I suppose existential crisis is a little far-fetched, but…actually…nope. That sounds about right, spot on in fact. Last year was a shit year. I started the year with a miscarriage, which resulted in a confusing mix of grief and relief and triggered some visceral, physiological baby urge that has been hard to shake and hard to understand. I turned 30. I had the hardest year of my career and generally have grave concerns about where education is going and whether or not I want in on that ride. And in hindsight, I was also depressed. All of this put immense strain on my relationship with my partner. And now, I’m left wondering what the actual fuck is it that I’m supposed to do?
So I write. I write weird and absurd characters and situations, stories and solutions. I write these because they amuse me and make me chuckle. Because they don’t have to have an underlying philosophical or political message if I don’t want them to. And why would you want them to? You don’t need to use your imagination to come up with stories that do, all you need to do is turn on the TV or read the newspaper and have a look at what is happening in this world at the moment.
I write because it helps me to forget how disappointing life is. How disappointing humanity is. There is nothing more discouraging in this world than human beings. From the low-level, small-scale; someone forgot to buy toilet paper; being cut off in traffic; parents complaining about their child’s teacher’s personality, as if they get to choose the preferred personality type of a teacher (I have seen this, but not experienced it myself); wishing someone would look at you for as long and as lovingly as they do a screen; a smart phone, a computer, a video game.
To the large-scale devastation; Consumerism. Climate change AND it’s denial by our government. The constant rape and pillage of our environment. War. Cruelty. The refugee crisis and slamming the door on the people who need it the most. Racism. Slavery. The list goes on, but I won’t.
And yet, there is some sort of cosmic irony in there, some where. If you squint and look closely enough. If I weren’t an atheist, I would insist that God is playing some cruel joke on us all. How can He make human beings some of the most uplifting things in this world, too? Children, the gatekeepers of joy and light and laughter. Their imaginations endless, their hope so fresh and bright and infectious. But, I suppose with any light there’s always a shadow. And so what’s one candle in an infinitely dark universe?
Bleak, I know.
And so, I write because sometimes I need reminding that life is only disappointing if you allow it to be. Writing THIS reminds me that there are good things happening everywhere. That small things can bring great joy. The person who gives you their parking ticket for free. The small smile someone offers you as you are walking past. Sometimes you are the holder of the candle, bright and shiny and beautiful, and other times, you disappear into the gloomy void. And you’re allowed to. Just come back, please!
But mostly, writing about harmless made up situations, like a mute woman being stuck on a rooftop after being attacked by an eagle, may seem like complete folly, but sometimes it’s these fantastic, bizarre situations that allows me to make sense of an ever increasingly unpredictable and deranged reality and still carry hope. As Dr Seuss put so well, “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living; it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”