This was the third in my experimental fragmentary autobiographical novels. It was primarily concerned with death. I had reached an amazing fifty three years of age and was aware that time appeared to be flying past ever faster. I was concerned that I might not be able to fit it all in. I had been forced to give up playing football and was aware of aches, pains and unfitness.
When I approached 60 I took up a fitness campaign, lost forty pounds and now I am definitely going to live for ever.
Here is an extract. I hope you like it:
53 and Imploding
I am 53 years old. That astonishes me. I am growing old. Already my body aches and shows a strange inability to co-ordinate itself and a lack of suppleness that makes me almost doddery. I am overweight and unfit and have little desire to be otherwise. I am constantly tired. The wild creature of my youth is a crazy rampaging fool I envy but am detached from. I am fast becoming an old fool. Ah, that we have lived so long to see our dreams destroyed.
Seconds. Can’t you feel them ticking. Seconds.
I can’t write ends. What is an end? Nothing ends. I can only attempt to write beginnings. Even that is absurd. I can write in seconds. All of them are now. Each second is an action; a thought; an idea; a memory; an almighty beginning and an almighty end.
There is nothing in the past. Even my memories are new. They are events seen through these old eyes, thought through these old neurones. Each memory is refined and twisted. We remember the bits we want and some of the bits that we don’t want but most is tossed into the sea of forever. We have no history but the one we build for ourselves.
Seconds? How many left? A few? A few hundred? A few million? It’s not he seconds that count; it’s what you fill them with.
I love old things: rocks; buildings; trees. I love old things because they speak to me of forever.
It’s strange how we conveniently forget. We build huge cities and think they will stand forever. We excavate old cities and wonder at their splendour without realising that all our cities will burn, be toppled and forgotten. New cultures may wonder over them and marvel at our cunning – the things we have done with our seconds.
This is how we filled our seconds.
We are not forever. We are only a second in forever, a blink, a swearword, a gasp and gone. We may only ever see a few of the countless zillions of stars blink out. In time they all will run down like drained batteries and the lights will go out. They’ll be no one around to pull the cord or flick the switch.
Ha. Ha. Ha. I laugh at your vanity of forever. What a fool it makes of you. Genuflection. It takes seconds.
Cunt and death – a bit too simplistic as a summary of importance. It’s the things you do with your seconds that makes the difference. Do you live your life with merit? Is each second of choice well decided? Is there purpose in your existence or do you drool and stagger round like cattle? ‘Pretty cool here. Get pissed, get stoned, fuck and dress to impress.’
Fine lines – there are fine lines between cool and fool, smart and fart, bright and shite.
Fun comes before the fall. Fuck your mind and fuck your heart. Yet it matters not – pleasures taken carelessly or considered – excess or moderation – purpose and pomposity. It’s all the same worms, same stars blinking, same journey, and same end.
No. It is not where you are going that matters. Religion has really fucked up there. It’s the journey. It’s the way you travel that matters. It’s what you do with all those seconds you are busy squandering. Now don’t get me wrong. At the end of a story who is to say if the hero, villain or bit player had the most worthy part to play? Who’s to judge the value of a few seconds spend watching football on the telly, reading a novel or writing.
I choose to write. I pluck these words from the holes in my brain. The novel is dead. There are no stories. There are no beginnings and ends. Reality is continuous.
There is only sharing. I am sharing some thoughts in a one way conversation for no purpose other than to stimulate response. I shall not be aware of that response as likely as not there will be no one to read this and if anyone ever does I’ll likely be already dead. That makes me smile. Still it has the same validity as you watching Brazilians juggle bladders immaculately.
That is the essence. Whatever you do with, or in those seconds we call life, make each one of them a honed jewel. They all count. Do it with all your spirit.
I am writing into a mirror. There are no pretty stories, no vignettes, no cameos and no ends. Even the very end, when the whole universe is a bunch of cold cinders and dissipated heat, will go on forever.
This is not a beginning. This is not even the middle. This is merely somewhere down the road.
I am a watcher. I spend a lot of my time watching the people around me going about their life and looking for some signs of intelligence, understanding, planning; even a few hints of consciousness might be a novelty. I can make no sense of it. I can see no sense in it. The more I study them, all caught up in their tiny lives, the more they appear like termites in a huge termitarium, building ever more grand mounds, rushing around doing important things earnestly, importantly, frivolously, while a forest fire rushes towards them. I look around at the different mounds and see that they really believe each one will last forever. I look back across a huge flat plain of history littered with mounds that did not last forever. We live in the outer atmosphere of the sun.
I am the watcher. I don’t expect much. Some purpose would be nice, perhaps an aim or two, something to work towards, some greater purpose than self-aggrandisement. After all there’s enough to get your teeth into. We could set about proving Jesus wrong by eradicating poverty. We could make a fool out of Malthus by solving the population problem. We could save all those hundreds of thousands of species destined to die. We could end pollution, solve the energy crisis, transport dilemma, end all wars or simply protect the erosion of our environment. Oh, there’s no end to the possibility and scope that we are presented with. On the face of it we are, of course, doing precisely that. Pompous politicians set out plans to tackle this problem and that, seven-year plans, ten year plans. But I am the watcher. I see the money being siphoned off, the pockets being lined; I see the extravagant life styles as those that purport to be solving the problems set themselves up; I watch the political juggling as they build and protect their power base and defend themselves. One set of politics against another – intrigue – manipulation -dirty tricks – undermining – power struggles – wealth – opulence. Amidst it all the purpose is lost and the problems mount up. Nothing is solved. We act like termites building bigger piles, seizing thrones and gaining followings. In amongst the amassing and gaining the problems go on and we continue to prove fucking Jesus right.
I am fifty-three. I am comfortable and secure. Perhaps that is the problem? I’ve got something to loose. I can see those seconds ticking. I can see them. The ones that have ticked and the ones to be ticked – they have conspired to trap me here.
How the fuck can you be happy?
Even as you read this millions are starving, getting ill and dying. The numbers of humans are soaring, forests are being chopped down, and animals are being tortured and killed.
How can you be happy when people are being blown apart in wars? When stupid money grabbing corporations are deliberately sewing landmines to blow peoples’ legs off?
How can you be happy when the air is full of carbon dioxide, sulphurous oxides and nitrous oxides; while ozone is being destroyed by CFCs? When water is contaminated by sewage, mercury and radioactive isotopes; our food is full of pesticides and herbicides and the land is eroding and saturated with a cocktail of harmful chemicals? When species are being eradicated faster than at any time in history?
How can you be happy when inequality creates such extremes? When history is littered with the horrors of the rich and powerful? When all life is hollow and the rich and powerful pull the strings and all they want is more power and wealth and they don’t give a fuck for you, the seas, forests or wild-life?
How can you be happy when religions all claim they are the only way, there is but one God or many Gods and they will fight to the death to prove it and convert you.
How can you be happy when every single thing you see and hear is lying propaganda? – When you are being manipulated as a consumer, a member of a target group, a potential voter, a potential problem. Know your place and shop.
How can you be happy when each new panacea for the world’s problems is a system run by leaders with vested interests who cannot be trusted?
How can you be happy when the aim of dominant males is to dominate even if that means annihilating everything as long as they end up top dog. Better to be undisputed leader of the last ten rather that a leader of a billion among many leaders of billions or even one other leader.
How can you be happy when your life is all about owning a third DVD player, another TV and a swish car and feel shit because your phone is the wrong colour, shape or size? When you are obsessed with the label on your clothes, your body shape and muscle definition?
How can you be happy when the world is being covered in concrete, corporations buy off politicians, MacDonalds has a branch on the Amazon and music is a product?
How can art be a commodity?
How can you be happy when nobody cares about the 600 Mountain Gorillas so that a rich millionaire can pay a fortune to get hunters to kill three precious gorillas in order to capture a baby so he can have it for a pet?
How can you be happy when a moronic footballers salary is hundreds of thousands a week, stupid selfish, greedy Rock Stars, actors and actresses earn millions and babies lie bloated for want of a bowl of rice? A millionaire buys a trip on a spaceship.
How can you be happy when you’re sitting there gloating, smug, arrogant, superior and pampered, thinking that your wealth, power, beliefs, abilities, intelligence, make you superior. Don’t you realise that you’re a rich, wealthy, arrogant, empty fool whose whole life is built on greed and is utterly, destructively hollow. You are no better or worse than the green slime on my pond, except the green slime performs a worthwhile function. You selfishly exist to make your stupid self feel important. Are you cultured? – Knowledgeable and superior? Pah!
How can you be happy living in this pointless little existence?
How can you be happy putting you £2 sop into Oxfam when government policy necessitates the starving of millions for the good of the economy? When the G7 could eradicate poverty and inequality if they wanted but it might mean you can only afford three tellies and one car.
How can you be happy with so many little nations all spending their wealth on defence and obsequious religion instead of solving problems, limiting population and living in peace and harmony with each other and the environment?
You can create and not destroy you know? You can be part of the solution.
How can you be happy when it could all be so different? When we could limit our numbers, clean up our act, leave enough natural environment for the rest of life and build societies more tolerant and equal? When we could look around us, appreciate the simple things and be sensitive, pleasant, helpful beings leading creative lives, harnessing science and technology for the good of all life and protecting our delicate planet. You could look in wonder, paint, dance, sing, write and do a million things.
We could have a future as well as a past.
Does death scare you?
The universe is so big that your ego doesn’t even have the significance of a speck of dust; your intelligence is laughable; your Leah jet can’t get you there and your wealth can’t buy a single star. Your beliefs won’t gain you a second more and your possessions will decay.
The only good thing is that one day all traces of us will cease to exist and your place in the history of the universe will be as if you had never breathed.
All we have to play with is the present. We can build futures. We can stop suffering. We can care. Surely that is a worthwhile aim?
I hear the ticking. Each tap on this keyboard could have been spent differently. I continue to tap until something more important comes along. I would like to see what that might be.
I would like to be happy. I continue to send reports from the termitarium. These are the sermons on the mound.
Opher 26.5.02 8.5.02 2.7.02