Modern war is private hell. To us, warriors, with a cause, life is full of horrors understandable only within their context. In this world losing a lover or losing a leg are much the same as when we face the tragedy of comparing our lives to our hopes. We are lost between what we are, as there’s not much more to life than this, and what we expected because there’s much more to life than this.
We keep our faith in the idea that the important thing is the way and not getting there. This makes us spend more time plotting than achieving anything at all. After all, everything we achieve should have been something else.
We keep making maps, for the sake of it, because we don’t expect to go anywhere. We keep looking at photographs and paintings of places not as beautiful when we’re there. Black-and-white photographs, of New York City, enchant us; it’s as if New York City was anything like a soft, sensual, delicate black and white photo.
Impossible idealizations and romantic clichés are the skyscrapers of our collective illusion. Our illusions formed from the clay of a perceived lack of life options. We can look, but we won’t see them; we may want, but we cannot reach them; we can touch, but do not feel them; we can get close, but we’re never exactly there. Yet, we still love our illusions, deeply, and indulge our quotidian fantasies because we can’t possibly hope for better.
It’s the same in all the arts; books written, movies filmed, songs sung about lack of fulfillment. We believe we were promised us a life, which doesn’t exist. We expect a life where feelings are intense and inspiration is easy.
Burn all the bookstores, shut down the theatres and kill the songwriters. This is war. This is a war that pits us against the impossible, albeit more beautiful and romantic, view of ourselves. Life is our battlefield and the killing is within; in this war, our minds are the soldiers and our souls the collateral damage.
There, we must either kill our dreams and go back to enjoy a simpler life or finally find a way to live them. We are sons of adventure and warriors against boredom. Let the blood flows continually towards a sea of melancholy, anguish and disappointment. Inside us, there is death and hurt as real as the physical death and the physical hurt because here losing a lover is the same as losing a lover.
Will anyone care for a truce? Would this parallel world reveal itself to us, for a while? What would that place be? I don’t know.
I’m hopeful. All I know is that nothing is ever boring there. We never feel numb, drowsy, feeble, distant, frugal, disenchanted, bored, uninterested or envious of ordinary people for whom Nature is a benevolent mother and happiness is always at the door.
There are no dull writers and no benign movies. All the singers mean each word as if they were the whole song. There is no blanket over our feelings.
Life does not treat us kindly. Shaken, not stirred, thrown against the wall, spun round and spanned, we end up with broken teeth and electrocuted hair. Yet, we feel, by gawd, we feel as if life actually had a taste!
Wherever that place is, all I know is that there will be jazz, and a distant saxophone echoing through the streets and all through the night. There will be hot tea on a cup and Ella singing on the radio. There will be a New York City, not the true one; the dim lighted, nocturnal, black and white illusion. It won’t be heaven, though. There would still be pain there. Losing a lover and losing a leg would be very different things. Because there, in that magical place, existing means having to feel everything intensely, passionately, as one true and incomparable unit, apart from all other forms of existence. That is the place where things truly are, instead of looking like they are.
There, if I ever find such place, is where I want to die. I want to die as a soldier fallen in my private war against apathy and inertia. There, in that land without stop signs or lanes on the right for slow people, that’s where I wish my burial, on a street corner. There I remain, forever anonymous, identified only as a crater from the explosion of my former life.
“Here lies the soldier R. T., victim of friendly fire, hero, without a flag, inhabitant of ether, enemy of emptiness.”
As the one I am dies, I will be reborn as the one I want to be. All around me there will be gunfire sounds, and death, and suffering, and love will be a bastard and legs will run until they are exhausted. That’s all true. There will also be jazz, a distant saxophone echoing through the streets and all through the night.
By day, Dr. Ricardo Teixeira is an environmental engineer, who dabbles in neuroscience. Through chilly Lisbon nights, he writes fiction then stored in dusty, dark drawers to await the light of day.
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