Puzzle pieces in motion is a literary and visual exploration of the self, the world and everything in between. Initiated as a place to express thoughts and share ideas, it has slowly transformed to more than that. It became a humble tribute to the written word, the beauty of the world and the complexity that is the human existence.
Mercilessly tucked in between the red backs of my Tintin comics, the binders filled with my old drawings and the random little tidbits I gathered throughout life, are a few plain-looking shoe cartons. It was a long time since they contained shoes. Instead, they have become museums of sorts. Or rather they are like those sad storage facilities for objects their owners no longer want to see, but don’t have the heart to get rid of.
Each box contains a particular scene from my life. Playing a sick role as a window into a part of soul that died a long time ago: A time in school, a place I used to live, a failed relationships, a dream I woke up from.
I could exaggerate and claim that browsing the content is like eating ice cream with cyanide, where the cold pleasure numbs the taste of bitter almonds. It would be right up my alley to exaggerate in favour of enhancing the artistic expression, but the truth is that I feel very little sentiment looking through their content. My feelings are more on an intellectual side. The boxes are the undeniable truth that nothing lasts forever. Nothing lasts even for a little while. Life is continuously ever-changing.
It is alien to see a younger me staring back from the company of people who today could not be described as anything but strangers. It is awkward to browse through my old thoughts written in small, black journals. Sometimes I am surprised at their sagacity but most of the time appalled by the naivety of my younger self. However, it is the seemingly never-ending stream of postcards and love letters written by people who I don’t even know if they are still alive, that is the most absurd of the trip down memory lane: knowing that I must have written just as many back. Eternalised on paper is affection, desires, snippets of heart and soul. I can’t help but wonder if my responses are tucked into oversized envelops, shoe cartons and hidden away on some attic somewhere; my feelings as alien to their recipients as they would be to me or if the words are as thrown away and destroyed as their sentiments…
Weighing like a stone around my ankles, while sinking, is: what does perseverance mean if ever-changing is the only truth?
It was a long time since I made a new shoe box. Still, past feelings linger on occasion as a persistent virus. But I care significantly less than my younger self and I am cruel to a hopeless case meaning that the few memories that leech onto objects are thrown out with them. I really can’t judge if this is liberation or damnation. I guess it does not really matter, if ever-changing is the only truth, the answer to this should also change. A new day dawns.
Today I woke up to vivid dreams building heavily from passed experiences. Dreams that never happend in real life but that was close enough to reality for me to not question their validity neither in my sleep nor as I woke up.
Still half a sleep my dreams lingered as waves slowly returning to the ocean. The feelings they elicited still soak the sand yet the illusion drew back into the subconscious. During the early hours of the morning it made me question when things die. When things end. Even if a wave is long gone, the water lingers on the shore.
Having a hate-love relationship to the past, it is an undeniable truth that wet sand provides a substantially more stable path to walk.
I haven’t been writing much lately. Inspiration left me long ago to go fuck someone else into mediocre poetry or some bullshit paragraphs of gibberish no-one reads. In her place, the brain-dead nothingness of a purposeless life has made herself ever-present in my flesh. It crawls under the surface as a leech, sucking the soul straight out of my blood. It eats me up, not because I cannot find a purpose, but because I am convinced that there is none. Life is inherently devoid of meaning and I can’t for the life of me ignore that that fact bothers me.
My job at the university ended a few weeks ago and I am pursuing a random career building a tech start-up with some really amazing people and a product that does not yet exist. I am excited about it, yet confused and lost. It is a dance in the dark, on a wire miles up in the clouds. I am at a loss as to whether my work is helpful for the case at all. But that’s hardly a new feeling. My academic achievements leave me feeling a mixure of unjustified confidence and intoxicating insecurity. While I feel like a sailer lost at sea, I am glad I followed Don Quijote’s advice and jumped the sinking ship of Academia. Truth is I am immensely grateful that I have been offered an opportunity such as this. I was kissed by lady luck and seduced into the void of uncertainty. If the wire carries me for a while, I guess that’s all I could ever expect from anything in life. And when it breaks, I guess I will be forced to yet again make a new life for myself.
This is a fascinating thought that connects to a remarkable thought I had the other day. As awoken by enlightenment, I found myself baffled by the obvious fact that in 15 years I will be 47 years old. 15 years is a long time and to be 47 is still a young age. For the first time in as long as I can remember I was given a sense of how “life goes on”. Whether I strived to live in the moment or not, I somehow never expected life to continue. I always assumed that it would end long before I was ever finished with anything in particular. That judgement day would whip us all out in a second flooding. Instead I find myself living. Living longer than I consciously expected and I am confused as what this means for my future. It’s like a joke: Life: “So what happens now?” Me: “Frankly, I never expected to get this far”. And looking at all this future, I am filled with an immense sense of loss of direction. I find it frustrating that I have no goal, no purpose, no desires to pursue. Desperately I search for something to hold on for a sense of meaning, but even pure hedonistic pleasure gives me little motivation at this point. Perhaps displaying a more vulnerable side of myself I found myself once again unable to hide my feelings and even Mr. Broccoli who sometimes see what he wants to see, noticed the darkness behind my eyes.
To escape myself for a while I’ve planned a visit to Pandabear and Bambi in Barcelona once again. I was suppose to travel to some grand, far away place, maybe visit Radagast, but my mother gave me a hard time about it and subdued by my own anhedonia I could just not be bothered to fight for it. I am drained of too much blood to dare a fight. Instead I devote myself to Netflix escapism, in line with things that are comfortable. My life is an arraw of the most amazing, mindblowing events and scenarios, of opportunities beyond all expectations. Yet wrapped in all these extraordinary things it does nothing to elevate my excitement. I fear that perhaps I have numbed myself beyond recognition by sending my once high ideals down into the pits of Hell. Perhaps I’ve doomed myself beyond rescue by no longer believing.
I’m heading for a cliff’s edge where no bridges have been built. I worry, not to fall over, but to foolishly stand there looking over the drop.
I’m on a pursuit for a path that not only feds the passing of time, but leads to a destination. Only, I realise that while time passes whether we want to or not, destinations are only halts we do not leave. There is no purpose in choosing left or right, only between going and stopping. Whether you are there yet, is entirely up for you to decide.
I listen to some of my best friends speak with such excitement about searching for a job that pays better, a car that run smoother, a new pair of shoes, a house with a larger kitchen, to get married-have kids-have another one, to get another badge on the resume, or to f*ck someone new… A sort of upgrade from the current state of things based on the imbalance of discontent and the pursuit of more. Their stable lifestyle making them arrogant, disconnected from the reality of their blessings, their comfortable beds and their luxury food a right, not a gift. Is this what happiness is: more? The temporary joy of upgrading your life through things and other people…
I’ve started to ask myself not who do I want to be, but rather who do I wish I was, when I die. Only, I struggle to understand what will matter then, as I do not know what really matters now.
All I can tell is that I’m desperate for anything larger than the fleeting joy of buying a pretty refrigerator or the unjustified excitement of kissing someone who doesn’t know your last name. Instead, I take my pills as I have them; I shower and put on my face, sometimes sleep next to someone who keeps the bed warm, I escape to locations where no-one knows my past, and buy cheap junk from China that I too often almost immediately throw away. Temporary contentment, a plastic purpose manufactured for the masses, a pornography-style orgasm.
Bambi once told me to see the joy in drinking my morning coffee, so she and Pandabear give me beans from their exotic destinations. I know, I am spoiled by a lifestyle where I need not fight for food or shelter and I acknowledge my blessings. Yet, it is my greatest fear to become a person only in pursuit of more instead of something real. Right now I fear that, all my possible destination, left or right, to stop or continue, all are shaded with the tint of more. A lost soul for believing, I wonder: Is there perhaps nothing else?
A while back I was reminded of a past situation as the head of a man I first could not recall, popped through my open door and called for my attention.
Approximately two year ago I was woken up in the middle of the night by a woman’s frightened screams and a man’s desperate pleading. I remember the stranger’s words, in bad English they sounded: “I ask you, like a sister, to show me the way”. She, increasingly frightened, told him in equally bad English that she has no money. “Let me go” she shoutedand her screams grew louder and his pleading more desperate. Now frightened myself, I quickly got my phone, put on a bathrobe and without any idea of what sight that would greet me outside my door I hesitantly opened it. Running through my mind was whether me and the woman could fight this man alone, if need be. Is he by himself? How big is he? As the door swung open, the woman had already escaped into the house and instead two male neighbours stood there with their fists raised. It was a pathetic sight. Two fat, 6 foot tall German guys vs. one tiny Middle-Eastern looking man weighing no more than me. The stranger posed no threat. Drunk, or high, he was desperate for something, something hostility could not silence.
“I am a human!” he exclaimed to the men defending the house. “Treat me like a human!” I agreed with him, and still do. As he stepped closer one of the men shoved him away using too much strength. He fell hard on the asphalt. Once again he came closer and this time received a punch in the face. It was badly directed and I suspect it hurt the German as much to deliver it, as it did the stranger to receive it. I could not help but feel that he just wanted to be a hero. I became strangely pleased to see him hurt from his overreaction. I tried to tell the men that the stranger is just a desperate man, but my words did not do my thoughts justice. But then again neither did my feelings: I was frightened from being woken up to face an unknown, hostile situation; I was ashamed how strangers are greeted in our society; and I am empathetic towards a screaming woman who’d been followed to her doorstep by a drunk stranger, an inexcusable trespass.
Then right there, when my neighbour put his head through my door to thank me for my help that evening, I could sense the burning pride in his voice. He felt like a man. He had protected his tribe… It makes me feel even more ashamed that I had not more successfully meddled that night, perhaps offered the stranger food, or listen to him for a word or two of his painful desperation.
We are too good at forgetting the pain in other peoples’ purposeless existence, and too bad at remembering our own insignificance.
The moment in which Audrey succumbs to her carnal affection for Agent Cooper he tells her: “Secrets are dangerous things Audrey”, and as the story unfolds Audrey’s dangerous duality is only bested by a dead girl (Twin Peaks s.1 ep.6). In Stevenson’s book, Dr. Jekyll is haunted by his own inner shadow. A manifestation for inner evils that bubbles under the meek Doctor’s skin.
We often think that we know people. Friends and family show their face to us, their behaviour. Still I feel a stranger to the closest of people. My mother recently told me she was exposed to a new side of me. A side she never seen and I could tell that she did not “approve” – in lack of a better word. My father as well, often looks at me puzzled. And I wonder, how is it that the people who know me the best, still appear to know me so poorly. Am I hiding myself, with secrets, dishonestly? or do we simply see what we want, rather than what others truly are?
I guess things are never really what they seem. Too often I have fooled myself by sticking to strongly to what I wanted, to what I expected, rather than looking with open eyes at the situation. As Mr. Hyde runs down the streets in the story, I wonder if Stevenson chose for the passerbyers not recognise the good doctor simply because they “would not”, not because they “could not”, blinded by expectation. Jekyll makes up excuses to release his inner demon, and whether he truly fools his desire is irrelevant, the readers are not fooled: he enjoys it.
Is this duality of secrets, of dark desires and inner demons part of what it means to be human? To be torn between doing what we want and what others expect of us? The demons whispering in our ears every selfish desire we already considered while the angels try to whip us into altruistic obedience: the jin-jang of the human nature.
It’s a cruel twist that life and her intoxicating ways get us into situations of the most enchanting and arousing character, yet often prohibit us to truly experience them. The devil persists on having the last laugh. Fall into sin, dear children, and forget about enjoy it!
It is true what they say, that the body is weak where the mind is strong. Lingering is not memories of pleasure, but the satisfaction of experience. It’s the proof of the mind’s, perhaps God’s, unyielding dominance. Carnality is in an instant, spirituality, or mentality, lingers.
As I walked on the streets in Madrid, in Milano, throughout the world, the stench of piss and filth encapsulated the experience. The homeless, the abusers, the abandoned, slept on old pizza cartons and mattresses filled with body fluids. I walked past bothered, hardly heartbroken. Ringing in my ear, the choir of heaven: behold the face of humanity, half rotten, half heartless.
I suppose it is unfair to compare the self with this crass view of humanity. Carnality is not filthy and mentality not heartless. Yet sometimes I wonder why there appears such a big gap in the duality of humans. Are we trapped behind the veil of culture that enforces the view that parts of us are sinful? Or is it part of human nature to pursuit an increasing level of carnality in it’s consistent display of habituation? The desperate need to be a Mr. Hyde to escape the prison of being the gloriously perfect Dr. Jekyll?
I fear I have become hedonistic. I no longer pretend to know the border between right and wrong. I’m not sure if it’s experience that subdued me, or if it’s age that taught me the illusions of my ways. I care less for the homeless, the unfortunate, I also care less for myself, which might be the most healthy development. Like the drunkard on the street, I am but a drop in the ocean. The waves will still crash against the rocks, the rain will still fall, regardless if I am part of it or not.
I fear that people who love us only know us from who they want us to be. And I believe that those who despise us only see us for who we could be.
As though a person in love waiting for a scheduled rendezvous, the excitement of my South Africa trip is finally starting to kicking in. As the new day dawns, this feeling for the future will be replaced by the experience of the moment.
The past few weeks I have had little to no time to properly plan the trip other than one skype evening with Mickey Mouse who’s picking me up somewhen along the way.
But before I am to say hi to an old friend who walked out of my life four, or so, years ago. It is strange, only knowing each other for a couple of weeks when both of us were unhappy and desperate for each other’s company. It will be interesting to get to know him now. How he has changed and to see if he notice any difference in me. He is now a father of two, and as he told me it provided me with a jolt of emotions that I could not place. Was it surprise? Jealousy? A feeling of being left behind? In an alternative world his kids could have been my kids, but this was never really an option in this reality. Maybe the feeling of being-the-last-loser-standing was yet again emphasized. But then again, I’m going road trippin’ through South Africa, one of my favourite countries, so clearly my life can’t be any less than awesome.
While we should never live in the past I find the past to be a hard nut to crack. How are we to relate to memories that linger, or even more so to the memories that we forgot…? Why do I stand phased by my own indifference towards moments in my life that once defined my very essence?
It’s like throwing all those love letters I never sent in the bin; to be recycled into gossip magazines, moving boxes and toilet paper. Initially, present is an emotional restraint as if desiring to hold on to the illusion, to the dreams of the past, to who we could have been with this or that recipient. But as the scribbled gibberish of recalled memories, associations and worship leaves your fingers and instead joins the pile of ripped up receipts, old newspapers and deserted sketches there is a disturbing amount of peace present in the generated loneliness.
From the past I still have a guitar, a t-shirt, a pair of pants and one promise likely to never be fulfilled: Enough shallow memories to keep me falling but not nearly enough substantial memories to keep me standing.
The past is like a familiar friend forgotten, the future like an omnipresent stranger.
There is something to be said about the mundane. A charm in the nothingness that happens everyday, in the essence that could be described as nothing less than life.
For a while now this is what has been my bedfellow; the ordinary, the things that will never be put down to memory: Ignoring the things that I dare not give too much emphasis. Not quite living, simply being. It would be easy to say that I want a change, something out of this world to sweep me of my feet, but I’m no longer fifteen and time has showed me that even the extraordinary comes to a halt, transforming into the bland colour of a hospital wall; scratches between genetic paintings and blood splatter that escaped the cleaners. All things end, sometimes too soon, sometimes too late. What is worse: missing what was, or longing for what wasn’t?
Despite desperate need for desertion, life humbles me. I’m reminded that my emotions dream big but that my development is limited by life’s circumstances, and in no way a disadvantageous way. My young ego needs to understand the limitations of what appears in my chest as an old soul. Their compatibility only based on their mutual inescapably. I’m haunted by too many memories of things that could have been great, but either I screwed up, or others did. It’s like a zombie apocalypse: I’m the last one standing, simply dead.
My metabolism is fast. It’s not doing me any favours.
I hate goodbyes. Not because I mind change, or for good things to come to an end. New things are always around the corner. At a third of my life lived, my lifestyle has seen to it that I experience regular goodbyes. Some welcomed, others split the soul in two. Waving to a shadow behind the window of a bus. Waiting on the platform as a train slowly departs.
I hate goodbyes because in that moment, like an invisible thread, there is still something. Then the thread breaks. Sometimes through a clean cut from one, or both ends, or a rip through ever increasing pressure from distance in time and space. Other times the thread is stretched beyond its capacity, thinning it ever so slightly, until all that remains is pale comparison of the thread that once were. I hate goodbyes because I know this is what’s coming.
A friend of mine is going through a divorce. As one of the last singles standing, I used to joke that I was looking forward to when my friends approached 50 percent divorce rate. Too often many of them have condescendingly told me to get my life in order, to do this and that: to get a man. It was a misguided pleasure to imagine that their projected perfect world would fall to pieces. The joke was, and is, in poor taste and it leaves a sour flavour as my friend, on the verge of tears, tells me s/he does not know what to do, only that it cannot go on any further. I imagine that the thread already broke, not by growing distance, but by accumulated weight…
A while back Kushtaka asked me why I shun intimacy. Blessed, or cursed, with my own world, I found it almost ironic that it was not obvious. But Kushtaka is young and as a tear escapes my smile he catches it with surprise before he leaves.
They are roughly my age. In worn clothes and dirty backpacks they hang like teenagers in shade of the trees across from the restaurant where we’re eating lunch. They are as barefoot as the kind-looking, but dirty, dogs they have with them. Their ‘too-cool-for-school’ body language portrays a desire for freedom through revolt against society, but to me, an outsider, it looks more like the prison of substance abuse. They are on the border when they can still return to a clean life, to walk the line, to turn away from the bonds and heal from the demons that binds them. Few of them probably will, trapped in their own repulsion for getting in line.
Sitting there I know I am stepping outside the boundaries of ‘my business’. While I understand their need for independence and freedom, they seem prisoners to their own personal reality. They strike me a sad bunch despite their smiles.