It has been a short year. One of the shortest of my life this is because of a couple of things: it is the year that has proportionally represented the least of my life and, when we got older the parts of our brains that make memories get tired and so it begins to be more and more difficult to retain them. They make less of an imprint and nothing is as beautiful as it used to be-also incidentally the reason the music we used to listen to sounded so great.
Either way I managed to do some things.
- I am here.
This achievement cannot be chalked up to me or anything I have done. It’s just dumb luck. A lot of people more deserving of life don’t have it right now but I can still wake up and see things. Yesterday it was threatening to rain and so the dark rain clouds occupied the fore of the sky. In the back the sun still shone. It looked especially vivid maybe because of the contrast. The clouds beyond the nimbus were white against blue. There was a lone pillar of sunlight making its way down illuminating both the clouds and the sky. I was happy I was wearing glasses because I could see it properly. I was happy that this thing knocked my breath away. I was happy to be there to appreciate it and so I was happy to be alive. As long as there is beauty and the capacity to appreciate it life is worth it. It’s worth everything else and we are all blessed with such good fortune to have it with us.
On a side note to my religious brothers and sisters please begin to realise just how insensitive it is to ascribe the fact of continually living to the love of god. According to all your scriptures he loves us all even the ones who are dead. Saying you are alive is proof that god loves you sounds to me like saying that god does not love any of the people who died. It’s horrid to say this to anybody because you don’t know what part of their life they have lost. You cannot know which beauty they are unable to see because a parent, a sibling, a friend died. You don’t want them to hear that god does not love that parent, that sibling, that friend.
Cheers to life though.
- No-shave November.
I am a firm proponent of the hairy law: every man who can grow a beard will grow a beard. It is something in us. It is reported that George Mallory was once asked “why do you need to climb Everest?” “Because it’s there.”
This is the cornerstone of humanity. The pain of progress is assuaged by the ambition we have that drives us to see if we can. I mean, how ridiculous an ambition is it to go into space? How mad is it to look at everything up there and imagine that a human being could make it there? For most of our existence we believed that space was the home of the gods and for a tiny fraction we knew we could follow them up there and we did.
In 1861 serfdom was abolished in Russia. This was essentially a kind of peasant slavery where a landowner owned the people who worked on his land. There is a Russian book by Gogol with the amazing title of “dead souls.” A soul was the name given to serf. Serfs could be mortgaged, for accounting procedures even dead ones still appeared on the registers- which is where the title of the book comes from. Until 1903 we had not mastered the power of terrestrial flight. In 1917 Russia was shook by revolutions that overthrew the tsar and put to an end centuries of feudalistic rule. In 1961 Russia sent a man into space. In 100 years a society that enslaved the vast majority of its people had put a man on space. When they were told they were crazy they said we have to try because we want to know if we can.
To every man who can grow a few hairs on their cheeks and then shaves them off because of a girl or a job or society. Grow it (a pair of balls and your beard), November gives you an excuse and… You need to know if you can.
It’s not an easy journey. The best way to begin it is to announce it. Announce that you will not shave in November. Wait for the recriminations because they begin immediately. There will be naysayers telling you that you can’t do it, that you should not. There will be people claiming ownership of you and what you do. Society will tear itself apart attempting to control you. Trying to remind you that like one of Gogol’s souls you are not really free.
It will get ugly. No shave November despises the trimming of a beard. You have to realise that beards don’t just look good. Take a look at Rick Ross and realise without a shadow of a doubt that he has an awesome barber. A beard just grows making it look good is something you do by trimming.
It will itch. This happens after a while. You start rubbing it contemplatively. Pretending concern, feigning wisdom, lending yourself by this purely physical necessity an air of gravitas. After it itches you will want to shave it off. There are many dark days in November. There are days that all you will want to do is cut it off and feel the sweet release that you know comes with being clean-shaven. Hold on on those days. Society has already tested you and you bested it. The body now wants to master you. But if you are strong you will come out in December a man. A beard on your chin and a sense of accomplishment, and a new-found comfort in your own skin. You will feel that you have done it. That which most can’t, many will not attempt and only a few will succeed at. I, this year was one of those few.
- Moved into my own place.
It’s nice to move out. To go off somewhere and take care of yourself out of the sweat of your brow. There is a story about moving out. This man (really a boy) lived in a place of plenty and could have all he wanted. Every day the one who brought him into being would talk to him, walk with him, impart him some knowledge. Then the man, being a boy was disobedient. He was cast out of the place of comfort and into squalor. He lived and rutted like a pig. The soil would not be tilled; the plants would not be sown. Every effort returned less and less. The way back home was barred and out there by himself he struggled to survive. And as a man He did.
The story is not contained in a book known for its psychological introspection so we are not told about the satisfaction he must have found in providing for himself. We are not told about the freedom that he breathed in and how amazing it must have felt not to live by rules that felt arbitrary. Freedom comes with consequences and his consequences were great but Adam after he moved out made a life for himself. He longed wistfully for the Garden of Eden but he put his longing aside. He looked at the life ahead of him and I’m sure he thought for all the ease I have left behind at least I can eat all the damn apples I want to.
I can eat all the damn apples I want to now. The day that bacon was declared a cancerous scourge I went to the supermarket and bought some bacon. I went to the chips joint and bought some fries. I turned on my gas and fried that bacon crisp. I took the oil I had used and applied it liberally over the fries. I ate in such contented enjoyment that it’s hard to describe. Then I lit a cigarette took some deep puffs right there in the sitting room. A mist of bacon, chips and smoke hang over my house. Then I turned up the music and went to sleep. I love the damn apples.
Due to how little I cook however my house has become like Russia; inexhaustible supplies of oil and gas. I also have this trail of ants somewhere on the wall. I love an ant-trail it is so much like a trade route its shocking. These ants walk back and forth and back again, making space for each other as they do it. They are my own personal souls with their life in my control. Every once in a while I spy this huge cockroach and I want to stop him and sit him down. I want to ask him what he eats as I never have food in that house. Since we are all roommates and I’m the one paying rent why can’t he share his stash?
- Not buttoning the top button of my shirt.
There’s an article I read this year that I would recommend to anyone. To any man who is pressured into wearing a tie, to any woman who pressures a man into wearing a tie. It’s called dickheads and here for your reading pleasure is the article.
It was written by a man who hates ties with a passion reserved only for ties. He talks about how worthless they are. Their whole point is to make us submit. A symbol of enslavement if ever I saw one. Hanging a noose around your neck quite literally as the world of servitude slowly chokes the life out of you.
I have to wear a tie in the profession I chose when I was young and stupid. So I chose another method of rebellion. The year has passed without me even once buttoning the top button of my shirt. I have walked into every courtroom with my tie sagged and my shirt open to the elements. I have met every client like this. I have gone through every workday without submitting to this whim of the man.
It’s been great. One day, one day I’ll never wear a tie again. And if anyone reading this is close enough to be consulted when it comes to funeral arrangements… if you bury me in a tie I will haunt you forever.