“How’s it going Steve, I haven’t seen you for ages?” is the unintentionally robotic greeting that I am inevitably met with, followed by “What you up too?” This happens on almost all occasions when I find myself unable to avoid a social function. I, presumably like other people whose lives aren’t sailing along nicely, give the polite answers expected; “Oh, okay; this and that”, when nothing could be further from the truth. Similarly hollow questions would never be asked of somebody, whose partner had just died, or their house repossessed and business in receivership. Depression is an invisible illness. Depressed, unemployed and living in almost complete isolation, save consultations with doctors, one encounters dark and suicidal thoughts. Clearly, battling with ones inner mental turmoil, alongside addiction is not a consideration of those who ask.
I sometimes find myself playing truth or dare (without the dare) and when asked, ‘you alright?’ I look at the enquirer, stony faced, and answer, ‘No!’; leaving an awkward silence and the questioner not knowing how to continue the conversation. For the facts of the matter are that I’m not alright and the only thing I do from the confines of my self induced isolation is write an occasional blog entry, and when the mental fog clears, allows me to finish it. The similarly vacuous platitude, ‘We must get together for a coffee some time’, when you both know that you have no intentions of meeting up, falls into the same category of polite conversation. I suppose the scales of apathy are strictly tilted in my direction, after all it isn’t the responsibility of my counterpart to understanding my depressed isolation. Hence the easiest way of avoiding vacuous questions is to remain in social isolation on a diet of Morphine, Benzodiazepines and Antidepressants.
Life in all its many forms; animate and inanimate, from the unimaginable small building blocks of particle physics to the infinite beauty of the Cosmos beyond, from a flower bursting fourth from its bud, a basking Dragon Fly awaiting the moment its wings are dry enough for it to take to the sky, to the rainbow of autumnal colours and the dust clouds of distant nebula beyond hold an infinite beauty. One does not need to be either a scientist or traveller to appreciate this beauty.
It is not hard to understand why, for all its destructiveness, explorers in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries collected specimens on mass in order to show their contemporaries the strange diversity that existed in far away places, after all would you have believed in the existence of the Duck Billed Platypus had you not actually seen one? Now, however, due to the wonders of the technology operating because of the strange properties of the Quantum Theory, we are all able to experience nature’s beauty, albeit from the point of view of a camera combined with the comforting tones of David Attenborough. Perhaps we are spoiled, being in a position from which to see the actuality of what beauty lays beyond our horizon, especially as there are still billions for whom the beauty of our planet is pushed further down their agendas as they pick through rubbish tips salvaging what they can to afford a cup of rice from which they may need to feed a whole family.
I should be grateful for the facility to watch the beauty of our planet whilst eating a pre-prepared meal from a super market, which is certainly thrown into perspective by the considerations above; yet, somehow, I remain dissatisfied with my circumstances……
Although the immediate pharmacological concerns of my basic health needs are catered for, along with food, shelter and the other western necessities to which one is accustomed, I still feel I need more. It can it be attributed to the greed that western capitalism has allowed us the time to develop that makes depression possible? It is, however, for me, a reminder that I am trapped; cocooned in this man made shell, for I too would like to experience, first hand, the rain forests of Borneo, the remnants of ancient civilisations in South America, Asia and the Middle East. I yearn to see the Northern Lights and watch pods of Whales majestically swimming in synchronisation. To fly over the Grand Canyon and stand in proximity to feel first hand the power of Victoria or Niagara Falls; the list is almost endless, and, given an inexhaustible cash flow, would still not have the time to experience them all.
Reality is not something I would advise devoting much time to. Because the reality, for most of us, makes us the victim of globalisation whereby to feed the machine we are tied to a banal existence, the reward for most is one, or maybe two weeks restitution packaged, door to door, by a travel agent. If you happen to be in that majority, many of whom can barely afford their electricity bill, then your future is already written. You will be enslaved by an employer who is unlikely to know your name, let alone the state of your welfare or that of your family, and nor does he care. You are a small component in a machine expected to work at maximum efficiency and like a worn out bearing in an engine the minute your efficiency falls below the benchmark on a spreadsheet, you will be replaced.
Those in power, who govern, do so without a mandate, moving ever closer to the Orwellian nightmare whilst distracting the electorate with meaningless statistics, manufactured half truths and disinformation designed to turn neighbour against neighbour. Whilst the political mud slinging fills the mundane news, most of which is simply ignored, the rest of the globally corrupt iceberg continues unseen, making a chosen few rich off the profits of war, terror and human misery. And in order for them to continue they need a subdued population. They take what they wish from what you have earned, do as they wish with it whilst continually preaching the mantra that we are all at the precipice and must continue to operate the machine at an ever increasing cost. They will do this to you until you reach an age they have decided; currently 67, 68 or even 69, at which point they will tell you that the vast sums of money they have taken from you was not enough. They will provide you with a small amount of money that is barely enough to survive on then let you spend the 4,5 or 6 years you have left doing as you choose. Then, should you have been in the fortunate position to have acquired any wealth through property, they will take half of it before allowing you to give it to your children.
To me this does not seem to be a life. It is more akin to slavery where, without any choice, you must work for your master, allowing your master to achieve great wealth whist making your existence just about possible.
I don’t believe I will ever experience any of the worldly beauty I described above. In fact, I believe I have experienced it as closely as I ever will through the medium of television. Therefore, I see little if any point in contributing to the machine and will, at some chosen point exit this world, and perhaps in hundreds of billions of years, the energy I give back to the universe will recombine in some other entity and experience the magic at first hand, or be a part of it……