gratefulness and suffering
You act almost as if matters have to hurt to be of value, a man of weakness told me once. Clearly overstepping his authority. Broad–brushed, over–simplified, untrue. But not entirely. Perhaps when battle is your default it is difficult to trust when someone offers you a deal too good to seem legit. Legend has it, when it sounds too grand, it usually is. Allow yourself sufficient relaxation and someone’s gonna jab you in the throat when you expect it the very least. It’s the natural order of things. Does it ever get easier? Will there ever come a time when you’ve passed the age of heartbreak? Probably not. It doesn’t matter, anyway. Your doomsday prophesies will do nothing but feed your worried soul. So what should you do, in the dawn of yet another imminent catastrophe?
Be grateful. It’s all you have. Take a breath and open your eyes. It is Sunday afternoon in a place of clear blue skies. Your city is at rest and your country in repose. No one is bombing one another. You aren’t slaughtering each other in the streets. In a moment you are buying food not because you need to but because you can. You never go hungry and you never fear for famine. Do you realise, you millennial child of avocado–toasts and extra cream hot chocolate–you, the absolute incredible and god damn other–worldly bloody wonder that is? The fact that you never have to go hungry.
I’m reading The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosiński. About a wartime child abandoned by his guardians, wandering the villages of a haunted winter Poland. Everyone hates him. They think he’s cursed, a demon, the devil. His hair is dark and eyes black, of course they do. Everyone is trying to kill him. Everyone is trying to kill everyone, actually. It was the fashion of the time. People are poor, desolate, desperate. Beating each other, raping each other, their wives, their children, their horses. Abusing animals for enjoyment. Instilling madness in their eyes and watching slaughter for amusement.
But you don’t live there. You live here. In a city where the only reason people cuss off strangers is when they cut each other off in traffic. In their shining fancy leather–seated eco–driven cars that everyone can afford because humanity brought poverty to extinction and replaced it with endless opportunity to anyone with enough sense and free will to grab it. Where spoon–fed spoiled children complain of not knowing what to make of themselves because they can’t stand sitting in an office eight hours a day for the rest of their lives (I admit guilt) despite the money, the stillness and the unbound security and peace of heart and mind. No, my darling, we want freedom, you see, we want adventure and creativity, liberty, fear and madness. You know what adventure meant eighty years ago? Getting eaten alive by rats because you blacked out from cold and hunger in the wrong place at the wrong time. This dear hunger of yours for adventure, this thirst for fear and freedom and the unknown?
It’s a damn privilege. Remember that.