Thursday, 3 June 2010

Crazy Train

The Cranberries are playing and a helicopter is hovering somewhere in the vicinity. It is a warm and breezy night and I feel inclined to jot down a few thoughts.
Every morning, as I struggle to wash away the remnants of a part-time death, I speculate as to what the day holds for me. Will I do the things I've planned to do? What exactly have I planned? I have a vague idea of what needs to be done but to call it a plan is quite inaccurate. More pertinently, I wonder whether the elements –celestial and otherwise– will aid me in getting things done. How long will I spend on public transport? I need to see my father and return a magazine I borrowed over a year ago. I’ve got essays which I need to start writing. The list is endless and life-sapping.
I return to my room and take a moment to reflect on the various sheets of paper, magazines and CDs that clog up the shoe-box that is my bedroom. Everything is inanimate and uninspiring, except for the book next to my pillow: The Bell Jar.
Money wasn’t my strongest point as a teenager. When I had some cash to spare, I went to the local bookshop and bought The Bell Jar. We had read Sylvia Plath’s poetry in school and I was fascinated by the fact that she took her own life at such a young age. What a brave thing to do, I thought. Years later, I would develop an unorthodox respect for Plath and others like her. David Foster Wallace being the other notable author who chose to bring his biological wagon to a halt.
The words are chilling and honest to the point where they have become devastating. My eyes are glued to the pages and I could almost smell an odour of despair and detachment – the kind of detachment that Jean-Dominique Bauby revelled in despite his paralysis.
I wonder whether angels are mortal and whether they will be held to account like us humans. On the same train of thought, other interesting passengers are aboard: My mother, Studs Terkel and Eva Cassidy seem to be floating side by side, speaking to me, only I can’t hear what they’re saying.
My journey is long and laborious; so is everybody else’s. I have to teach myself to have a tunnelled vision and to never look sideways. The destination is anyone’s guess. For now, I keep reminding myself of Carpe Diem, The Dead Poets’ Society and all that jazz. Prepare to be disappointed at some point, keep your chin up and chug along. Some promises are bound to broken but you do your best and hope that you hurt no-one.
My legacy, if I were to have one, ought to be something that fills others with a pleasant sense of recognition. “He articulated our anxieties.” That would feel blissful and just about satisfactory.
I am five and I am wearing white, girls’ socks. I am eight and I am desperate to learn how to make tea. I am fifteen and I am coming to terms with mortality. I am twenty-one and I am redefining my route. I am thirty-five and I am rejoicing in a life that’s blossoming before my eyes. I am fifty and I am relentless to stick around.
I am.. somewhere serene and all-consuming.


Anonymous said...

if mortality concerns you try reading "the savage god" by a.alvarez.

best wishes

Little Penguin said...

anon, thank you for your recommendation. I'll try getting the book soon.. and I'm sure I'll be hooked, especially since Alvarez was probably one of Plath's closest friends.. though I should add that it's not so much concern as much as it's curiosity.. deep curiosity.. it's almost an obsession.. of course, I don't mean an obsession with the idea of being there myself -not until I've done something substantial anyways- but with what other people think of it and how they feel about it..

if this unglamorous subject interests you, check out Studs Terkel's excellent Will The Circle Be Unbroken - Reflections on Death and Dignity.

thanks and see you soon :)

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that you describe such a young suicide in heroic terms. On the contrary, surely a suicide can only be discerned as cowardly when the fact that a person chooses to make a quick exit rather than face up to their problems and see them through is taken into account. Life is full of problems and I can tell you I've had my fair share, however seeing those problems through has allowed me to be the person that I am today and I am proud of myself. Suicide is extremely cowardly and selfish to those that bare the pain of the void that the deceased has left behind.

Little Penguin said...


why do you think a person would choose to end his life in the first place? surely, one only resorts to such measures when life becomes no longer worth living. waking up every morning is bad news. one's existence ceases to be of value, and the longer he or she lives, the more he/she endures the futility and agony of having to pull through.

why is it cowardly to determine your very own demise? we choose our clothes, diets, careers, spouses - with little regard for what those around us feel about these choices. Death shouldn't be any different. If they really valued this person's life, they would've made more of an effort to lend a helping hand, or at least recognise that something isn't right.

Ultimately, it takes guts to sign yourself out of this world when we haven't got a clue as to what awaits us the instant we reach the end of this fictitious tunnel we're all so fascinated by.

Only a dilettante would toy with the idea of suicide. Those who contemplate it are, in my uninformed opinion, at an advanced level of understanding of our complex human condition.

Touta said...

smalla 3la part time death

yaba don't scare me, uni life sounds scary, even scarier being perhaps the distance from family (when you ask yourself when you will see your father to return a magazine..)

tkh, how can you change url's without previous notice? :)