- Full of contradictions, like, I just saw a woman eating from a Popeyes box, waiting for the subway, carrying a shopping bag from Gucci.
- Everything seems to be a statement. You can’t just be you, you are nothing but a collection of labels and accessories which comply with your labels.
- I bought into the statement thing: it’s 18:30 and I’m on the subway wearing sunglasses with a cigarette tucked behind my ear.
- Smokers are possibly the worst kind of people alive.
- Feels like trying to be cool is still cool here, which is odd, because nobody who is a grown up wants to be cool back home.
- You can tell who is not a local by whether they jaywalk.
- I have been going to the places he told me about – they feel special because I imagine him there and wonder how he felt back then – whether we feel the same.
I got drunk and puked on the toilet. My friend told me to stop texting and appreciate reality – that’s when it’s most beautiful. For a moment, I felt like I was melting into the walls, into the sofa, into people, into conversations. Things felt at some sort of equilibrium – either the outside matched the chaos inside; or the inside was finally tamed down.
I screamed at someone obscenities in Greek, Portuguese and Italian. I have blurry pictures and a random footage of brilliant minds talking absolute shit. I love it when serious people are still able to generate huge amounts of absurdities.
I slept in a couch, with a pillow over my head so my back hurts but things felt ok. Not just then, temporarily, but also, the future felt ok. A good friend is leaving back to his home country, and it feels somewhat nice that I am sad about it.
This person I know moved back to Switzerland and now lives half of his time in his small hometown, while working in our city the other half. I thought it was strange, at first. But recently, I have been having the urge to go back to a familiar place too. I think about going back to my country. I don’t know what is left for me there, but I guess it’s the closest thing to home, despite my changed mannerisms, the 8 years outdated slang and anglo-influenced linguistic constructions.
Sometimes, when I am heading back to my apartment, I think about spending time with my mother, going to Pingo Doce, disappearing in the streets of the capital and feeling the sun on my skin. I imagine working as a programmer in a small unknown company for a small salary, dealing with data visualisation, python notebooks, well established libraries, and devoid of performance or well-posedness concerns. I imagine feeling content, like I can actually do something and know just enough. I imagine feeling unchallenged and not like a loser. I am ashamed to admit it, but I don’t find as revolting as I used to.
After a ‘break up’ there is all this sexual frustration that masturbation alone does not satisfy. I watch porn, but soon enough it spirals towards this category of weird stuff which is no longer arousing, but rather almost physics and biology defying.
‘What am I doing with my life?’
Then it comes calling up close friends for support, and realising it’s been a while since I found time to see them despite having spent the last weeks with someone I just met. I realize I could have been a better friend.
The hours waiting for a text dilate, as if I happened to find myself hanging out at the edge of a black hole. If my heart were a black hole, would it be because it consumes everything which comes close enough, or because no light shines out of it? I think about breaking the ice and telling this person of this absurd image – they might find it funny and I can’t stand the silence.
Phase two is exercising. It’s hard to overthink when you are gasping for air in the running tracks.
I saw them recently. It was okay, they were okay. We laughed, whatever, it was fine. Maybe my heart is, indeed, a black hole. I understand sometimes the timing is just not right. All my logic tells me that dwelling in certain thoughts is hardly of any help, but I can’t help wondering what is it that I am missing.
In the evening I sat myself down and let some emotions condense into something concrete. It’s been a while since I worked in a new piece. This one is called ‘Fill me up‘ and it depicts the moment leading up to a kiss. Both subjects are missing parts of their bodies. It is a reference to this myth by Aristophanes, that humans had originally four arms, four legs, and a single head made of two faces. The story tells that Zeus, as a punishment for humanity’s pride, split humans in half, thus creating humans with only one set of genitalia, forever longing for their other half; the other half of their soul. I feel like often, we are just missing something, hoping to find someone to alleviate the void.
I know, if only I loved myself a bit more, I would be less tempted to find salvation in others. I wonder if this could have been the case too, that if they too loved themselves a bit more, they would have believed someone was willing to accept their incompleteness.
I firmly reject the idea of destiny – but it’s hard to believe all this was by chance.
There are crowds and crowds of people standing around as we try to make our way through the other side of the city. Züri Fäscht is a festival that occurs every 3 years. Around 10 pm fireworks rip through the skies to the beat of pop music and, like radiative colourful Xanax, everybody quiets down and observes these explosions. I heard someone say that it’s estimated that around 2 million people will have been in Zürich this weekend – that’s almost 7x the amount of people living in this city, usually.
We make our way through the static crowd because we have no interest in these fireworks though. In the most dense areas, as we push and shove these fleshy statues around us, I distract myself and think of percolation theory. It’s the study of diffusion of a medium through a pourous material – think of water passing through a sponge. These thoughts keep my mind occupied from the smell of weed, sweat and people.
We finally reach the destination we intended to reach, only to find our friends are long gone. Worth mentioning that double or triple number of phones trying to connect to the cellular networks inevitably lead to an overload and thus, the network is mostly down. Meanwhile, my friend got high and still wants to dance and I have been working non stop for two months, so I’ll take any social contact.
It’s 12:30 and it appears there is a second round of fireworks. I don’t understand the fascination people have with these events. Soon enough, the lights from the stands and carnival go out in anticipation of the upcoming show.
Everything quiets down briefly only to be interrupted by three explosions, and in a few seconds, the sky is full of colored lights, like a flaming huge golden dandelion.
I feel something.
As fireworks keep shooting up in the sky and blasting, colouring the sky and quickly vanishing, I imagine myself as one of these specks of light – quickly ebbing away, leaving only a small trace of smoke, which eventually diffuses. Is this a metaphor for human existence? The colours are so full, so beautiful, so violent that I feel tears forming in my eyes. Everything is dark and all eyes are carved in the sky, so I let them roll down. Life is so breathtakingly beautiful sometimes. I keep thinking I am over it and that I am ready to go – but then I catch a whiff of its perfume, a sight of its colour and I’m pulled back in – I’m again completely in love with life, trapped. Like a child that is overwhelmed with emotion, I am standing here, looking at this symphony of colours, teary eyed. Let these sparks be a memory of all those who existed, who have come and gone. There are so many of them and each individual one is just a bright tiny dot that eventually wanes off.
What if all my rebellion boils down to the fear of fading away, quietly, just like one of these lights?
work-in-progress fiction essays from ‘On math and the mundane.’
Unfortunately important decisions are sometimes not the easy or obvious ones. They might even be the most unappealing, the hardest and, to add to it, not even the blatantly right ones.
If a certain solution were guaranteed to be the right one then it shouldn’t be so hard to take it. Despite the initial pain, frustration, fear, etc it may cause, one can rest assured that it was the right thing to do.
But such guarantee, is in the majority of the situations, non-existent. Then, how does one decide? I can’t give a formula or a heuristic for this. However, these are the points I consider:
– Life is unpredictable and short;
– One is ultimately responsible for their own actions – and consequences derived from those actions;
– In the grand scheme of things, it probably doesn’t matter – the only reason to make a decision is to alleviate short to medium term concerns or unconfortable situations;
– Even given the worst situations, people have found ways to cope and survive them, so you will too.
Suffering had become a task on which we did not want to turn our backs. We had realized its hidden opportunities for achievement, the opportunities which caused the poet Rilke to write, “Wie viel ist aufzuleiden!” (How much suffering there is to get through!) Rilke spoke of “getting through suffering” as others would talk of “getting through work.” There was plenty of suffering for us to get through. Therefore, it was necessary to face up to the full amount of suffering, trying to keep moments of weakness and furtive tears to a minimum.
Man’s search for meaning – Viktor Frankl
It’s only the in the face of hardship, suffering, tragedy that one will be able to understand what they are made of. Surely it’s easy to be a good, respectable person when there’s only incentives for it – living in a safe, structured society where the opposite actions are reprimandable. It’s only in situation where you expect the soul to break, to be soiled, that one can grasp the strength, goodness and admirable traits in themselves. On the other hand, we can also have a glimpse at how weak and morally flawed we can be.