“Ageing is a privilege,” my mother declares as I mock her tufts of greying hair and point out the cracked cement of her drooping cheeks. It is an aphorism which has shrouded every birthday thus far and lies in wait to cast itself over each one to come. It mocks and jests as it sounds in my ears upon each lashing of Time’s whip. From budding days to maturation’s bloom, it cuckholds my lofty existence as much as it cackles in the face of my idealisms. Even so, I cannot help but give a small nod of acknowledgement when it murmurs to me once again.

Aforementioned ageing complexes aside, my twenties have been home to a myriad of achievements as well as horrors of the same magnitude. My personal world was uprooted and replanted more times than I could count. I would leave one tutorial thinking I held the contents of a world encyclopaedia only for another one of life’s happenings to remind me that I knew nothing more than mere fragments of what there was to know. Knowledge would enter my grasp just as soon as it would flee it, the epistemological plane upon which I stood was always being pulled out from beneath my feet. The borders of my vision grew blurry with uncertainty until even what I could see was up for questioning. My reflection upheld the smooth, seamless contours of my face but I blinked, and through the wisps of my lashes, I saw the splintered hems of a leathery visage. Only for a second. Then, in another instant, my ‘true’ face returned to me once more.

Truth, certainty, and knowledge grow more and more nebulous to me by the day. It is almost as if my youthful stride houses the clacking bones of one much older. The faint clicking of my knees betrays my guise and alludes to the frail, willowy figure it veils. Even so, I continue my confident, duplicitous stride.

Nothingness is an ongoing abyss, and it is only with more wisdom that I wander further and further into its clutches. The epistemological treadmill turns itself over faster and faster beneath my feet. I sprint but the mill just gets quicker, always leaving me a stride or two behind. Time begins its ongoing siege on my outer figure, but my inner state defies its onslaught. To grow well-learned and wise is to gain an infantile-like ignorance. Each signifier of progression only evidences a sort of reversion, regression, and de-evolution. It is from nothingness that I began, and it is there that I will end.

But, amid these ageing aphorisms and existential musings, I have found a humble thread to grasp onto. It is Marguerite Duras, a prolific French writer of the 1960s, who handed it to me. She declared:

Savoir rien n’est pas ne rien savoir (to know nothing is not to not know anything).

Nothing is a positive thing. It is nothing’s infiniteness which renders it such a daunting and diabolical foe as much as it is made the perfect bedrock for boundless growth. For within nothingness resides the potential for anything; to be anything is to be undefinable and, to be undefinable is to be limitless. Nothingness’ labyrinth houses no minotaur nor maze; there is no beast to conquer and thus no Theseus-like hero to act as saviour. Nothingness holds my existence in its hands as much as I do, and I possess the agency to make of that what I so wish.