There is a woman standing behind me in the supermarket queue. She looks pretty, seems nice. She smiles at me when I tell her I will be back in a moment and run off to grab a bunch of bananas that will lose their spray-tan yellowness and blacken overnight. J is scanning her goods in the self-checkout section. I want to say something to the woman. The supermarket is almost empty, a rare opportunity is in front of me. I’m wearing the bespoke black coat that J got me for Christmas (I cried when I tried it on, felt it was too good for me); there is no vodka among my groceries (I stocked up the day before); above all, I am terminally lonely. But I say nothing, expertly bag my things, punch in my four-digit pin code, go find J, plunge into despair on the way home. I cannot even speak as we stop at the usual spot to part ways. J takes out her phone to check the total: “8.56km,” she says. More than usual, then, distance and despair-wise.
We had deviated from our usual park or riverside route and ventured into the city centre. The sight of so many people disturbs me; the prospect of all that untapped love maddens me. I am becoming a modern-day troglodyte, slowly dying out from despair and loneliness as pretty pictures of things that are not and will never be flicker uselessly against the dank, domed walls of my brain.
I cough up my musty-smelling secret, flush it down the toilet. I try to remember the face of the woman in the supermarket but she was nothing more than a female abstraction. She would find me interesting, maybe even attractive, but she would not be able to cope with my daily demolition of the make-believe world we inhabit for the sake of comfort and perpetuating our genetic code. Nature plays puppeteer with us; it bounces us up and down in beds, packs us into groups rallying around flags and sports teams, follows the path of least resistance. People delude themselves that they have a choice, a purpose, a path. But where do all these so-called paths lead? To wisdom? Wisdom is nothing more than pain-management and rearranging your memories so that they serve as an alibi for the whole of your life and deliver you unto old age where you can deteriorate to the horror and disgust of those you begat while boosting the life expectancy statistics of your country to prove it is on the right path to success.
I know of a German theatre director who took his own life because he believed he would never find love again. He meticulously planned it, wrote a lengthy and detailed note to explain his decision, and then bravely executed his plan. Personally, I admire his premature exeunt from this vulgar, predictable and stagey production we are trapped in. It takes unimaginable courage to cut the puppeteer’s strings that are entwined with the sinews of your muscles and enmeshed in the tissue binding you together. I have 1,000 reasons to keep living but they are mostly pathetic, unfounded and induced by the most hallucinogenic narcotic of all: hope.
The pronouncement of cancer leaves me indifferent. The word is synonymous with death but there is no gaping wound or gushing blood. It is just a whispered confession of cell-replication gone wrong. But humanity as a whole is tantamount to a cancer. It seems individually ebullient but its cumulative effect has been mass extinctions, environmental destruction and potentially catastrophic climate change. All because people felt the need to pursue their path without bothering to check how much oil really lubricated it. Because they fell for the lie that they deserved to be happy, that they could find self-fulfillment, that politics was a mere sideshow that barely affected their lives. There is no terrestrial blood just yet (except the gushing black stuff) but future generations will look back on us with deserved contempt and bewilderment.
Love, as it is written on my cave wall, is art, religion, philosophy, science and sport. It is two people of equal stature struggling to discard their idiotic egos in order to create something truly beautiful. But all I see around me are badly paved and madly laid paths, briefly running parallel for a while before abruptly running off to join a more enticing path, or else stubbornly continuing on into ruin and decrepitude. My path will shortly lead me to the toilet, where I will shit, which is one of my favourite daily pleasures, for the miracle of nature that the act is, and the fact that it requires nothing more than a roll of toilet paper, that soft quilted scroll upon which the real history of humanity is written.