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The Tomb of the Unknown Known

Ignorance at Half-Mast

By Gerard DiLeoPublished 5 months ago Updated 4 months ago 2 min read
The Tomb of the Unknown Known
Photo by John Thomas on Unsplash

If only I had been something known. Or at the least, something worth remembering.

I am an unknown. I am something missing — misplaced. Not discovered until it is too late. Knowns are more kindly than unkowns, because unknowns pack more punch than knowns.

Knowns are boring; unknowns are trap doors.

Unknowns blindside you; knowns walk in stride with you, imbued with false pride, with the fallacy of jobs-well-done, seemingly without overt harm while covert injuries fester until a fever breaks.

I am the unknown yet-to-be-known. I bring tragedy and mayhem. I am surprise, laced strongly with regret. My song is "If Only..."

If only I had known, I could have...

should have...

would have...

But Ignorance — not pride — comes before the fall. Pride is the stride, but ignorance is the false prophet leading into unkowns that are predestined by the unknowns themselves. That fall is from gravity, i.e., gravitas. A face on the ground renders a different perspective; looking from the bottom, up, and the unknowns can be recognized — can be known. A face-down review is true visual acuity. Focus makes the calls.

I am dead in the sense that what I wreak cannot be undone and cannot live again.

What I engender can be forgiven, but it cannot be forgotten. As an unknown, I am poised to engage a series of unfortunate events, each ferning out in precipitate progeny of false comfort and inane destinies.

That makes fertile ground for rationalizations, excuses, and their actualization, which intersect at cowardice.

I am buried in many places, because every tombstone hides secrets: lives, having wanted to be lived differently. Pain, serving as a mirror to see one's own suffering, just shinier by the time pain inflicted reflects back from others, but worse: for it is a shattered glass with a thousand thousand facets of pain re-envisioned and cutting your flesh and bleeding you out. If not now, then later. If not later, then by the time you're under that tombstone.

Life is venturing with the unknowns; death is finalizing the knowns. But the fog is thicker for some venturing in, adventurously, than for others. Looking with both eyes, tempered by the mind's eye, is looking with both sides of the brain; and the fog clears somewhat.


I am an unknown, but every living thing will finally know me. For I am Death itself, which makes burying me under a tombstone a joke of redundancy.

When you stroll the cemeteries, perhaps by whimsy or perhaps driven by the need to revisit another who is gone, you are passing ghosts with unfinished business. You are passing the pasts of regret. The coulda's, woulda's, shoulda's... Pass them with care and pass on the right. Pass them with reverence. Pass them with pity. And wonder... do you belong there already... with them.

I am the unknown, the missing, the misplaced epiphany, and you're not likely to meet me. Nor are you likely to understand me, for that would imply the foresight of mercy, empathy, and self-sacrifice — all as their own rewards on this mysterious journey. Sometimes rewards are painful, but beware placebos.

The more foresight, the less mysterious; the better footing on irregular stones in your irregular paths; the more uneventful the surprises in the fog. The time to live is before the unknowns conspire to deanimate you.


About the Creator

Gerard DiLeo

Retired, not tired. In Life Phase II: Living and writing from a decommissioned church in Hull, MA. (Phase I was New Orleans and everything that entails. Hippocampus, behave!

[email protected]

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (2)

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  • 𝐑𝐌 𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐜𝐤𝐭𝐨𝐧4 months ago

    This is more fantastic work and definitely thought provoking!

  • Highly evocative work. I felt the grimness in the atmosphere. Marvelous job!

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