Hard Times

The switch from one mood to the next comes as rapidly as a spasm in a muscle, pulling you in a direction you hadn’t prepared for, unable to fight it. The wrong side of the bed is the only side when the other side is blocked and barricaded, warm bodies creating a wall of mass to stop that first decision of the day, that first method of waking with a smile, that first attempt to make this one, this new day, be one that feels a little better than all of the ones that came before.

Every morning, the ceiling gets a little heavier. The cracks above, expanding now, two feet previously and three feet now, count up rather than down. There isn’t an ending its working towards. There’s only the continuous drone. Maybe the view is skewed, and that extending crack is the move toward a new rise, lifting me into a new life. But it isn’t. Hope is a dangerous thing these days, a fleeting menace in this world. It is what it is, and it isn’t hopeful. I rise each morning, later and later, further into the daylight of a dying world, rushing to get nowhere fast. Click the kettle, make a coffee, can’t have milk because it’s bad for the planet, can’t have a smile because that crack moved with me.

The two sides of view war over how to see the day. More and more, there is only the drone, the motions, the empty smiles, the dread of another day. There is always a spark, inside the mind, that lies and says that maybe this day will be different. Maybe something will happen to split the monotony. Split the atom, explode the life I exist within into pieces. I don’t know when I lost hope. I don’t know when it died inside this body that still lives. I am machine, I roar, I reel. My battery is low.

I know who I am, and it isn’t remarkable. I know where I am, and it isn’t much. I am a partner and a person and I am a shell in this world. There is nothing to live for and nothing to die for. There is no reason to be better than I was this morning or better than I will be later tonight. But the world says look pretty, get fit, have the muscles, have the car, spend the money, eat the junk, drink the alcohol, scroll to the next app, this one gets you all the love and this one let’s you sleep. What am I? I used to be a person with a hope and a dream and a wish and a will. Now I am death, destroyer of worlds. I am words. I sit here and I type because I can, because I feel there is something inside that simmers and burns. This flows from me, neither particularly well written nor awful. It is. I was.

All of this through my mind and the alarm is still singing, reminding me that the rent doesn’t care about my melancholia. The reports I generate have no interest in the lost dream of a teenager. But a dream suggests will and the will never was. It died with the first cut. Today a reminder that there’s nothing to joke about in the world of depression but when there’s no sunrise, a joke is the only speck of light on the horizon. What is there? What is the reason to go on?

Out of bed now and walking to the bathroom. Piss for a minute and avoid the mirror. I don’t hate what I see. I don’t look at what is there to see. My hair is fluffed. My beard has grown beyond control. The eyes are old now, not in years but in the slow decay of the spark. There are people who struggle to make eye contact with themselves in the mirror. I don’t mind. There’s nothing to frighten me. I struggled for years with it. I was scared to look inside and see what wasn’t looking back at me. Somewhere along the road to ruin I left a part of myself, one and two and three pieces, adding to the pile, until not enough that was new remained. The body that stands there now brushing his teeth, flossing and rinsing has no purpose. Probably watching Netflix or listening to a podcast. Another late night and later start. The alarm time never changes. But the energy to do anything about it is gone.

By the time I leave the apartment it is always too late and now I start my day with phone calls on the bicycle. I tell people never to answer a call while cycling. What do you call a cyclist that is on the phone on the bike? A statistic. But I do anyway. There’s no great mystery. Three attempts, three failures. The coward will get someone else to finish the job. Again. Better luck next time.

And there we are. No, there wasn’t much of an ark to this. That’s the life. That’s the life. We are told day in day out by the things that surround us to strive hard, get up, get out, do something to make today better. We are told we aren’t guaranteed ten minutes, let alone ten years. Do what you can to make now special. And yet every day the alarm goes off and I listen, letting it call across the room. Get up, it says. Get up because that report won’t wait. That client needs your love. That file didn’t save. All those people rely on you. You can’t give in. You can’t give in. But how many of them even know my name? how many of them know yours?

I want to tell the people I meet to make sure they do something with their lives. I feel like I’m a cautionary tale but in even saying that, I’m not special. I’m not the warning. I’m just another pair of lungs chugging along the same stretch of road, again and again, sucking down air, pushing out what remains. But along I go. One pedal two pedals. Maybe today will be different. Here at night, I wait for nothing. I don’t want to leave this little space. But how long would I get away with that? The rent man doesn’t care that life isn’t worth living. Because this space is worth something to him. I live in Dublin. You do that math. One sad little man or ten foreign nationals crammed into a bunk bed? I live at the end of the times where human decency had any involvement in living.

Decency keeps us alive. Decency can kill us. I was a decent man. Now I am a liar. I smile and I type and I go on, day after day, sitting there, typing typing typing, unable to be honest for fear of the depression it would set in peoples’ minds. But I’m not special. I’m not a remarkable man. So why bother, right? Why do any of this? I don’t know. Maybe I’m looking for someone like me? Maybe I want to be saved? Or maybe I’m just ready to go and there’s nothing to help me yet. Who knows? I’m not a hard man. I’m soft, no shape, gormless, formless. When I’m done, I don’t have a suit that fits me. But I know I won’t do anything to change it.

The alarm will go off. If I can, I’ll get up, I’ll get dressed, I’ll be late. Maybe tomorrow the driver will be looking the other way.

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2 thoughts on “Hard Times

  1. OK – now I’m really getting worried about you. If you are writing these as an exercise in Creative Writing that is one thing, but I’m seeing hopelessness and that is worrying for hope is always a good thing (unless you’re on a gallows) (name that episode!). Hope is what makes that daily drudgery bearable for all of us. I’m going on T’internet to look up a holiday for September, I hope i can afford it, I don’t care if I can’t, the thought of the holiday compensates for the 6:30 alarm, the N7 traffic etc etc etc.

    You’re taking your old man out on Sunday and again on Wednesday, these are highlights to savour and look forward to. The drudge exists, but it’s place is the background of like, friends, family and Gus belong in the forefront where your concentration belongs. If the drudge is overpowering remember, deal with an issue/problem with 4 ‘C’s

    1. Connect with the issue.
    2. Curiousity will drive you to investigate.
    3. Challenge the problems relevance.
    4. Change the behaviour that is causing the issue.

    As ever, love you lots

    Dad

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