A Quiet Life

What’s a quiet life, to you?

If the first thought that sprung to your mind is … a comfortable retirement?

Comfortable retirement. Dancing in the living room. Through the dining room. Tap on the shoulder in the kitchen, lit only by a lamp and the shadows of the plants behind his back moving as they sway gently across the hall. Lines deepening on faces, death followed by new life. Leaves falling and blooming again. Piercing cries in the night, but this time they belong to the generation below their progeny so they sleep a little deeper. Urgency no longer beckons them in their dreams, it does not sit on their shoulders anymore and they do not hear it when they are in the shower. Piercing cries. Precious baby they can love without shackles.

What is a quiet life… to you?

Oh, you there. Yes you. I see it in your eyes.

Your quiet life is still. Even in the chaos there is a dark stillness that shrouds your heart as you wander slowly through a crowded hall with two beautiful loves clinging to your skirts, and you see those who are like you, but not like you, and you feel on the fringes again.

Urgency calls you.

It’s a silent kitchen is a quiet life.

Voiceless.

Echo.

Empty buildings, the sun setting and slanting through the dusty glass and the road outside is still, dry, dust pooling on the pavements because..

Nobody calls you.

You grow alone and you may die alone.

That’s a quiet life.

And there is frustration because you have always felt this deep chasm of loneliness. And you thought it would go away. In your teens you waited. In your twenties you yearned. And you approach 30 and it’s banging on your door this desolation and it won’t go away.

You tell yourself, your mother, your people.. you tell them you’re cosy in this cocoon of isolation.

But you aren’t.

You aren’t.

You worry this will seep through the invisible gossamer veil that hangs delicately between you and your children, you worry it will shroud them too like a clingy web that won’t go away.

You don’t want this sadness to be theirs. This loneliness to ache in their chest. Their precious hopeful faces.

You don’t want a quiet life for them.

So you aren’t. Cosy. Happy. Content.

What is your quiet life?

Alone

I’m alone.

I have been thinking about a lot of things lately. I am just going to say them.

Humanity is so vast and complicated. There is a deep sadness underlying everything. Every kiss is tinged in sadness, every touch, every hug. People can walk around preaching happiness and laughter but underneath it all is this deep violet blanket of sadness. And when they are alone, and the world dims behind a shut door, this sad reality begins to sink in.

We are all going to die. Some of us might die horrible deaths. Some of us might kill ourselves. I was washing dishes with cold water and staring out at two little boys in the street, kicking a ball around for hours in the cloudy sunshine, and I thought, how could somebody kill themselves?

And when somebody does kill themselves, they spark a tremor in the earth. People are devastated. We have to be kind to each other, they shout, we have to connect, we have to help the lonely people.

But what about the ostracised people? The people who walk around towns wearing a headscarf and feel desolate and lonely because they don’t know anybody, and everybody stares at them with suspicion because they represent a religion so often stamped with the labels of murder and bloodshed. What about the people who look different or act different and are targeted because of it?

It is so strange. I am alone. All my family members are thousands of miles away from me and it feels so strange. I scroll through their photos on my phone and smile at their frozen smiles, my mind is with them at that time and place but my mind doesn’t exactly know where their minds are at that moment. I think technology and the internet has made us come to expect that knowledge will come to us; so we become impatient.

I went out for a walk today and I did not like my town. I did not like the hostility. The stench of alcohol and cigarettes. I look at the drab way people are dressed and the way their bottoms show because their jeans are hiked low, and the way they down can after can of beer, and I think, oh for the days of yore. The days when people dressed modestly and looked like they had dignity.

I bet they didn’t stink.

Then I stopped for a moment and really thought about it. Of course they stank. They didn’t have proper running water. They published articles about showering once a month, and some once a year if they could get away with it. Their streets were piled high with horse manure and urine and flies infested their cities. They drank plenty of alcohol and smoked far more than we do. Their women had to fight to be seen as HUMAN BEINGS in the court room, and were killed trying to demonstrate for a right to vote. A right to freaking VOTE.

They stank and it wasn’t just a physical stench.

Humanity is a thousand shades, and not just black and white. Things are not just right and wrong. There are a thousand clauses in between and reasons and rules and methods and situations and circumstances.

And we just have to plough on through it all and try to keep our heads above water.

Well. I am alone. And I don’t think humans were created to be alone. Adam had a wife called Eve. They had children. Even Adam couldn’t be alone.

I also think one shouldn’t be alone with their thoughts too often. That is dangerous. People need other people.

 

Do You Ever Wonder?

Do you ever wonder why you are walking somewhere.

Watching the clouds scud by, or the rain bounce off leaves and splatter onto the ground, or the trees swooshing in symphony, wind rushing through their tops, transporting you to an entire new universe of sound, of hugeness, a feeling of being quite small against the forces of the world.

Sometimes it will be a vast Arabian desert flying past the dusty windows of a Chevy Suburban, patches of sparse, pale green scattered here and there, camels breaking the dead heaviness of the summer heat, their shadows stark and black against the vivid orange sand.

Sometimes it will be the blank wall beside your bed. You will notice the little holes left by the paint bubbles from the last hurried paint job. They look like the craters you see on drawings of the surface of the moon, only these are smooth, more refined. You might see ancient drawings, done in faint pencil, small bows and flowers and little anime figures. You may notice the paint bumps that always cover painted walls, and then as your eyes focus in and out of concentration, you will finally see the faces.

Shocked, your raging thoughts will fade for a while as you try to connect the funny shapes together, your fascination awakened as the details begin to emerge. Look, you think, a pretty girl. Oh no! Oh dear, it’s a deformed old man with a large nose. Now it’s a baby in a cradle, a man in tails with a crocodile face, a boy with crazy hair.. then your eyes start to wander and discover faces in everything else, the curtain patterns, the carpet, the folds in the quilt. Very soon, however, your interest wanes. You are weary of seeking out faces. Your thoughts, which were a faint, crackling background murmur, suddenly surge in volume, clamouring for your attention, grasping at your emotions.

You know, dearest reader, that you are an entire universe within another universe containing 7 billion other universes just like yours, but also very different from yours? You have your world, and your world looks just so, to you, and you walk about, meeting folk, thinking things, all the while assuming that your world is the same world as everybody else’s.

“Our world,” you say solemnly, a mug of steaming coffee in hand, “is in dire need of a makeover.” And you take a sip, your eyes watching your conversation partner as they respond.

You say ‘our world’ as though you see identical terrains.

They’re not, though, are they? Each and every one of us is seeing things through the screens of our own personal universes.