A bare week later and the mood has changed. Gone are the visions of a cliff’s edge, so often appearing in the mind, complete with the crashing of a wave and the cries of a falling gull, set to the blood red sun setting in the distance. That romantic image of the end is replaced now with a calm idolatry, a peace in the city that wasn’t there before. It is a world where drivers let the others pass, where pedestrians wait for the light, where smiles replace grimaces and the cries are set in the murmur of a friendly conversation. It’s a fallacy, this image. But it’s as real to me now as the other one was last week.
I pass faces every day, some interacting and some simply acknowledging. It’s a world with experience, with viewpoints, with the thoughts of billions of people, all seeing the way things are as the paths they’re on. To each their own, a home, a place to hear thoughts and words of hope. We don’t always pay attention to this side of the world. There are so many screaming children on this side and that, tossing threats to each other like those keeping away. A bomb here, a prisoner there, all together now: my dick is smaller than yours, and I can prove it faster! This is what we see in the news day after day, pushing away the little things, the smallest acts of kindness and hope, of love and generosity. We fall and we fall, we sink into ‘the way things are’ without sparing time for the way things can be, the way things should be.
We are all of us on the express ride to the other side. This is a train with one destination, for every man, woman, neither and both. That’s not news. That’s not the changing force of power. There are those on the train who want to pull the rip chords and there are those on the train who know how to jump off sooner. It keeps moving. It keeps going. The train don’t care and don’t stop just anywhere. It’s going to keep chugging along long after I find my stop. Long after they find theirs. So what’s the point in fighting it?
Not one week ago my hand gripping the door frame and I looked out onto the rushing fields below. Either stay on board and eventually be pushed off, or leap now and land in what comes next. A simple choice, the last choice normally. I chose to stay on the train. I’m sitting now in a chair just like any other, awake, aware, sipping water and watching the time fly by. I’m doing this with, if not a smile, then at least contentment, happy now to sit and see where the train leads. But in this contentment and in this space, I see the big and bad, bulling away, making the others listen.
Billions of heads are turned in few directions. This one says this, that one shouts back. A third one chimes in and the next one grins. On and on it goes, person to person, fool to fool, leader to leader. Clown to the left of me, joker to the right. It should be funny. We should pass them over and move on. But we gave them the power. As we sat in the carriage and slipped deeper and deeper into our sets, cushioned on velvet dreams of hope and despair, we let them big ole boys take the centre stage. Let them do the heavy lifting we said, we just want to sleep, to dream, to turn heads, to chase the Devil. We want the abstract, the self, the ego. We want our existence to be our own. Let those clods do whatever they want. Doesn’t bother me.
But it does. How many times do we look at the world and know in our hearts its gone so far? What can I do, we ask, as we close our eyes and wait for it to end. We. All of us. Me. You. Everyone. We just want those loud and stupid people to shut up and fuck off. But we put them there. The apathy of the world has taken a severe shaking in recent years. We watched the climate changed. We still drive cars and smoke and burn and kill and rape and pollute and hey I’ll have a Big Mac, a Whopper, a bucket, a Coke. It’s not me, I didn’t do it, it’s not my fault. What can one person do?
This is a world shaped by your perception of what happens around you. There are the people at the top who will do what they can to stay there. What can I do? There are those who will sit at a desk and control the fates of billions with the click of a pen and the push of a button. What can I do? There are those who don’t need anything so grandiose as the wars that plague us all. There are those that will simply end another’s experience because they don’t like them. What can I do? What can any of us do?
The world is dying. The train is chugging but it’s slowing down. Those of us, those mad bastards, that choose to stay on board need to mind our surroundings. It may be a track that leads to nowhere fast. Chucking ourselves from the moving carriage may simply speed oblivion, running the clock down to zero a little faster than others. But right now, on the tracks this train is on, it’s all headed in the same way. We will burn. We will drown. Our children will not survive their lifespan. The animals of this world, those with infinite diversity and majesty, will die in their millions while we feast on their flesh. We are faced with a choice.
We are back to the fork in the road.
I choose to stay on board the train. The option to leap from the carriage will always be there for me. I have my out card. But for now, that door is sealed. On board, I want the train to continue moving. In the tracks, not too far ahead of me, there is a fork approaching. One leads to a long, long track and the other to a very short one. The shorter one runs underwater before finishing in a shattered eddy of rock and bone. To take this path is to sit in my chair, reading my headlines, asking myself what I can do, and sighing as the train veers toward it. I hear the ice cracking. I hear the grounds baking. I hear the lives ending. I do nothing. We plunge. We perish. What can I do?
The other track is the only option for those that want the train to keep on moving. We are all of us on this express ride to the other side. If we want that ride to last a little longer, then we need to wake up. Break the apathy, shake it off like the clouds of mist holding our minds. Open our eyes. Breathe in. Stand up.
Of all the worlds out there, we share this one.
What can I do?
What can I do?