And

And it happened. I don’t know when, cannot point at the moment it did, when something, an indefinable, nebulous and known something slipped from between my fingers, a hot golden sand that I could no longer hold.

One minute I had it, the next I didn’t. I feel the space inside me, once occupied, growing and suffocating. This didn’t bother me. Until now. I didn’t lose my life’s rhythm, never missed a step. The chasm gnaws at me, dragging its claws across my conscience and tickling me cold.

And I have to get it back. I think I know how I lost it, or rather, misplaced it. I’m out of touch with myself, self-absorbed to the point of losing myself… to myself. Narcissism knows no limits, disguising itself as nothing more than confidence and introspection.

But, how can you be confident, how can you claim you’re self-aware, if you can’t see what you’re doing to yourself, can’t see how you lacerate yourself? I’ve been buried in my mind too deep and too long. It’s time to step out and step back into the beautiful and ugly mess that is the world.

And I’m flaming out. My edges are burned, the fire of the thoughts I should escape from slowly consume me. I try to run and instead rub against a sandpaper universe I can do nothing about.

And maybe this is why folding into myself is appealing: I can control what goes on within. At least I think I can, however time has shown me that often this isn’t so. Emotions often take on their own lives.

And I still don’t know what to do. With one hand I’ll reach into myself and with the other, I’ll grab onto the rough branches of the earth’s dry tree, never completely giving myself over, swinging between equally misleading worlds, hoping to find a balance and reclaim the spaces inside, fill them with better than vain dreams and indulgent desires.

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I Miss Home

I call my parents over weekends, usually on Saturdays, less so on Sundays. I start with my father, sometimes I start with Mum. She and I exchange text messages often so this seems fair. On a few of the Sunday calls, after the obligatory pleasantries, she will ask if I went to church. She knows the answer. I did not.

She will laugh and make a joke about how I am a young man in a big city and I have things to do. I will laugh along with her, hiding the true reason I did not go to church. I cannot bring myself to tell her that I lost my faith, that I no longer believes in the things she believes in.

There are weekends I will have been out on Saturday night, all the way into the wee hours of Sunday. Rousing myself in the early afternoon from exhausting sleep, I reach for my phone to see how my parents are doing. Most Sunday mornings, I have a leisurely breakfast of copious amounts of black coffee or tea, read a bit, or maybe watch a cartoon and nap on and off.

It is as if in the deep hopeful part of her, she wants me to go back, back to being a good Christian boy. Maybe a shared religion would be one way to reconnect with me, her only son. We used to be close, then I grew up and built walls around myself. There are parts of me my parents, close as we are, cannot get to. It is not something we have ever talked about or that they have wondered out loud, how I can love and care deeply at arm’s length.

And then I moved out. She feels the distance. It probably pains her, that I have grown wings in addition to walls.

Whenever I go home, she insists I stay longer. I would love to, for more than two or three days. I do not. My little sister comes alive when I am home. She runs to greet me when I walk into the compound if she is not at school and always asks whether I have brought her new cartoons (this is our shared intimacy). She piles on to my mother’s gentle exhortations.

The exigencies of a young and working life impose themselves, bearing down even on my conscience, numbing it a little. I could work from home if I really wanted to. I am not brave enough to ask to work remotely, even for a week. Instead, twice weekly phone calls, with the weekend ones being longer, suffice. This is what I tell myself.

Would that we could

Recently I travelled to a warmer place, where the pace is gentler, where the people seem friendlier. The food there is better (at least what I ate) and more varied and cheaper. The beer there is also cheap! The most expensive drink I had there went for the equivalent of three hundred shillings.

I was doing the same work I do here but more intensely. For some reason I did not feel the sense of emptiness and exhaustion that characterizes this kind of work, the feeling what I am doing is ultimately futile and one day I will wake up and realize I have wasted my life.

I felt lighter. Some cosmic weight had been sloughed off my shoulders, even though I was staring at a command line for most of the time and I worked longer and harder than I have since the first few months after I got this job. In those quiet spaces of my mind and in the chilled air-conditioned office, I could see myself slowing down. Stepping off the hamster wheel no longer felt like an impossibility.

Not having to rush, not worrying and over-analysing, going with whatever flow you find yourself in, taking time with your meal, savouring a turn of phrase in a book, closing your eyes and feeling and listening to the breeze as it whispers through the trees.

To step off and away from the world even for a day. To abandon the careening ride of emotions and thoughts that constantly plague us, to feel deeply while at the same time feel nothing. The clichés are “to let go” and “to just be”. To stop running in circles. To be still enough to find meaning in the mundane, to not experience the mundane as merely mundane.

A close friend shares these sentiments. We agree we could both use a change of scene. We fantasize about going somewhere no one knows us, no one knows our sins and our flaws, where can start afresh and build new lives. Would that we could.

And we can be more empathetic. Empathy and understanding do not mean that you condone the actions of the people that you understand — but if you don’t understand them how can you change them? How can we help each other if we’re all stuck in our own echo chambers, not listening? How does change happen if we block somebody whose opinions we don’t like? How do we change their opinion? How do we have our opinions changed when they need changing if we don’t listen? – Dain Saint

Full post >> We Can Be Better by Dain Saint