CN: swearing, depression
He looked at his watch. Five o’clock.
‘Fuck!’ he muttered resentfully. The menacing ghosts lurking beyond the outer rim of his mind were waking up again, pregnant, the child already named Depression.
The afternoon had been rolling by like water falling down a brooklet in early spring, in passive acquiescence to the soft demands of its pleasing course through the yet fearful stillness of the woods, silently, discreetly. The weather was deceitfully smooth, warmish, inviting to laziness. It was one of those sleepy days when sitting down in idle enjoyment of the hours’ meekness meant taking the risk of falling down a rabbit hole and ending up being caught in some sort of Wonderland; a time for unwary travellers to be seduced by the lotus flower of melancholy.
And there he had been since lunchtime, a perfectly cast bad student of Keats thrust into the stage of life among all the other players, sitting by a blue plastic table in the terrace outside the coffee house, one of the number that flourished like romantic maggots all over the charmingly decadent buildings housing his college. Consistent with Wilde’s teaching that he could resist anything but temptation, he always gave in. So once more, like a crustacean to a shell, he had retired to where “veil’d Melancholy has her sovran shrine” as soon as the shadows of morbid thoughts, brought on by another appointment with the death-moth and the downy owl, began the assault on the outer edges of his defenceless mind. In the end, the reverdie in the road ahead, as he lay wavering in the Tabard Inn, was always too fresh, too charming to resist. Easily dazed by the somewhat Chaucerian taste of spring in the idle, pungent amenability of the day, he had soon found himself in the banks of his dream-world Lethe. The ferryman never charged him for the journey and in the other side the shadow-land was not ruled by a sombre Hades.
The wanderings of daydreaming had taken him through his usual road to a make-believe Canterbury, as his body and clarity of mind were sacrificed to the deceiving relief of oblivion by the draught of desire and a kind of warmth that was both sad and happy flooded his overwhelmed senses. This was a long-known route of pilgrimage; evermore addicting as the reality he was living in outside its borders grew more and more hostile, gloomy, oppressive and, sick. But nevertheless it was also a via crucis of sorts, an exhibition of all the dimensions of life in himself yet unborn. Yet he went there in the condition of a nervous patient coming over and over again to be reassured by his doctor, as much as the persecuted innocent in demand for his right of sanctuary. He needed to keep going that way, afraid that some stingy needle of reality would have pierced the gashed bag of his fantasies when his back was turned and made it bleed dry, depriving of meaning his days to come. Maybe a wise man, unlike the unwise multitudes around, would not pour scorn on him, as the heart’s dreams and hopes are a fluid more vital to Man than the blood in which it trades. A truly wise man knows what he really knows is nothing, yet the world showed to be full of wise men who were pretty sure they knew everything…
But as his need of the dream-world grew, so did the pain there was in the postponed moment of awakening. Returning hurt, like the dismissed spell of a Fifth Empire not yet to come; Hamlet’s heartache redoubled is the toll dreamers pay for their temporary not to be. He could never hold on to that notion, however, when his exhausted wandering self, longing for a moment’s relief under the sign of that solacing going out of himself, cried with Macbeth the cry that Macbeth dare never utter. It was like being a traveller that had gone astray and got lost in the desert, spending his days one after the other wandering through the vastness of the sands, burning under a hell-born heat then having to resist drinking the water offered to him by a vanished kindly genie. Yet, as always, dreams fade and he had been brought back to reality by the touch of the cold fingers of enclosing dusk in the form of a shiver running down his spine. Utopia tasted bittersweet when seen from afar. Metaphor and euphemism, pieces of the jigsaw of literary reference and identification he had built himself to avoid the fact that pain and problems are two things that cannot be made to go away just by refusing to look them in the eye. Utopia tasted much more bitter than sweet, in fact, when seen from afar. Time increases pain.
To be continued…
Tomás Ferreira (Get Real. culture editor)
This series, entitled “A Horse!” will be in 8 parts. This is part 1/8.