Sitting here on a wet, cold Monday night. All alone with nothing to do but listen to some Hipster musician and randomly trip around the internet, spending money I don’t really have on maybes and what-ifs.
It’s the perfect time to write, to let my creative side loose and run wild with reckless abandon. But my creative spark has dimmed somewhat recently. As grateful as I am for having a fairly decent job in one of the worst economies in human history, it is however undeniable that perpetuating the menial 9-5 job of your average wage slave has some effect on the creative process.
I stuff envelopes, press buttons, take calls, make copies. My mind sits and waits for something interesting to happen. Nothing does. I take more calls, press more buttons and stuff more envelopes. Occasionally I’ll get an interesting phone call that will wake me from my funk. An angry irate old man screaming at the world; and at me. He calls me “boy”; he demands to know where I got his details. I smile and silently thank him for still having some fight and for taking the time to phone me up and at least challenge me.
It is this I appreciate most when in work. The all too rare challenge. When dealing with people like him I have to use my creative side, a side that is now in serious neglect. I run through the standard script in my head and give him stock answers. But there is always the chance he will go off script and ask me something I don’t know. These are the times I hope for. I need to be challenged and pushed, else I get bored and fall into one of my all too common bouts of quietness and frustrating emptiness.
Occasionally I’ll get a confused old woman. I often wonder about them. At one point in their lives they were small children playing princess. They were someone’s baby, someone’s pride and joy. They grew into young adults, she was beautiful once. A young man once saw her and decided to make her his wife. She had children of her own. She maybe worked. Had a career. Was a vital cog in some machine that was now long rusted and shut down. Her children left home, she retired. Maybe her husband died of some premature disease people of his generation are prone to, such as lung cancer or heart disease. He left her alone, her children and grandchildren moved away for better opportunities. Too far for her to keep in regular contact. She has only ever used the phone for emergencies and special occasions, but quietly cries when they don’t call on her birthday. Now in her seventh decade she stands alone on the street corner.
I think her saw her a few days ago. I was going to get a haircut and walked past an elderly woman in a black hat and long burgundy coat talking to herself, her eyes vacant and wondering, focusing on nothing but searching for everything. She mutters nonsensical words and phrases. I thought about asking her if she was ok. But I walked on knowing that no good answer could ever come from my question. I stay in the hairdressers and look at her out of the window. There she stands; a non-descript bag in her hand, slowly rocking back and forth in rhythm with her words. I feel sad for her. I wonder what her life will bring from this moment on?
She is still relatively healthy. She can still walk around the shops and dress herself. But her most precious health of all seems to have faded. Its last choking breaths spent spitting at her fate. She had once been young and beautiful, played with dolls and drank from empty plastic tea cups. I turned my eyes away from her, unable to bare the tragic vessel of nothingness that still stood opposite.
Will that be me one day? Will I wander the streets muttering to no one in particular as I wait to die. My usefulness and creativity all used up? Just an ancillary character in everyone else’s stories, easily discarded and written out. It happens to us all sooner or later. What was once new and fresh will always eventually become old and rotten. I sometimes think about my own old age. Please don’t let me end up like this woman. I pity her and hate her at the same time. I hate her for the mere fact that her walking skeleton is a grim spectre of mortality that is usually confined to nursing homes and hospitals.
So here I sit, getting older myself. My cells slowly dying and my body going through its natural process of wax and wane. Maybe when I’m her age a simple injection will grant me an extra 100 years of life. Maybe they will be able to grow new hearts and kidneys in a test tube. Maybe when I reach her age life and death will be things of the past.
But there is still plenty of living left to do. I’ve decided to take some chances and push myself in ways I haven’t really done before. Life is for the living, so either I do it now or I stand on a street corner in 50 years and lament my lack of action and courage. I don’t want to look down at those same paving stones and see a life unlived. If my creative juices are somewhat dried up, I can either bitch and complain about it or I can go out and squeeze some fresh oranges.
To write and tell a tale of life, one must first live it. So with this in mind I shall be signing up for new experiences, meeting new people and getting into new adventures. There is a whole world of oranges out there just waiting for you. All you have to do is walk out the door and take a chance.
This is what I intend to do. It may be hard, it may go against every fibre of my personality, but the clocks ticking and if you don’t watch the hands they will push you into old age before you’ve had a chance to set the alarm.
I will strive to live and experience new adventures, be they good or bad. That is my promise to you now.
But even with my new found passion for life, I still can’t stop thinking of that old woman.
She had once been young. She had once been beautiful. She had played with dolls and drank from empty plastic tea cups. She was once just like me.