Sunday, August 05, 2007

Glue

I have been drowning in melancholy. It's the most important thing about me right now. I was struck about a month ago by a feeling of hopeless tristesse, after a particularly vivid version of a recurring dream that I have, and I have not been able to shake it.

I do not mean I am depressed. I do not feel that I am. I mean that I have become convinced of the hopelessness of my existence, and it has made me sad. At least I think that is what it is. I am used to being able to analyse things, situations, and find what is going on, but I have to confess to being stumped. I do not know why at this point I am suffering so badly from melancholy. I can only guess.

It is not news to me that my existence is hopeless. I am a devotee of Camus, a convinced materialist, a realist to the bone. I know that I have a small, unimportant existence in a corner of an enormous, uncaring universe. I've known that since I was old enough to understand the concepts involved. Probably even before then, because I've always wanted to be special, to stand out, to make my life, myself, bigger.

I thought I would be writing a big post about this, but I can't. I don't have anything to say about it. I am cutting the ridiculous figure of a grown man who just wants to cry like a baby, and wants so much for someone to take him in their arms and say there, there.

But no one does.

Sometimes I want to shed my life like bad clothes. They looked good in the shop but now I have to wear them every day, I find them ill-fitting and ugly. But I know that I can't; I must find a way to be comfortable with the trousers that cut into my crotch, pretend the shirt that is too loose in the neck and tight in the chest is a good fit. Bearing it is what you have to do in this life. Bear it or kill yourself if you can't. It's stark but it's really what it is.

***

Well, fuck that.

Let me tell you about Zenella. I had a dream, about six months before she was born, in which she was a child of five, six, with long blonde, straight hair. Which was weird, because Mrs Z is curly, and so am I if I let my hair grow longer. (I usually have it cut very short, because it suits me better, although it only really suits me better if I keep the weight off my face.)

Now Zenella is six, and she is just the way I dreamed her. It's uncanny. She looks a lot like D, a friend of my sister J's. She is a beautiful child, and although of course she has the pluses and minuses of any six-year-old, she is a good kid.

She is exactly how I would define "daughter". She is not perfect: beautiful but not perfectly so; smart but not top of her class; well behaved but sometimes naughty. She is rounded though. Real. A wonderful, wonderful person in the making. It is a constant joy to me to see her grow, to watch her learn about the world (and about planets -- her focus at school this term -- they have a new one each term -- has been on the solar system, and she shares what she knows, eager to spread knowledge, like her dad).

She does not like the things I would have her like if I chose for her. She does not do what she would do if I was pulling her strings. But fatherhood has taught me a curious thing: if you do not realise your child is a person, just as you are, and fight it, you will have as much joy as someone would have fighting you over who you are, what you like, what you do.

She is the child I dreamed of, and more. She is the child I would have dreamed of if I was capable of dreaming more, if I had had the imagination to imagine a real person.

And you know, maybe this will mean something to you, maybe not. But having her in my life is slowly teaching me not to undervalue you. I can't explain what I mean by that. Take it or leave it. It's an expression of love for my golden child, and an expression of love for you, because her existing has taught me that you deserve it, because our lives are hopeless, really, they are hopeless, and we all are going to need someone to hold us and say there, there, without judgement, with love, if we are going to survive.

I know why I have been sad. I know it if I will let myself realise the truth. I have stopped believing I am capable of loving and being loved. I have stopped believing that I can be whole. I know I am broken, but I have always believed I was whole inside, that all I needed was the space and time to pull the pieces together and I would be worthwhile. And that is why I will not undervalue you. Because I believe that no matter how broken, how fractured your life, your person is, you are still a golden child. And I won't drown in it until the day I give up that belief.

I know this hasn't made sense. I don't care. It makes sense to me. It's my road home. Why would I care if you can't see the map?

17 Comments:

At 9:23 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

boots sez:

It is not news to me that my existence is hopeless.

Bearing it is what you have to do in this life. Bear it or kill yourself if you can't.

You may be an empiricist, ignoring what you cannot observe. But if you consider yourself a pragmatist, your above two statements show that you are for-shit at being pragmatic if that's the best you can do.

News to you: your existence is not hopeless unless you make it so. Is it your intent to pass along your hopelessness to your golden child, or is that something else that will not be your fault, because she watches your every move.

Here is some more news to you: if you are a pragmatist and the view of reality that your youth inflicted upon you makes you want to be dead, guess what, it isn't fucking working, and a real pragmatist would change whatever is necessary in order to make it work.

You're not a pragmatist, you're a man who has allowed his intellect to be shaped by his world rather than the opposite, and you're crying that the results have come about as they should be expected to; the difference between a Man and a cow is that the Man changes the world and the cow just eats what is before it.

I'm a vegetarian for moral reasons, my wife doesn't value me, nobody wuves me, fucking cunt you're worth nobody's time.

 
At 1:53 am, Blogger blurbees said...

She does not like the things I would have her like if I chose for her. She does not do what she would do if I was pulling her strings. But fatherhood has taught me a curious thing: if you do not realise your child is a person, just as you are, and fight it, you will have as much joy as someone would have fighting you over who you are, what you like, what you do.

if only my idjit father had learned that lesson somewhere along the line.

he still hasn't, and i'm 46.

he still wants me to be an utter idiot like him and goes to great lengths to try to make it so. he's the worst sort of control freak.

he should be in jail for his deeds.

but the worst part of it is that he doesn't want me to be like him for my benefit.

can you tell how much i hate the fucker?

 
At 2:00 am, Blogger blurbees said...

I know this hasn't made sense. I don't care. It makes sense to me. It's my road home.

it was beautiful and made lots of sense, except for the hopelessness part.

 
At 4:42 am, Anonymous high-in-the-sky said...

Beware of analysing yourself; the mechanisms you use to perform the scrutiny, evaluate the data, make connections derive an answer are also the mechanism required to actually exist from day to day. You can bring yourself to a standstill if you take it too far, because the mind subconsciously starts collecting data and analysing it when it should really be making decisions and interacting with the outer world. If you really do need to know some of the reasons behind yourself and your interactions with the world, find someone to act as the analyst, or at least as the referee.

Been there, won't go back again.

 
At 6:06 am, Blogger Sour Grapes said...

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but it makes plenty of sense.

It's the same sentiment that's expressed in the Scottish saying, We're a' Jock Tamson's bairns. The Christians say we're all children of God. Donne said "Because I am of mankind".

I remember when Uday and Qusay Hussein were killed by American forces, and their bodies shamelessly paraded before the media, and I felt a moment of compassion for Saddam, of all people, because those were his two sons. You can't get away from that essential fact in the biography of even the greatest monster: they're some mother's son.

What you're saying here is at once profound and ordinary. That's what I think it's important to grasp: anyone who thinks it's one of those but not the other hasn't really understood.

As far as your melancholy is concerned, all I can do is inform you that I've started a blog on that subject, in which I'll explore the many aspects of the black bile which have caught my interest in recent times. It's at Unquiet Thoughts.

 
At 8:50 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

boots, you can take it or leave it. No one has a gun at your head, and you can read something else if you don't like it. I do not wish to be dead, btw. I wish never to have existed.

zero, my dad was like that but the other way round: he very much didn't want me to be like him. He saw himself reflected in me and hated it. I see Zenella reflected in me and glory in it.

Sopwith, don't fret. I self-medicate. Analysis becomes impossible after a litre of wine and a couple of pipes of the mong medicine.

Grapes, I think I meant that the way I expressed it was too fractured to make too much sense. I don't know whether you'd agree but it's my belief that the ordinary can itself be profound. It's the creed of the flaneur, I suppose. Or maybe the outcome of having a life that's very ordinary. Thanks for the link. I will take the feed because that looks very promising.

 
At 10:24 am, Blogger Arleen said...

If I understand correctly, there is hopeless and there is hopeless. To say one's life is hopeless is to say there is no reason for us to be here, nothing we're here to do. We're just here. That can, in turn, make us hopeless, make us sad creatures who cannot get beyond the idea that we're just taking up space, that we aren't special. Or, we can yet have hope in a hopeless life. Just because there's no purpose to our lives, doesn't mean we can't hope for good things to come our way while we're living them.

Zen's in a hard place right now, and he may see his life as hopeless, but it doesn't follow that he has no hope. At least, that's the sense I get when I read on, when he says Fuck that and talks about Zenella and about not undervaluing his fellows.

I am cutting the ridiculous figure of a grown man who just wants to cry like a baby, and wants so much for someone to take him in their arms and say there, there.

But no one does.


Why do we consider it ridiculous to acknowledge when we feel this way? Or perhaps I should rephrase that. Why is it ridiculous for a man? Gawd, life is so hard sometimes. Maybe it wouldn't be so good if we all went around wailing and moaning about it all the time, but geeze, Zen, who wouldn't feel as you do under your circumstances? (aside from boots, that is) It isn't just the melancholy you feel over existence, all that it is and isn't, but that you're going through a very, very stressful time in your life. I won't enumerate, that might put you over the edge to see all the stresses listed in black and white. ;-)

I don't think that there is anything wrong with acknowledging our humanity, our cries of wanting to be held and loved when we feel like this.

 
At 8:55 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

boots sez:

First, I wish to apologize for the harshness with which I expressed my earlier comment. It does seem that you've painted yourself into a corner where the only alternative is self-pity, but the one thing you can count on is that as long as you live and whatever state you are in there will always be other alternatives.

I do not wish to be dead, btw. I wish never to have existed.

Yes, well, the toothpaste is out of the tube isn't it. If you understand why you wish never to have existed but do not wish to be dead, you may also understand how to work yourself out of the current situation; if not, it might be something to consider.

Father Luke asked what qualities initially contributed to your love for Mrs Zen, but what might be equally useful is considering what qualities of yours contributed to her early love for you, and whether those things have changed in you or whether she no longer values them.

We all change over time you know, and sometimes changes weaken or strengthen a relationship. When Mrs Boots and I were raising our children, life was a hellish stressful thing that resembled in many ways the situation you find yourself in. Since they've flown the nest we've changed our lifestyle to a less stressful one and we're closer now than ever before, though not necessarily in the same ways.

Here's the thing, Zen. If you've set up a game for yourself and made unwinability one of its conditions you're going to lose, and the only alternative is to change the conditions you've set up to define the game. That doesn't necessarily mean divorce, infidelity, or any other specific thing. It could be a subtle change of attitude or how you view things, it could be some realization that you've been in a cocoon and it's set to burst, who knows what it could be. An alternative of some type that you've previously been unable to focus on.

But it does appear that you've set yourself up to lose, you can't never exist at this point, you don't want to be dead, but don't sit there and rot from inside; nevermind that you want to scream until the world dissolves, it won't.

 
At 1:18 am, Blogger Sal said...

Because I believe that no matter how broken, how fractured your life, your person is, you are still a golden child.

Liked this.

And you are still a golden child as well even though at times you can't feel that and despair of ever feeling that again.

 
At 5:49 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And you are still a golden child as well

Amen.

A

 
At 6:57 am, Blogger blurbees.com said...

zero, my dad was like that but the other way round:

your dad was like what?

he very much didn't want me to be like him. He saw himself reflected in me and hated it.

why? what did he see reflected that he hated?

but anyway, did he have those feelings out of love for you, or for his own self-serving reasons?

i don't think my father and i spent more than five minutes together as father and son until i was in my early twenties, and even then it wasn't as father and son it was as co-workers at the same company.

he's one of those people that everyone likes because of his pleasent (faked) external personality -- they never get to see what he's really like -- absurdly petty and spiteful, stupidly selfish, manipulative and controlling beyond belief, not to mention wrong about nearly everything, yet idiotically pushy about same.

I see Zenella reflected in me and glory in it.

that's beautiful.

now that they're grown, i see myself reflected in my kids in both good ways and bad.

i cringe at the bad (like my stubbornness, for example -- which they mostly reserve for me -- heh -- that's what i get for inviting it), but thankfully they don't have very much of my negative traits, and what negative traits they do have are far less negative than mine -- probably from observing them in me.

plus, they're both way more considerate than moi in that they go out of their ways to be nice and polite to everyone, out of sincere compassion, and they're totally non-political -- more like their mom in those ways, which is a very good thing, because they don't have to struggle like i've had to.

though obviously, i'd certainly argue that struggling is a good thing and produces valuable stuff, still, i don't want them to have to experience what i've gone thru so i'm pleased that they've learned the value of struggling in much less pointlessly stressful ways.

 
At 10:55 am, Blogger blurbees.com said...

were the questions too personal, or too difficult to answer?

or too boring?

 
At 11:00 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

Sorry, i wasn't in a position to answer when I read them.

"Your dad was like what?"

Desirous that I should be different from what I was.

"why? what did he see reflected that he hated?"

You'd need to ask him, but he didn't like that I'm lazy, or that I'm an intellectual.

"but anyway, did he have those feelings out of love for you, or for his own self-serving reasons? "

I'm not sure that those are exclusive of each other.

 
At 11:26 am, Blogger blurbees.com said...

so your dad was a lazy intellectual like yourself.

mine was just plain lazy, and definitely not intellectual, though his laziness was the kind that society approves of because he managed to cheat himself a paycheck out of it somehow.

as co-workers, i was kind of ashamed of his total lack of curiosity and his total lack of desire to do a good and valuable job -- though i never voiced it back then.

we were both tech service guys, but he knew absolutely nothing about the equipment and never bothered to try to learn anything either.

he had that job for fifteen plus years.

within six months i was a thousand times more useful on the job than he was.

he just did the absolute minimum (showed up on locations with a smile and an excuse that others would come back if he couldn't fix it -- which he often made matters worse rather than better) and he never took the initiative to actually learn any of his job's essential responsibilities.

his desire for me and my abilities?

become a blackjack dealer at the local casino that drains the locals of their hard-earned money.

why should i waste my talents dealing cards to suicidal losers?

because it pays well, of course.

all he ever cared about was appearences, and cheating.

 
At 11:29 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

No, my dad was not an intellectual. He hated that I was one and not "normal".

My dad overcame laziness by showing discipline. He was helped by becoming a sailor, and having someone else take responsibility for the discipline.

"all he ever cared about was appearences, and cheating."

Well, appearances count, Z. For most people, they are worth more than the truth.

 
At 11:31 am, Blogger blurbees.com said...

I'm not sure that those are exclusive of each other.

not necessarily, no.

but in some cases, yes.

in my case, for instance.

my father doesn't care one bit about me nor anyone else in our large family.

all he cares about is himself and what other people think about him.

nothing else matters, at all.

we who actually know the real him are a bother, not an "asset".

 
At 2:50 am, Anonymous blurbees.com said...

Well, appearances count, Z. For most people, they are worth more than the truth.

ain't that the truth.

but it doesn't change what's true.

(nor what's false).

 

Post a Comment

<< Home