It is my day off today. Yesterday was also my day off. Yesterday I went to the port & fish market and found myself a little boutique sea-food restaurant and slurped myself a fish sopa (fish soup) served by a lovely old woman that reminded me of my mum.
Today is my day off.
I say this as if every day was not a day off for me – but the duties at ‘Un Techo’ do impart my days with a semblance of order. The week is not a homogeneous gray. There is a start (Monday) and I have weekends. Admittedly Fridays do lack that ‘something’ that a proper job gives them. What I mean to say is that when Friday comes I don’t realise it. I am a man of leasure now. An emperor of time. Laying waste to huge tracts of time. The future stretches as far as the eye can see – like the azure sea speckled by the white surf – that I can see from the cafe window as I write these words.
It is my day off today. I am sitting in the theatre cafe of Puerto Montt’s only theatre. I am enjoying a Dessayuno (breakfast) of black coffee, orange juice and toast with jam and butter. I am listening to Coldplay’s ‘Us and the world’ (see below). A song of such profound beauty that it is touching these words with some inexplicable rhythmn and sadness.
I am alone. Just me against the world. I am staring through the window: at the families on their way to Christmas shopping, the couples, the friends, the people with business to attend to.
Peoples with lives.
Lives with purpose.
Lives with patterns and shapes and structure.
Patterns determined by the week, the month – patterns determined by family and the everyday rhythms of life: the school run, the work week, the visit to the in-laws, the church, the weekly shopping run.
A ship tossed on the vast ocean of life. Tossed hither and thither. A ship without anchor. A ship with sails unfurled fighting the wind and currents. The rocks ahead my destination – where my ship will hurl itself to bits. As it will with everyone else.
Please don’t think I am sad. These words might appear melancholy and dark but I am feeling mighty contented. I have glimpsed the infinite indifference of the universe. I have glimpsed the cold heartedness of creation. And it don’t scare me one bit. I have peered through the curtain and seen what’s on the other side. And I shrug my shoulders.
I saw that indifference of the universe close up in a skinny little dog at a children’s Christmas party at one of the camps. There was food on the table, and the skinny little dog kept coming in to sniff the delicious food scented air – but it was kicked out again. But it kept coming in. It wouldn’t give up. I watched it – this dog – this skinny, wretched, poor, little thing – it’s body shaking from fear of being kicked again – driven by wants and needs and instincts that it couldn’t possibly understand or comprehend. It reminded me of us. Are we not all that wretched dog? Kicked about here and there, driven by insatiable appetites. Prisoners of our bodies and minds. In chains to things we barely understand.
And in that instant – I felt deep compassion for that dog – and deep compassion for all my fellow beings on this earth. Forced to fend for ourselves in a life we have no say in. We toil for all sorts of things: jobs, promotion, peace, respect, love, meaning, fame and fortune. Does it mean anything in the end? When its all over what remains? What is the final total? The final tally? Not even memories of the good times.
Life is a theatre show we pay to watch – we pay with our endless struggles – and the show is full of sadness with the occasional gilded ray of sunshine, and in the end the show ends. And we crawl out of the theatre on our knees, struggling, kicking and screaming – and then it’s all over. THE END. All memories of us having lived erased. All our achievements, pleasures, loves and passions wiped out in an instant.
‘And if we could float away
Fly up to the surface and just start again
And lift off before trouble
Just erodes us in the rain
Through chaos as it swirls
It’s just us against the world’
It is my day off today. But surely we should view everyday as a day off.
‘Carpe diem – live everyday as if it is your last’ (Seneca)