Archive for December, 2009

Sunday Anguish

December 31, 2009

On Sundays, in the late afternoon, I feel  a recurring unease.  It begins with a slight, imperceptible tingling in the stomach, then a heaviness in the arms, and finally a tightness in the chest and a chill in the soul.  The imminent death of the afternoon, and with it the weekend, fills me with a sensation of incompleteness.  Time is running out and there are issues to resolve.

From my time as a high school student, Sundays are sad days.  Incomplete days in which I cannot start anything, waiting for transport to take me back to school, seeing my friends again.  And then spending hours recounting our weekend adventures. Some, like Roberto, stretch Sunday a little further, bringing music and drink with them and continuing the dancing on the dark balcony, or on the roof of the dormitory, partying until exhaustion or the dawning of Monday makes us stop.  When there isn’t any transport the adventure of traveling on my own starts, in the trains and buses still running.  An adventure that almost always ends by the side of the road, signaling everything that passes. As it’s impossible to predict the duration of such a haphazard journey, we have to hit the road earlier.  And the Sundays are that much shorter.

When I start working, I think the character of Sundays can change.  And for a while, it’s true.  I amuse myself, even though diversions are expensive.  And scarce.  A few years go by and I discover that working doesn’t satisfy a vital need, rather it entangles me in a confused network of circulars, intrigues, resolutions, black outs, opportunisms, procedures, quarrels, voluntary work, much less transport, egotism, production campaigns, professional jealousies, generalized inefficiency, vigilance work, envy.  A lot.  Nothing makes sense. Much less is logical.  Only the amount of fanfare matters.  And the enthusiasm.  Always the enthusiasm.  Yes. In its always greatest expression: unconditional enthusiasm.  And Sundays become a prelude to depression.

Six years ago I started making a living on my own. I don’t have hours, because the bananas don’t stop growing at 5 pm, and the clients need their equipment working so they, too, can earn a living.  I exchange the security of a wage at the end of the month for the freedom to say what I think, not to go where they order me to go when I don’t want to, and to excuse myself from the pantomime of raising my hand to achieve the sacrosanct unanimity.  Many who would call themselves my friends haven’t been to my house since then.  Others who in truth are at my side, though they are in Spain, warming the chest with an unpalatable coffee. To be free can mean to be more alone, if those around you continue to be slaves.  For six years I haven’t marked a time card nor gone to union meetings, but Sundays continue to be sad days.

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Life of Sisyphus – Part Nine

December 11, 2009

So one begins to get old, she thinks, when we are given to remembering the past. The past is a dangerous thing when we let it stead the prominence of our lives. It is always present, determining our actions, like the sun keeps the planets incarcerated in its gravitational prison. Even the comets, incapable of strong attraction, pass by every few years to see how everything is going here. Making ourselves comfortable in the past is a dangerous thing, if you don’t have the strength, you end up always repeating the same things. And from there to death by boredom is a small step.

Since her teens she had watched with curiosity this longing for the past, often in reaction to the new. In high school her friends talked about how great junior high had been, in the university they wanted to return to high school and her co-workers talked about how wonderful their time in school had been. It’s odd to see a reunion of old schoolmates, how different they are, the ones who have moved forward and the ones stuck in the past. Those who hold on to the jargon and the cliques and those who have decided to overcome everything. Another very common idea is the possibility of stepping back in time and changing our actions in certain past events. How many regrets we carry on our shoulders, pushing us to the ground with the insupportable weight of the past. And how many illusions about rearranging our lives wait under the cold side of the pillow, filling our dreams and our nightmares.

She, on the contrary, has lived spurred on by the urgency to move forward, advance quickly, without too much looking back. She doesn’t long for things in the past. She doesn’t visit the schools where she studied, she doesn’t go to the alumni reunions or take part in conversations of reminiscing. She knows that people change, that by the forties one has lived another life, since you parted as a group of students in your twenties. In those years they were traveling like drops of water from a hose, carried from one place to another. Once past the nozzle they began to disperse, and each drop followed its own trajectory, separate from the rest. She thinks this is the difference that gives meaning to life. One of the her few memories of being a student is an exchange with the philosophy teacher. Answering a question, she very confidently said that movement implied development. And he asked her, speaking slowly, “And circular movement, does it imply development?” It was a revelation. She understood that it doesn’t matter how fast you move, if in the end you return to the same place. You must control the trajectory. Movement without change is an illusion, a deception.