chaos contrasting with occasional tranquility.

You know, with complete certainty, that everything and its opposite is true, that the city around you is just a reflection of the capabilities of its people, that while your pendulum is swinging, there are a million others also going back and forth, each with their own destinations, each one slightly altered by the poles they have already been between, in some kind of system so complex that you want to only focus on your own trajectory, because trying to find ways of aligning them or any equilibrium apart from your own is futile. You can find solace in the constant motion, or simply close your eyes to all of it and focus on your pivot, establish yourself as firmly centred by ignoring the rest of it, looking only inwards and forgetting all the rest.


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