Archive for March, 2007

the price at the end of the rope

I have this weekly ritual of being declared a madman in the dressing rooms after capoeira class. First it was because of the things I did in the past, this week it was because of the wage I work for. I remember two weeks ago it was because I said the final few years of high school are meant to drill you into a way of thinking, force-feeding you hollow and irrelevant knowledge just so they can teach you more useful matter (depending on the point view anyway) efficiently later on.
It may bother me once in a while, when I grow tired of being different than the people I hang out with. But in all honesty, I probably crave it more than anything. To personalize, to mold, to stand out. That doesn’t mean I want to be on the foreground, but for a strange reason, I am disgusted by the idea of blending into a crowd. I hang onto that with dumb little things. We get a uniform at work, Maarten goes and stencils random slogans on it with bleach. We got a new sweater now and I hate wearing it, because it looks the same as that of the guy next to me. Not that big a deal of course, but already I’m brainstorming how I will make mine that tiny bit unique, so at least I’m certain it is unlike any other sweater on earth.
Some like me, others don’t, for the same reasons. I hardly care about that, what I am obsessed with is leaving an impression. To pause some one’s gaze when they look over the group, is what gets me hard. It’s rooted in me for a reason I haven’t yet figured out.
I am holding a piece of paper in my hand, something I ran into while cleaning up one of my many "mess piles". The stuff written on it dates back from the time I spent apart from my girlfriend, a black few pages in my life.
Strangely, it seems I get most poetic when I feel like shit. Reading it again, I was quite shocked. I am copying them here, for myself to find again in a few years from now perhaps, and for any Freudian out there who can explain to me where the fuck my mind was at that time.
I sit on my balcony
I mourn the dead
Now there’s time
Room to fly
Solitude as a conversation partner
Tears as company
Can she see me?
I’m not sure [if] I’d hope so.
No magic to believe in
No love to keep us warm
Just a grey skyline
And black birds
"Urban philosophy"
The motherfuckers dare call it
[next page]
it’s ok love
it won’t hurt much
at least
not for long
I told you, stay away
I hurt as I am hurting
You killed me
so I’m way behind [overdue]
Every night I dream this
to hurt as I am hurting
I never would, of course
but it’d be nice to matter
[next page]
Hoesten is een teken van zwakte
net als wenen.
onze ziel is net zo onsterfelijk als ons lichaam
en het wordt onze dood
dus wat is er nog heilig
herinneringen? Ik zie je graag?
mag ik op je buik slapen?
wat is het nog waard om zwak voor te zijn?
ziek van liefde.
ziek van verdriet.
ziek. misselijk.
The last page had notes on it regarding the quality of downloaded MP3’s I was going to use at a party I was throwing. The rest of it is literally copied, down to the capitalization. There are a few lines here and there that I wouldn’t be quite content with today, but I suppose I didn’t give much of a damn back then. Funny thing is, as I read them I can look right through them, because even though I wouldn’t come up with them today, they are still mine. Some expressions are pulled straight from situations in my life that have lasted with me ever since they occurred. They have a double, underlying meaning to me, writing something different beside it that you need my method of thinking for to see.
The first whatever-you-wanna-call-it is about my mother. I can’t recall when exactly, but it was a very busy period in my life. I was sitting on my friend’s balcony actually, he was out to work and let me sleep so I woke up in an empty place. I took my time relaxing and even sort of meditating, and my mind drifted to her rather quickly.  When asking if she can see me that speaks for itself, but as I am today, I wasn’t sure if she would be pleased by what she would see. I take pride in a few things, but I know she wouldn’t agree with a whole number of others. To be honest with you, I really don’t want to know. She is kept in my memory in the shape of a goddess, which is fine by me.
Second one is addressed to my girlfriend, though she never got to read it. As said before we were apart for a while then, and despite her new boyfriend (which tore my heart clean out) she kept in contact, up to the point where I would, in my thoughts at least, have hurt her badly to keep her away from my agonizing self.
Number three. I wrote this one when my father was sick, and coughing his lungs out. I was catching it too but obsessed with keeping strong as I was back then, I tried to fight it back as much as humanly possible. With my girlfriend gone, I couldn’t find anything to care for me if I couldn’t. I didn’t know where I could be weak, or what for. We were all going to die, crying as on our day of birth. So where does that leave us? Nothing else to cry for, nothing holy to die for.
Reading all this again shocked me quite a bit. I remember being very confused at that time, but I had no idea it was that bad. I had completely forgotten even ever writing this. Proves how valuable it can be writing your thoughts down, I suppose. It’s very easy to lose perspective from where ever you are standing.

It is better to fade away than to burn out.

If you’re going to get into a fight, have the last say. If your boss is going to tell you you’re a lousy scaff team because you’re not holding on to the tower the way he would, make sure to tell him to fuck off.
I don’t know, I’m only human. What I do know is, don’t fucking come tell me I suck at my job when I’m cold, tired, miserable and doing my best to please You. It will go a little something like this.
"You’re the worst scaff team."
– "Will you quit stressing out? We’re doing our best here."
The guy climbs up, yanks what I was holding from my hands and demonstrates a different but equally effective way to pass on scaff pipes. "You’re supposed to stand like this, with your leg over the diagonal."
– "Sure man, whatever makes you happy."
He climbs down, repeating "You’re the worst scaff team."
– "See- that’s what I was saying. Will you shut up?"
– "Well you are. You refuse to handle 3 meter verticals."
– "I can’t balance them. What does it have to do with this, anyway? Others here can, and besides half of your own "hard-core" team can’t work with them either."
– "Back in England-" (This guy is as Belgian as I am)
I’m beginning to get a little pissed, yelling at him from 8 meters up, "Does this seem England to you?? This is Belgium, and we’re your crew."
– "I used to work at RoadRunner and-"
– "I don’t give a single Shit what you did with your life. Honestly."
– "I’m just telling you what your crew boss isn’t."
– "Our crew chief has less experience than I do. And, the critisism she gives is constructive, as opposed to the moaning you’re giving us. Call the office, they sent me here knowing my capabilities. Don’t come piss to us."
My colleague kept gesturing at me "Cool iiiit…" but I had it. And I had the last say, too. All he could come up with was a green little chuckle.
I’m beginning to think my job at RoadRunner has peaked. This conversation summarizes my day perfectly (Oh no wait. Add wet clothes, icy rain and hard wind to it) and it’s the first this month (The 17th). After having done Tool, Rock Werchter and a few others I had my goals set on, I’m getting the feeling I’ve pretty much seen it. It’s not a matter of giving up, more like moving on. I would love to start at a record store or something, take it easy for a while.
Okay, you don’t get the work-out, pretty awesome colleagues and free concerts, but things are gradually getting so slow I’m beginning to wonder if it’s still worth the trouble. I’m broke, frustrated and I spend my days at home without job. This year’s annual "raise" was the introduction of a new system that, in the long run, left me with less money than before. They’re fucking me over and it’s starting to get a little sore.
Maybe it’s temporary, I sure hope so. If only a few details were different and I’d do this for the rest of my life.
Meh. Could, would, should. We’ll see what the future brings.

What was I saying.

If being depressed wasn’t such a hell to go through, it would actually be a quite interesting state of mind. I can count the times I’ve had to experience it on one hand: I got lucky, considering the heterogeneous life I’ve had so far.
Nevertheless, these periods are cut in my memory like grooves in an old record. It comes and goes, really. One moment you’re fine, not great but good enough; and the other, the sky turns grey, and the impression that no change is possible is so real, that there really Is no way out.
It’s funny. I’m not sure about anyone else, but in my case, a single word or action at the right moment makes the difference between getting lost in this shit you’re sinking in, and, well, not getting lost. I often say 2 events/people "saved my life" at a certain point, at least my life then, but that would be an understatement. There were actually 3, and it seems all 3 have decided to pop by and stir up some memories and emotions once again.
One of them is my last shrink. My father went through quite some trouble to figure out what was "wrong with me", which lead me to believe something was wrong with me in the first place. Psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, I’ve seen it all. I went to a rehab centre for over a year where I had to make puzzles and I still don’t know what I was recovering from. I walked around with wires glued in my hair for 4 days, and a tape recorder tied to my hip, which broke and made the whole experiment a failure. When I asked why, I was told it was because of my "school grades", which were at the time over 80%. I had to do a grade over again, for reasons I’m still not told.
Anyway. Though the means hardly shifted, the goal did. My last shrink, a family therapist, was hired to save our non-existent family. He was the father of my good friend at the time (and a good friend of my father) and had the nickname "Stone". Though he never accomplished jack shit with us, I’d recommend him to anyone, he’s the only man with his education that I know who thinks outside the box.
I was in boarding school that year. A place filled with outcasts and problem children, and still, I couldn’t find a single person to relate to. I befriended 2 hooligans, which I hung out with most of the time, but good mates as they were they weren’t the kind to discuss the meaning of life with.
Anyway, to the point. There I was, going to see Stone every week, twice a week at one point. I had personally given up on our family by then, but I had my own demons I was more than happy to share with him, for the simple reason that there was no one else to do so. Come to think of it, that might have helped me more than the physical answers he gave me for my questions, and inevitably I came to him one day with The Question To Rule Them All (nerd joke): Why do we live. I had figured most of it out myself already: There might be a reason for life in general, but why we consciously experience our own, which is only a formality and too little a deal to put such complex matter into, he pointed out that I was asking the wrong question.
Shrinks are weird people. Psychiatry is a science, but unlike other sciences they don’t focus on the objective reality, they focus on the subjective experience of it. So he asked me the question that really mattered: "What purpose does life have, For You?" Since there is no logically thinkable reason to give your life meaning, you are automatically granted the priceless gift to give it a meaning of your own, and decide for yourself what you want your life to be remembered as.
The shroud was lifted. Suddenly, the world came into view, like a lens suddenly focusing. It opened the door to the line of thought I experience the world with today, and shaped me the person I am today. Whether I’m any good stays in the middle, but I can tell you my mind is much more open that it would have been if he wasn’t around to guide me that single step.
I ran into him last week. I was both amused and disappointed to see he hardly recognized me, come to think of it he couldn’t remember my name, even. But that’s alright. We as people don’t matter, to the world it wouldn’t have made a difference if we never met. But to me it would; I owe this man my life.
There are two more girls (not counting my girlfriend, who, let’s be honest, deserves just as much credit) who fit a similar description, without a doubt you’ll find me writing about them soon enough.
I was asked about my religious beliefs the other day. It made my day, since I am always intensely interested in religious discussions. When I responded I am agnostic, I got the usual question: What the heck is that.
So let’s get it clear, first: Agnostic, NOUN: A word first used by Professor Huxley, to indicate one who believes nothing which cannot be demonstrated by the senses.
Easy, right? Not perfectly what I believe but it’s the closest. So why do people find that so amazing? I’m sorry, honestly, but I can’t believe in something that doesn’t make any logical sense whatsoever. And fucking YES, I believe evolution makes sense because I did Research on the matter before making up my Own damn mind. It seems like a common theme among those so eager to save my soul: They don’t even know what evolution means, making stupid fucking remarks like "Oh, I’m more evolved than you." Very few have even read the bible, for that matter. They piss about how it’s the word of God and they don’t even know what the word is. It could be a bundle of cast-out Islamic pornography, and They Wouldn’t Know! Can you see the humor? They sure as shit can’t.
Anyway, I’m off track. The girl in question, believing in "something" but not accepting the bible as truth (just like about a careful 75% of us Europeans), asked why I couldn’t just give it a shot, "To be sure when you die". Now, I love my life, and no matter how much the knowledge of death coming closer gives me nightmares, I just can not believe there is anything beyond. It’s not Logic. It’s not True. Truth is logic, and the arrogant assumption (because an assumption is all it is) that there is a god, who looks like us (since he made us in his image), picks sides in our wars, and then calls wrath a deadly sin.
So here’s what I believe in:
Origin: You consist of matter, 16 billion years old, forged in the very first stars, the first "thing" to be born after the big bang. One-in-infinity chance coincidence has created life and granted us, unworthy and mostly ungrateful little fucks the gift of life.
God: God does not exist as the author of the bible. He doesn’t watch over us; he doesn’t pick sides in war, he doesn’t speak to us. But still, there is an entity around us, surrounding us, being us. The whole of mathematical scheme that draws you and me, the ocean’s ripples, the twinkling of stars.
Afterlife: If you’ve ever been unconscious, try and recall that feeling. Not aware, not mentally here. Darkness. What happens is, our body, captivated for years by our own will, is given back to that inconceivably big whole of formulas and equations, and our matter is dispersed to form the building stones of life to come. In that sense, we have always existed and we will always be remembered.
Agnosticism, and the (founded!) belief in logic, can be many times more poetic than the bible, and anything Big Brother had to tell us in the past.