It’s the most basic question. In this world where the days are currently endless, what do we do to make them meaningful? I see warnings of the end coming and when it does, having a life with meaning will be redundant. But until then – what do I do?
The older we get, the safer that question becomes. You’re not asking because you want to know about personal lives – in fact, sober and in the light of day, personal lives scare us. We are automatons, we do our jobs, what do we do? So goes the days of the west, getting up in the morning, trudging our way in, sludging through the hours, trying to wake up long enough to do something other than stuff your face at lunchtime, then it’s ok there’s only a few hours until quitting time. Back home. Can’t head out, in work tomorrow.
Being angry at the shape of our days doesn’t really do an awful lot, does it? It can help that feeling of rage and discontent fester in your heart, sapping the energy and joy from you as you repeat and repeat, pledging that each weekend will be different from the last, going out on Friday and losing half of Saturday. Oh look, that’s what we did last weekend. Wait, what do you mean it’s Sunday? And here we go again. We’re off, we’re in, we’re trapped. Let the first world problems commence. You have too much work to do? I have none.
Try to remember that you should feel lucky to have the job because it pays your rent. Then you look at your bank account and you see your debts. You wonder how the hell they got so high, what did you spend the money on, when the next payslip is coming and are you going to make it? Here in this country, after the soulless landlords take their cut, we live in fear of going near a bar for fear of losing €100 a night just to get a buzz on. Drink at home. Sometime we don’t even need company. Have a second bottle of wine. Port is my poison. Two bottles of that will lay you out flat.
Being aware of all of this doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this world. We have to pay our rent. We have to pay for our phones, for our internet, for transport, cars, gym memberships we don’t use and travel plans to stave away the boredom. Off we go, another holiday, just a weekend so it’s fine! Then it’s nearly €1000 in and oh sweet fuck, I’m on bread and water til payday. Again. Feeling trapped yet?
Try something new – let’s be frugal – let’s spend nothing and clear those debts! Brilliant, I’ve done it, now I’m down to…. nope, at this point the debt collectors are having a bit of a laugh, slipping into my account and taking taking taking, just enjoying their time really. Oh well it’s ok, I’ll spend it before they can get it. Genius move. Back we are again.
The days change. The mood shifts. The sun comes out and we can walk, we can absorb, we can enjoy the heat. But it shifts and the rain comes down. Bright and yellow sunshine turns inexorably into the iron grey that we here in Ireland know better than any other. What do we do when the sky betrays us again? A day is coming when it will betray us for the last time, but until that moment, do we simply cherish and love every second that we are sent? If that were something we could just do, then wouldn’t this world be a wonderful place? Wouldn’t we all be wonderful people?
In the morning I will awake again and I will start the cycle again. I will go about the hours that are no longer mine until someone else has taken those breaths of life from me and then I will be spat back into the relative freedom of waiting for the next day. My choice will be sit inside and watch television until the mind fades. It will be sit down and write, streaming through another rant and series of complaints, spewing the same old weary words into the world until someone, just one person, sends a positive message, a thumbs up, a like even. Or will it be sit in the dark until the moon goes up and down, the dawn arrives and oh look, those stolen hours fade away again.
I am positivity. I am the upbeat. I am the one who finds the silver lining. So why can’t I do it anymore? Why do I struggle so hard to see a benefit to this life of unending irrelevance? I know I am not alone. I look around and I see downcast faces in the daylight, stifled laughter passing into deafening silence. I see the bright hope on the faces of children and rather than a joy for their futures I feel despair for what they are about to face. I tell myself that no one knows the future but as I see the inbox tray grow higher and higher, I know that whatever future there is, however long it is, it will be determined by those who pay the bills, who hire the bodies, who stamp out the individuality of those who would dream.
We are each of this on this world alone. We can be alone together and there is beauty in that. But when those walls build between us, when those bricks laid by the inaction and cruel dispassion of others grow too tall for us to see over, we sit in our solitude. I don’t want this to be the case. I have grown taller and I can see just over the top of that wall. But I have shrunk in the past and I never shake the fear of shrinking again. I see lovers. I see friends. I see family. They all sit in their cubicles of life, slouching while someone looks down on them. Someone. Not always a one in reality, sometimes the many, sometimes the imagined but no less real.
We gave up our dreams to live in the real world. We betrayed those children that wanted to be dancers, doctors, astronauts, zookeepers, circus performers, singers. We told them it wasn’t sensible. We told them it wasn’t realistic. We know the truth. Most of them will end up at a desk, typing into a spreadsheet the facts and figures of utter mediocrity. What do we say to them when they’re older and they look at us, asking ‘Why? Why did you lie to me?’
What do we say to the child in the mirror?
Can we give them hope? Do we lie, and fake it til we make it? Do we have the energy? I want to say yes, but it’s late and I have work in the morning. Maybe I’ll lie to them tomorrow. Maybe.
Oh, I’ll survive. That moment is still far off in the future. Or maybe it’s in the next few minutes. Do any of us really know? Shouldn’t we cherish everything, see it as vivid as we see those imagined futures?
Do you have that report done yet?
Well. Wouldn’t it be nice to dream?
Hit refresh. Update the sheet. This is no time for dreaming.