Amateur musings on love, sadness and the meaninglessness of life
Restless evenings lead to restless dreams
Dreams teased out over a dozen hours of circular soul gazing
I sought fun with a side of movement and light
I emerged full of questions
Questions that I had answered in the maze, and lost again
Questions for the universe
Questions for a lover
Questions to myself
This question of existence, the answer lies so simply on a half inch square, covered in swirls of rainbow haze
The mind melts, a chemical reaction, and your memories become misshapen
How poignantly the moments blend into one another, in a loop of light and sound and waves of remembered feeling
How meaningless they all become
Caricatures of greater things, parodies of an idea
It's all been done before...
In that moment of clarity my laughter rings out, cutting through the absurd parade
Relief that all the hurt ultimately means nothing
And comforted too. That this pain is universal and formless
Then just as swift it shifts again
From the crimson sparks of ecstasy into shades of blue
A blue that paints the ego grey
We exist in a void of our own; the outside a mere construct.
Whatever reality lies beyond our fingertips is a reality that is severed from us - our mind is king!
How we feel, as false as it is, can only be true
And so, as always, I return to love
The love I feel, if that is love, this fury of obsession and desire and burning rage
I understand now, a little, of what went wrong
It was wrong from the start
It was never wrong at all
I made it too important, and it scorched the earth
There was not enough fuel in our bodies and hearts to sustained such desperate desire
So probably, it wasn't anything more than that
I understand. I do.
But it doesn’t change what I want and where I am
The journey leaves me scarred
A curse of intimate glances and whispered secrets
I want the result to be different
I care not for the reasons why, all the balm in the world does not change the fact that my heart still quickens when I hear your name, and stops when I see your face
I hold a love that is unreturned; wasted; spilt on the driveway
This pain, this inconsequential, solitary pain is a black hole that smother all sources of light
It's all chemical
It's only chemical.
The energy of life is green
Green, fresh and bristling. Like running your hands over creped paper folds
Uneven edges on your fingertips
Devoid of feeling, but sharp and acrid on your tongue
Like eye drops clearing the haze
Suddenly everything is new and vibrant again
And that is enough to sustain past the blue and red, for a little longer
Rebirth, renewal and onto the next
I’ve been listening to, nay obsessing over Go Farther in Lightness, the all-round excellent album by Gang of Youths, and having a moment of inspired kinship. I’ve always been obsessed with this feeling of resonance, of seeing your thoughts and feelings expressed by someone whose life has never intersected with yours. Listening to Go Farther in Lightness is like listening to my diary entries. The album progresses from anguish and despair to hope and acceptance to an indescribable sense of oneness. The album deals with themes of loss and loneliness and depression but Dave Le’aupepe concludes that in the face of all that terribleness, you should choose to be courageous and life-affirming.
Le’aupepe’s lyrics are dotted with philosophical references, reflective of his keen interest in the subject. Perhaps that’s why this album spoke to me. The ideas are not new, but the frame of reference is one I know, so short verses piggyback off existing bodies of work, speaking volumes far greater than what is on the page. The most obvious thread are all the existential musings and throwbacks.
My first encounter with existentialism was in second year philosophy at uni. Like all young philosophy undergrads, I was immediately drawn to Nietzsche and his quotable aphorisms seething with anger and cynicism. The format of his writings and his changing perspective rendered his work open to all kinds of misinterpretation and misappropriation. I didn’t really understand existentialism then. I romanticised death and was fascinated with all these rebellious notions and so I self-identified as a nihilist for the cool factor. I thought it added to the image I was building of the slightly heartless goth girl. But despair was foreign to me at 19. I was young and hopeful, my eyes bright with all the possibilities life offered and I was confident of my place in the world.
10 years on and I still identify as a nihilist, albeit an optimistic one. Depression has stained my world, and even now on the other side I don’t see anything in the same way anymore. I’ve become softer, kinder, and more unsure. The breakdowns threw out my balance and I stopped believing in things. I felt that nothing mattered, I don’t matter and everything that anyone does is ultimately meaningless, cyclical, and pathetic. It was the dawning of existential despair, and in the absence of purpose tethering me to the world, I crashed.
I can’t remember the exact moment the colour came back. But sometime about 2 years ago things got better, they clicked back into place. The world is still devoid of purpose, and we are still doomed in our absurd Sisyphean task of trying to find meaning in a meaningless world. But like the conclusion Camus came to, I was okay with it. I answered the philosophical question of suicide with a resounding affirmation of life. I am human. This is the framework and the limitation I have to live with, and if my humanness means I need hope and romance and what is, metaphysically, false inspiration, then contentment will come after I accept it and move on.
Peace didn’t come all at once, it was a process triggered in stages by failures and successes, by heartbreak and kinship. I learned to revel in my negative emotions, to ride out the rolling waves of self-hate and fear and not just repress them. I’ve always been good at joy, but the bad I’ve always run away from. Now I see their value. Pain is the surest proof of our existence. Pain is an emotional high that distracts from the doldrums of everyday sameness. In this process I realised I was doing what Nietzsche preached, I was inventing meaning. I choose what matters and what to value. I choose the people to keep close and to let in. I choose to hold people in high esteem, to forgive their failings, and to believe in good intentions. I choose to be kind, always to others and then hopefully also to myself. We are all the same underneath, feigning confidence but really absolutely clueless and unsure about what’s going on. This solidarity with the human condition is a relief, and the absence of meaning is liberation. The world feels less foreign now. I’ve resigned myself to the often uncomfortable task of living and I’m okay, happy even.
That which is lacking. All these aimless days spent wishing I was accomplishing something.
Intention and follow through. How dramatic the gap, how disappointing the difference.
Like the climax scene in 500 Days of Summer. Juxtaposition between hopeful, rosy-coloured expectations and the dim grey thud of reality.
I’m on a plane at this very moment. Exhaustion, anxiety, and a million little life worries swirl as I watch ‘Ex Machina’ on the in-flight entertainment unit. The film is a slow-burner thought piece on the nature on humanity in the AI age. As has been the fashion, the AI has been conceived as a beautiful female femme fatale. A commentary on the inescapable sexuality of man; or an unwitting disclosure of the pervasive fetishism of the auteur?
Thoughts, deep and swirling, chasing the rabbit; but only whilst its on the surface, because as soon as it burrows down a hole I can spot another in the distance.
If these short bursts of thought are rabbits, then M is the Sun. Always in the background, illuminating and warming my days. M would also be the earth, he lies at the end of every rabbit hole. Thoughts of him are eternal and persistent, like white noise, inescapable, indelible. M is the natural conclusion of every thought, like a Mobius loop, round and round it goes. Obsession, infatuation, desire. Suffocating and energizing at the same time. Undulating waves of mania and loss.
I wanted to kiss him goodbye. I want to see him again.
What is the nature of humanity? What is real? If we feel, is that enough? Is it this metaphysical body or some preternatural concept of a human soul? If humanity is not predicated on that, if humanity is nothing more than the human spirit: conscious thought, dreams of the future, desire, insecurities, fears…love. If humanity is merely the sum of our intangible parts, then perhaps we can build it.
What an ego we have. Of all the dreams in all the universe, we preoccupy ourselves with the labour of essentially replicating ourselves. So convinced are we that humanity is special, unique, that we devote our resources to mimicry; Turing tests and the like to rank what is more or less human.
Movies have a structure, three acts leading to a climax. It cannot be a rambling 2 hour Socratic debate about the epistemology of intelligence. It needs conflict, villains, tension. And so, as the film nears its conclusion, it devolves into a psychological thriller. Uncanny, eerie and almost Lynchian dreamscape.
I am tired too
Of things that break
And things that end
Nothing lasts forever
But I wish I could have
Something that lasts just a little bit longer
Something to look forward to
Just for a moment
Just a little bit
The edges are fraying
And the dark spills over
And I wish there was something to show on the outside
what the insides are like
You tear little pieces off
With every little look
And careless gesture
It means more to me than it does to you
And I want to hold on
I should leave
I need to go
But there is comfort here
And I am still pathetically hopeful.
12 months I disappeared from existence. Not the first time I’ve done it, but this time it was more complete, more determined. I threw away my phone, I stopped going to work, refused offers of support. This was the first time I was able to admit that I had a problem and what it was. This was the first time I could identify what the problem was.
That's why even though this is technically the second depressive episode I had experienced in the last decade, it felt more momentous. I knew what was happening as it was happening, and so I had the framework and words necessary to analyze my feelings and then afterwards the words to record it.
In many ways I was a cliché. I had a ‘depressive personality’; prone to bouts of melodramatic introspection and more likely to hold feelings in and wallow in the tragedy of it than to seek solutions or clarity.
When I reached out, the first thing many people said was: “I thought you were dead”. I wonder now what the truth behinds those words were. Did they think some terrible accident befell me? Or was it that they thought I had been the engineer and executioner of my own demise?
The truth is that, even in the darkest dark, I had not considered suicide. I have no problem with death, no fear of life ending. However, my despair was not anguish or terrible and present pain, it was a lack of colour. It was a lack of desire to live, a lack of energy and care. Everything existed and yet it was all meaningless. I felt powerless and insignificant, and in turn that was what I became. It was standing in a grey out hollow and having the world fade away to a dull background echo.
I no longer wanted things. Apathy was my world. Every moment was a struggle to summon enough care to do any action: to get out of bed, to shower, to eat, to speak, to breathe. So it was with death. It did occur to me that life would be less of a bore if it all just ended. However I lacked the will to make that option a reality. I am alive because I didn’t care enough to die.
Maybe that make my depression less than? I’ve always been envious of the capacity of artists to feel. It isn't the product of their expression that fills me with wonder, but the great emotions for which they were at one point a conduit.
Even the pain, and all the suffering. It is all desirable. Perhaps only someone who has experienced the dull grey nothing of my brand of depression would wish for something like this. Because to suffer, how can that be desirous by any metric.
I am thankful I am alive. Enduring past the pain is what allowed me the chance to experience all the highs and lows that came after. Even heartbreak is worthwhile. It is a high, and it feels a bit like tempting the devil. I was so cold in my bubble that even all the crying and angst of unrequited love feels like a worthy endeavour. Pain is the strongest reminder of our existence, and nothing cuts quite as sharp as love unreturned. There are no wrong choices, but if you wait and walk through the the despair you will find new life on the other side.
I am aware of all the things I will never have. All the firsts that I am too old for. All the barriers erected by nothing more than my own biases. But as long as I live there is an opportunity for something. Maybe not the thing I most desire, but perhaps something close, something unexpected.
Is it selfish that where others have focused their revelatory musings about suicide on the pain you cast on others, but my epiphany is self-centric? There are no answers. Perhaps I simply don't believe that anyone will truly grieve for me. That's a whole other suitcase of insecurity to unpack.
Since this year has been about an exploration of my emotions, I should endeavor to better write them.
How do things make me feel?
Looking back, my musings are thoughtful, analytical, descriptive, but it doesn't convey emotion.
Need I perhaps to step back. Not just to describe the moment, but to attempt to teach it - I want the reader to feel as I did.
The question is how? My writings are too immature to truly be poetry. The forms are off, the rhythm lacking. But imagery and metaphor, they are not constrained by meter and rhyme. Perhaps this intention is enough to begin.
I live in awe of the amazing talents in this world, constantly putting out new thoughts and works. Somewhere during my aimless meander through life I’ve lost this ability.
But I can try. It isn’t too late. I may have lost the opportunity to reach the apex of talent but I can still make things that are new and beautiful and true.
The thing is, creations doesn’t need to be perfect to move people. Sometimes there is solace and solidarity to be found in half formed stumblings.
But it does need to be published. Someone outside myself has to share in the creation. If it is just me, sitting here and reading back on my own thoughts and feelings, then it's just an echo chamber of self-indulgence. And, if it benefits no one else, then I am not giving back to this world from which I have taken so much.
So I shall direct my existential wails into the abyss and hope that silence isn’t the only thing that answers back.