I began writing a new post the other day:
The world is cruel, and I am its confidante.
In others news, I’ve been just as cruel of late. Specifically, this cruelty is of a subjective kind, one comprising selfishness and laxity. I’ve been selfish in the use of my time–for despite all my friends’ emails who’ve patiently been waiting for responses (some in excess of months), I’ve put all my time into reading for my own pleasure and playing on Neopets. And lax I have been in sleeping late, staying up late, and all in all, moving little and doing less.
On the one hand, the relaxation this brings is want for more.
But on the other hand, it’s simply perpetuating all the excuses I’ve been giving–and this time, I’ve got no excuses to give. School is over for the semester. For my sake, all the holidays are passed. And yet, I linger. I laze. I waste away.
It’s a worthless, shameful existence. It’s pitiable. It’s partly why I’ve not posted in so long.
I mentioned in my last post about it being that time of year, or something such like that I recall (and please excuse my writing at length–ingesting Pride and Prejudice for a few days on end can do that to a guy’s already verbose tongue), and to that end, I intend to return here.
I speak by saying it’s that time of year again even though I know wholeheartedly that each year has its own wants and wishes and that each year, although bearing some similarity to years past, is in effect its own year. However, it seems with good reason, to be a truth universally acknowledged, that a man at the end of his year is in want of what he lacks.
I told you, Pride and Prejudice. I finally finished it, but I ask you this: At what cost?
Obviously I began writing this before Christmas. Obviously I’ve since given a fair number of posts on all sorts of issues, but to this one in particular I’ve not yet returned. The truth is, to pick up where I left off would be a dire injustice.
When I began writing this almost a week ago, I was in a bad place. It was somewhere between the Holocaust and the Sea of Monsters (which is an allusion both to the books I’ve read since), which in layman’s terms is just north of the Bermuda Triangle and west of depression (once more, allusions). “Word came through in a letter…” and it wasn’t all that great. As I said before, and I stand by it still: The world is cruel, and I am its confidante.
Of course, in confidence is silence (see also: Another Thursday, Another Thank You, which was written about the same time I started writing this), so I can’t by order of obligation and promise divulge what was said, but sadly I’ve heard it all before.
Which only furthers my belief that the world is cruel and that we’ve come to a terrible place in the existence of humanity. How can I have hope if there is so little hope to be had, you ask? Well, I can’t always be certain I do have hope. Some people, such as Harvey Milk, whom I greatly admire, say that hope is the fuel of life (in his own words: “I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living.”), but sometimes I think I’m the opposite case.
It’s somewhat of an aside, but I have always considered myself the exception to the rule, so perhaps that belief still holds true.
In any case, I often feel hopeless. I’m the eternal optimist by choice, only because I know that the alternative isn’t a brighter place–that the alternative is my truest nature, that I know it well and know wisely that it’s not a nature I wish to indulge. So I forge onward, my life a perpetual lie: When I tell you it’ll all be okay, I say it through slightly gritted teeth, staring the stacked odds in the eye, knowing there’s no way to plow through this mountain unharmed. But to state the truth is deathly, this much I know, and if there’s any chance at all for the tide to turn, some lies must be told, some beliefs must be left unbroken, and some salvaged sense of immortality must be stolen from the wreckage of the world.
Perhaps it’s this very disposition that inclines me to be a writer: There’s no story worth telling without the worst coming to page, and when every glance I steal is a glimpse of that fate, I put it to words. I tell tales that–I know so unlike the world at large–have the worst happen, and then live happily ever after. On the contrary, I often have unfortunate endings. I was surprised in this last NaNo-novel I wrote: None of the main characters died. In fact, I can count on two hands the number of significant characters who did die, and trust me, that’s a record for me. In my first NaNoWriMo, I killed half the characters. (That that same half had been dead from the start in one story arc is a small note not worth mentioning.) The point being: I don’t endorse happy endings. I’m a pessimist at heart and my characters feel the full brunt of my unfortunate circumstances.
In perhaps one of my most well-known stories, two friends held together by letters back and forth are left to linger when no responses come from the other. It’s a depressing tale, but it’s so fraught with real, human, enduring emotions that there’s no way around feeling sympathetic and heartbroken yourself. That’s the story I long to write–one so real it haunts you. One so true it sticks in your veins like a blood clot waiting to kill.
In one regard it’s this hopelessness that presses me onward; in other words, it’s a sense of obligation to uphold this lie that keeps me living at all. It’s no unknown truth that a small lie begets a bigger one, and just the same, a mask ingrown cannot easily be removed. So I show the world what I want them to see, and that, my dear, is how the world sees me.
I mention this for two regards: The first, because it’s important to know for my discussion of it being that time of year again, which I’ll return to shortly. The second, because of something one of my friends told me just yesterday: “I think very highly of you as a person, not only for your intelligence and compassion but also because you have never shown any fear about being who you are.”
With a red pen I run over this, replacing intelligence with facade and compassion with compulsion before swapping out fearless for foolish. (That I once told another friend, quite dear to me, that sometimes if you wear a mask long enough it becomes you, implying that by living so you truly become so, I insist that despite this staunch possibility, there’s still something of a monster writhing inside me, only a tentacle of which I’ve granted a glimpse in writing this.)
When he said that, it made me think. I heard it in an email, mind you, so I was able to look up and out my window. It snowed the past couple of days, so as the wind blew, white wisps of loose snow blew with it, tendrils of a white spirit that I’d seen drifting all over town. It was beautiful. And in the distance a few blankets hanging on the clothesline looked like a wolf running towards me. I’ve always had an affinity for wolves: They’re misunderstood creatures, hunted for an image that isn’t theirs at heart. I feel the same in many ways, and when I describe myself as a wolf, I’ve since given up giving people the distinction. It’s not the ferocious man-eater I equate myself with, the territorial hunter they believe (probably halfheartedly if they know me well enough) that I belong to (although I’ll admit, I’ve got the tenacity), but the side of wolves oft unseen: They’re pack animals, obedient and loyal, holding tight to tradition; they’re teachers and team-workers; they love for life, mating but once and living together until death.
Others see wolves as loners. I’ve been a touch of that, too, in my time, but a lone wolf is an oxymoron. The only time a wolf is truly alone is if he, or she, leaves the pack to found a new one. Whilst searching for a mate and a lifeline, one could say. Only in that sense am I ever the lone wolf.
My point being, since I seemed to have dropped it amidst the snow, is that if I can in some way be a beacon for others, something to inspire hope and find a stronghold to let others hold onto, then it doesn’t matter what’s inside me, but only that I’m there to help them. However, as if it warrants repeating, a man at his end is only in want of what he lacks.
This applies to many scenarios: At the end of a book, we want the mysteries solved. At the end of an engrossing game, we want one more level. At the end of a relationship, we want our lost love returned. And at the end of the year, when we’re all amuck with midnight kisses and last year’s New Year resolutions, we realise just how far we haven’t come.
It’s that perpetual let-down that destroys the end of December.
We’re forced, by the reckoning of our own hand, to indulge in all our greatest defeats of the year at end. It’s no wonder people go out and get drunk. Facing that fate, why would anyone want anything else?
I’ve had goals this year, goals I’ve failed and forgotten. Goals that anger me I didn’t achieve, goals that sicken me to think I never put more effort into reaching them. But the new year shouldn’t be about wallowing in what we lack, should it? It needn’t be about all our faults and shortcomings, must it?
A week ago I would’ve insisted that it was, but today I beg to differ. And no, I’m not even begging to differ–I’m demanding to differ. It’s time we all open our eyes, see the beautiful snow, and realise the end is but another beginning in disguise. This isn’t the time to wallow in our failures, but to take hope in the opportunity to try again. What better blessing could there be than that?
Yes, another year has gone by and I still haven’t learned to drive. But I’ve made progress, as minimal as such progress could be made, I’ll admit, but I have done a little, and I feel ready at last to hit the road. Metaphorically speaking, at any rate. And indeed, I started the year thinking I’d end it in love, but that fell through. I don’t need a midnight kiss. If anything, not having one will simply make the one that comes–whenever it comes–more meaningful. And, yes, I haven’t been the best friend in the world, especially to all my friends I’ve had the honor of getting to know online, but to those I’ve seen more frequently, through school and work, I’ve been good enough to win praise. Perhaps I didn’t meet all my goals this year, but that’s not to say I entirely failed. Maybe I didn’t make a shining A, but at least I scored a C.
A C for Courage, and Compassion, and Camaraderie, things I’ve exalted all throughout the year, even if I didn’t always know it myself. Perhaps what I had thought most imposing at the year’s start was not what was in the end most important, but if I’m to believe anything, I must believe that everything that was meant to happen, did happen, and that all the world is better because of it.
For if I let go of that hope, what would I have left of me?