There’s something wrong with the way we exist. What is it exactly? its difficult to articulate, it evades capture, stare at the problem too long and it shifts its weight out of sight. The problem exists in the peripheries, its ephemeral, hovering over us like a dim mist, insoluble, incurable, irresolute. We can sense it, fogging our view like condensation on a windscreen, we swipe at it, try to clear the way, but our breath soon re-fogs the glass. We are the solution and the causation. There’s something wrong, we don’t quite understand what.
I have always been a stoic fella, stiff upper lip, keep calm and carry on kinda fella. I have always been uncomfortable opening up. Its not that I shut people out, I’m more subtle than that. Rather I have become adept at shifting the focus upon the other participant, we talk about how they feel and what’s going on in their lives, all the while I listen and sympathise, nod and shake at the correct moments and offer my two cents when its requested. Thus giving the illusion that we have shared and engaged with each other in a mutually reciprocal conversation, all the while I have revealed nothing about myself, spoke no words that could be personally incriminating. I know this is unhealthy, I should open up more, seek the guidance and support of others, I just don’t like others knowing the truth. The truth that I am struggling. Struggling to come to terms with my regrets, struggling with my apathy for everything that my future seems to have on offer. Struggling with who I am as a person. I live through the portrait others have painted of me; confident, self assured, comfortable in my own skin. What happens when I contradict this image? When the colour starts to fade and run, what will be left of me then? It is only the illusion of strength which keeps me strong.
I have started to chip tentatively away at the flaking corners. Always in a jovial half cocked sort of way. Always under the safety blanket of a few units of alcohol. I have admitted to those few confidants closest to me that maybe, just perhaps, in the smallest most insignificant sense of the word, that I may not be okay. Each time I do so I can feel my state of being fraying at the seams. There is a tidal wave damned behind the paper thin mask I don against the public eye. Each time I twitch the valve to relieve the pressure I can feel the damn cracking. Hairline fractures snake across the interior of my face. There is a deeper storm coming, I can feel it caked thick in the air.
What I have found as I start to open up more, is that I am not alone. A fog of foreboding laces itself deep into the air of all those around me. There is something wrong. We all go through life as best we can. We work jobs which keep up fed and dry, search for the elusive career to drive us forward. We seek out friendships, relationships, quick fucks and brief encounters that we hope will fulfil and nourish our souls. We engage in activities, travel, sports, drinking in our quest to ascribe purpose to our lives. Like pieces of a jigsaw we fumble in the dark to form the idea of a picture. But there are no edges, no boundaries against which we can build and measure our completeness. We are a jumble of ill fitting and misshapen squares forming a fraction of an infinite whole. The more I open up, the more others do too. The more we talk the less we comprehend.
What is wrong with the way we live that so many of us are unbearably unhappy? Perhaps we are square pegs, being forced into circular holes. Perhaps we don’t want to fit through the hole in the first place. We talk so much. About our ups and downs, our hopes and fears, our experiences and our boredom. We talk to make sense of it all, to find commonality and companionship. There are so many words, even more combinations, we may express ourselves in an unimaginable number of ways, and yet when it comes to the crux of it, when we try to breathe life into the void which dwells all around us, words fail us. There’s something wrong with the way we live, what is it?