#np Lenny Kravitz – Believe In Me
As the young man undressed from his work clothes, his mind skirted around the idea of life’s many traverses. Each perceptible thought was a pin to his nice, big bubble of self-induced happiness. His brain, that is the muddle of musings that could still afford to float in his head, paced aimlessly around the dark. Feeling, touching, groping. As it sought to put some sense to the question: Why does it happen the way it does?
He couldn’t help but wonder whether he would ever have such an effect on someone he never spoke to. Somebody like the lady he just said goodbye to. Whose path has decided to take the now conventional route of Fare Thee Well.
He sat his bare self on a chair, and pulled on a navy blue, leather-bound book from his small stack of volumes. As he flipped through the scripts of written memoirs, he reflected on the meaning of goodbyes. The seconds seemed to overlap the minutes, even as the minutes dragged on endlessly. Finally, after staring at the book blindly for a while, he stumbled upon a fresh patch of paper. Crisp and clean, with not but a splodge on it. Its smooth surface seemed to beckon for a good working over. He picked up his pen, one infamously known to be blotchy, and scribbled the date at the top.
What follows is his account of the moments just gone. Moments that come through only once in a lifetime. Those that swing by and depart faster than they came. Leaving no room for your mind to capture each breathing second as it should. For such moments know their rarity, and play a most devious game of hide and seek. They know you will never experience them again, thus they seductively hide the happiness of the moment, and make sure you’re left seeking it long after the experience is over. With an ache in your heart, rather than the contented feeling of acceptance, you dedicatedly pursue that happiness. You search and search. Your beady eyes peer into the skies as you snatch at the air. Snatch with all your might, trying to get a hold of those happy smokes that ever so gently waft away. Yet when the skies turn black, and darkness falls, all you have clutched in your fist are words to help jot down the lessons you have just learnt. Just like our unclothed protagonist did.
31st May 2013.
She’s gone. Gone and never to be seen again. Perhaps she’s still stuck in traffic somewhere along the way. Perhaps she’s staring out of the window. Taking in all the sounds and colours of the densely populated town she now departs. A hoot here, an irate shout somewhere, the flashing lights of an ambulance, large neon signs rushing by – all bidding her adieu. I’m not sure she’ll see them again, or even whether she’ll miss them, but I know her memory of them will last.
It’s now roughly five months since I first saw her. Since I first ever met this beautiful lady from a land not so far. Slightly sawn-off, and full of years, she was one who rarely spoke. Each day, she would live life right as she did the previous one. And the next one too. Whether the sun shone, or the rains came calling, she always had the same steps to her walk, and the same look in her eyes. Eyes that shone with wisdom well beyond my entire life’s worth, yet eyes that made no undue requests for curtsies.
She knew but one word from the language of the Englishmen – ‘Hi’. And it was this word that she shared ever so often with me, for no day would go by without me running into her, or her into me. Sometimes, I would help her get her clothes from the clothing line. Other times, I’d help her carry this or that item to the house. What remained constant though, was that we never even once shared any stories, or small talk.
However frail she was, she spared countless moments each day to sit out and soak in the sun. She would mutter things to herself, as though she was talking to someone seated beside her. Such moments would have me at a loss as to why soliloquizing is such a common occurrence among the old. Why such moments have one lost in a daze that borders on a hypnotic trance? What kind of topics ricochet through the minds of people at such times? Do they ever remember the things they utter?…. I could go on for hours listing the queries my over-indulgent mind comes up with. But the long and short is that my very last thought ever has been, ‘Will I go through the same once my years are on their last bend? And who’ll be the one staring at me in wonder?’
It may be that all the moments I spent by my window, with a plastic cup in hand, sipping on foreign waters, might just have made me fond of the woman. Perhaps I just got overly used to the sight of her by my window. Or maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t by accident that it happened the way it did. You know, the way our paths met and diverted. The possibilities are there. Still, I find it hard to come to terms with the fact that this, this beautiful day right here, just might be the last time we will ever see each other again.
Our goodbyes were rather rushed. With a firm grip of the hand, and a compassionate utterance of our farewells, it was all over. The casual hi’s we shared, the blank stares that flickered between our disparate cultural beings, the solitary moments she spent outside my window, uttering words I will never get to understand – those moments are now all gone. All I have right now are memories. Memories that are all but pebbles. Some smooth, others round, many more misshapen. Nonetheless, I have the deserved duty of carrying these pebbles in my pocket for the rest of my days. For life gives you no chance of throwing away these pebbles. You’re with them to the very end.
For what it’s worth, I will miss the dear old lady. The wisdom her moments by my window imparted on my troubled soul seem surreal. For in those endless stares, when I thought through the reasons behind soliloquizing, I realized one important thing. Life, this box of chocolates everyone talks about, really is a box of chocolates. One we bite through each day. Some bites are sweet, others drive your teeth into nuts whose taste you may not entirely be fond of. Yet as you have and always will finish that bar of chocolate, life’s precious moments will one day run out too.
The days of endless cheer and wild energy, the laughter that had you clutching at your belly, even the bright sun-shining days we now have – they will all come to pass. Only to become fleeting memories of a time that once was. Through the will of the Almighty, we will all get to a point in life where all we can do are pick through the pebbles in our pockets. With your vision slightly impaired, you’ll feel and touch on each pebble, trying to remind your soul of the happiness that each smooth pebble once held. Trying even harder to forget the bitterness held by each rough, and oddly-shaped pebble. For when that time comes, those with pocketfuls of pebbles will be the envy of us all. With the most pebbles to sort through, they will be the ones with more things to talk about, more stories to tell, and more reason to be content at the way their lives turned out. However bitter or sweet their memories will be, their days will be filled with one memory or another about their youthful days on earth. Not once will they lack a reminiscent thought running through their minds. Meanwhile, those who spared no time to live life and absorb it in its entirety, might just be the old and bitter sort. Always complaining about how their grandchildren play too much, or make too much noise. For the thought that they didn’t allow themselves such craziness when they had the time, will always be a stab at a lifelong wound.
Today, I’m reminded to enjoy each breathing moment as it comes. To accept life’s bounties as they come, even though all of us have different paths to tread. To embrace the different pains and joys we all go through, for this just gives spice to the different stories we will live to tell. To be committed to all my friendships with unbiased affection. To give the happiness in my heart to those that love me. To share as much love with all those around me, and spare no hate for those against me. To pass on a kind word to every person I meet and talk to. To let the world know of the joys of a smile, and the beauty of kindness. To relish the silent, or noisy, moments spent with all the people I meet on this journey of life. From they that share each of their travelling days with me, to those that walk alongside me for a mile, and take the next turn at the left. Heading off on a different direction. One with totally different people to meet, and different experiences to chat about. And if language is a barrier, they will at least walk silently, and hum quiet songs, besides these different people they meet. Occasionally waving at them, showing them the pebbles they’ve accumulated, and sharing mere ‘Hello’s’ or ‘Hi’s’, just like my neighbour used to.
The gears of fate have no regard when plucking you from your shared paths, only to lead you down a totally different street. And as has been said many times before, each moment you share with somebody might be the last time you see them. So strive to live a life that’s free. Fight all forms of conventional living each step of the way. Let your mind whisper melodies of love. Let your heart sing songs of joy. Let your soul be drenched in wild, sweaty passion. Allow the big white moon to serenade your darkness with light. Skip along to the beat of life. Wave your hands high to the sound of music. Jive and jig to the hums of the birds. Spread your heart out like birds do their wings. Hug your friends ever so tightly, and don’t you even dare allow true friends to leave your life. Let every experience be a moment lived in slow-motion, and every memory like an individual stain on white canvas. If you love somebody, go ahead and tell them. Better give them the flowers while they can still smell them. Let your love be genuine, and your feelings honest. Tell each person that’s worth a second, and third, hug goodbye each time you part, and give that hug like you mean it. Share laughter like its your last breath. And say goodbye like its the last time, for some goodbyes really, and truly are for ever.
As I write the last of my thoughts, and prepare to finally look away from this now scrap-filled piece of paper, I sign off with words learnt from a certain film screened back in the day: “You can be mad as mad dog at the way things went, you can swear and curse the fates…but when it comes to the end, you have to let go.” You have to say goodbye.
(Dedicated to that dear, old, Ethiopian lady that once was a neighbour, but is now miles away, never to return. Just another person I once met in this life. I’ll never forgive you for how hard you laughed as I struggled through the extra peppery meal your grand-daughter once shared; I’ll always cherish that kind smile you gave me before you boarded your taxi to the airport; I’ll always remember your polite greetings. And since you might never read this, I further dedicate this to everyone who’s ever parted ways with somebody who impacted your life without even meaning it.)
#np Vanessa Carlton – Ordinary Day