If I just... disappeared.
Often, a thought has roots. This thought of disappearing is not new either. (October 1, 2010, an ill-formed plan. We're on it still. Even this blog post is not something I am writing on a whim. It has been writing itself in parts over a large span of months.) Neither is it something unique. People have been doing this, and even writing manuals about how to disappear without a trace. Sometimes, we want to disappear to start anew. Sometimes, we desire that if we disappear, someone comes to look for us. Some court this thought, some do it, and some actually don't care and this is not even a thought for them. But, it seems to me that this is a deliberate test with which we sometimes test people from whom we are binding expectations. We pray or hope that they succeed, but the scary thought which deters us is the "what if they don't". We are afraid.
It is not they who have set up this expectation. It is us. But sometimes, we transfer the weight on to them. This fear, that they might not come looking, that our trust, or faith, or expectation was ill-placed, this is the scary thought. Perhaps, it is the fear that 'we were wrong when we desperately wanted to be right'. Consequently, we may not ever act on this thought. Because we would rather embrace denial and let things take their course than actually trying to touch them actively. (Of course, the uncertainty principle may apply here, and what was to be can now not be because we've shone a light on it.) So, we are easily dissuaded to touch what we conceive as fragile and tender - and highly uncertain.
“People abandoned one another constantly without performing the courtesy of of actually disappearing. They left, but didn't, lurking about, a constant reminder of what could or should have been.”
~ Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, The Nest
It isn't too bad though. Suppose we actually go ahead and disappear (the rule being, disappearance would be without telling) and they don't come looking, we know with more certainty that our expectations were misplaced. Though it might be painful, but in the long run, is much better than heaping our expectations on someone who would nevertheless have not cared about them in the first place. So, it is kind of right, you know.
So, should one disappear? For how long? The first one is tricky to answer. This is mostly a risky gambit. Oh wait, maybe I already know the answer to that too! I had put it in a series of tweets back on January 17th, 2017. Someone had shared this Aeon article on the mathematics of love which had caused me to use a mental associative memory search to figure out at what time might I have thought of the idea (hint, after I had read what a Lapunov function is) and to learn how to use the Twitter advanced search to find that string of tweets.
When the heart broke, I expected it to make no sound. Gladly, it did not disappoint. What surprised me was the long duration that it remained quiet after that. It wasn't sad, nor felt sad, it wasn't painful either. It was just...quiet. There was no void that had to be filled back in. It was just that someone had come and made a home in the heart. Now, the house was abandoned. And it was okay. I own the estate (I own my heart). I let it be. The house. Careless as I have always been, I let it remain unattended. There is a quote which I will have to dive in to find. Its gist is that Nature reclaims what is left unattended. Soon, there was a thick overgrowth covering the place. Green, colourful, gleeful. It became quite a spectacle - you see, it was beautiful. And to be very clear, the first estate was not given, it just came to be. No, it wasn't the first estate to do that - entire heart was. And that is funny. I never noticed that before. I don't think the heart - my heart - has any limits of size. There are no replacements. So, whoever belonged there once, belongs there forever. Some lie in dereliction, but all are on firm ground and can't be bequeathed. Suddenly, the heart takes a larger than life dimension - can't fill in one sight. One might wonder, this is stupid! How can one keep on loving something that ceases to exist? It shouldn't be tough though. We still love those who are now deceased. We never find replacements (and those who seek one are doomed to suffer). It is just that the love did not grow anymore because no one fed it. Thus, it would be safe to say, and I think Byron has put eloquently in another context (I did not love man less, but Nature more). I would say that I did not stop loving (in fact, it grew a bit more, but more on that later). I just loved others more.
I am often accused of being mathematical. Being the doctrinaire that I have become, let me prove to you that you can always love more. When people leave, they leave us restless. The tongue visits the site where the tooth stood a bit more frequently, for some time. We ache a bit more. I would claim that we have actually started to love them a bit more - now that they're gone. So, love has increased. Should they return (or if we are wise to love others more after realizing the fragility arising out of this loss), we'd love them more. And if this were to continue over and over again, love would continue to grow. (Who love in youth love better when old - and it spreads.) So, love here is increasing with shocks (increasing nevertheless, unless you turn cold and love none). But this is just a thought experiment and no one in the picture has - as of now - left. But we know now that love can increase (somehow). So if it can, then how can you say that you have loved as much as you could? (It is, to me, a Lyapunov function - to mathematize it.)
Anyhow, if they were to not return, that love which grew slightly would then stay there forever - frozen at that level. And the more people grow your heart, the denser will be the undergrowth in these houses. Every next gets the better than the previous. But if you take a stroll through the woods then, you'll realize - one who was loved is still loved. Hence, those who say they don't love someone anymore, are either lying or ignorant or were never in love in the first (or any other) place. Of course, by this entire story, I claim that it never broke, but only loved more. Which is nice.
Caveat: If it becomes a game you play, you run the risk of making it routine, which then changes the situation for the worse. Like Bilbo Baggins. He played his disappearing act too often. The second question is easy to answer. For how long should I disappear? As long as it takes. If that is forever, so be it because it doesn't matter anyway.