Bored Games

We found ourselves in the stranger’s kitchen, playing an unfamiliar game.  We sat surrounding the table in the dim, the stranger sat at its head.  Silver cigarette smoke, monotonous music, remnants of late-night drinks and the darkness outside contributed to the bewildering atmosphere.  Innumerable pistachio shells in a bowl, no nuts left.  The beer in my half-empty glass had long-since turned warm and stale, I had had my fill earlier in the evening.

“The night is just beginning!” our host declared.  When would it end?  The rules were vague and convoluted, we lacked a clear understanding of them – our grogginess didn’t help.  However, our host knew the game well, playing it was a proud family tradition he inherited from a young age.  We followed his instructions as best we could as we went along.  He understood the rules so well he seemed to bend them to his will – such was his skill I suppose.  In him we trusted.

Enthusiastically and energetically he led by example.   Inevitably, we made novice mistakes and we were penalized as the rules dictated.  I felt I had been playing forever, and yet faring no better.  Rewards for the most cunning players were promised though they were rarely received, and rarely worth the effort.  However, if we played our cards right, we were told, success would be forthcoming.  There was plenty of opportunity for that.

The hours passed and the kitchen walls closed in.  The black world beyond is mad.  The table is the centre and extent of our universe.  Some pistachio shells now float in my beer, flicked in through moments of bored distraction.  It is very late though I am unsure of the time.  My fellow participants look tired too, although they probably did not wish to admit it.  I’m weary of this game.

I dare not open my mouth now lest I miss my turn – a missed opportunity – and I seem so near to gaining something at last.  I could give something away – some inadvertent sign.  Giving something away would be a terrible mistake at this stage.  Share nothing.  Guard jealously.  Poker faces around the table, trusting no one. Every person playing for themselves.  Just follow the stranger’s instructions.

What are the others doing?    They make such devious decisions.  A hateful bunch, differentiated only by how worse than each other they are.  I arrived here at one time with them, though I’m not sure how. Flukey bastards.

Those two made a deal.  Favouritism!  They’re plotting against me. Sabotage.  Those two were always the best friends.  There should be rules against that kind of behaviour.

All is quiet, but for the continuing explanations of our kind host, on which we depend.

Around and around we go taking turns.  There was never a chance of finishing – no one else would ever win – the enthusiastic stranger is perpetually dominant.  It could have ended.  A new game could be played tomorrow.  Oh to sleep and wake with the light of a new morning.  If only someone admitted they were tired, we would all concur and retire and dream of the prospect of a new day.  But we’re so close!  We’ve come so far.  It’s too late to change.

Interminably we continue, single-mindedly, sobering, without relief, further into the night.

It would have been rude not to.
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Everything Depends Upon The Job

‘You are free and that is why you are lost’ – Franz Kafka

Whether causal or coincidental, I have happened upon a trough of relative disillusionment and fatigue at about the same moment I endure a spell of inactivity.  I’m sure I will exit this phase, but for now my hobbies and passions are on hold, and I am existing almost without purpose.  The love of my partner is perhaps my only significant motivation.  A rather dreary opening paragraph, but never fear!

Evaluation

Regarding my lack of writing, I feel there are multiple reasons for this, a few from the top of my head are:  Lack of confidence in my ability to write knowledgeably on a given topic; Lack of a given topic in which I am currently deeply involved and that may be of interest to other people to read about; lack of energy and money; lack of structure and discipline; feeling too much pressure and trying too hard to write something that is worthwhile (this can inhibit anyone from writing anything at all); lack of a justification for spending time writing and reading when we are poor and money is not gained from such activities – and the feeling of guilt that stems from dedicating so much time to such artistic and intellectual pursuits when money is what is needed.  Time for spending with family, friends and loved ones is also in demand – how can I write when my love wants to spend time with me on her day off?  The grass needs to be cut too, and I almost always forget to hang the clothes up for drying.

I have stopped playing music.  Stopped listening to music.  Stopped learning German. Despite my socialist viewpoint, I have become less active with politics.  I have become lackadaisical with my reading, and much else.

At the moment, I am frustrated by all this, but, as yet, I am not too worried.  Firstly, I am developing my perception and approach to writing.  Ironically, this facilitates less writing as it requires more reading.  Also, I am using this period of personal uncertainty to question and re-evaluate my life-goals.

An Existensial Crisis?

Most pertinently, I am waiting to start a new job.  Hopefully, it will be the beginning of something new; I know that the recent few years have been consistently disappointing and that my jobs have not been very fulfilling, to say the least.   I have worked too hard, tried too many things, and I probably expected too much.  I put far too much effort and time into some areas, and not enough into others.  I was naive and too ambitious – if one can be too ambitious.  Perhaps my priorities were unwise, but I based my dedication upon the passion and ambition I had for different interests so that I might be successful with them – I was working towards a dream.  In that sense, I think it would be too harsh to say my priorities were completely wrong.   Nonetheless, I needed to slow down and reassess some things.

The first step in resuming activity will be Monday, the first day in the new job.  I pray it will not be as disappointing as my recent roles.  I am not so naive as to think that the disappointment of my recent jobs was not to do with the larger economic and political conditions of Ireland (and Europe) which allow for such exploitative and low-paying positions to be created by employers.  Employees suffer in uncertain and worrying limbo – I am not so naive as to think that my new position will not also be subject to external forces.  Nevertheless, I hope my next employer at least provides the foundation upon which I can begin to live my life in a more fulfilling and ambitious way again; enabled to try my best.

I’m not lost because I’m “free” – I’m not lost at all, though I may feel like that.  I’m simply trapped, grounded by very real circumstances.  It is clear what I need: reliable job, decent money, definite structure, relative security, defined purpose, hobbies, random fun and relaxation.  Society provides the means of achieving those things and can do so depending the economic and social-political conditions.  You are not lost because you are free, you believe you are “free” because you are lost.

Despite the aforementioned, one must do one’s best when the opportunity arises.  I hope that after Christmas, I will have money and that my new job is consistent and (as far as such a position can be) rewarding.  That’s step one.  Step two is establishing myself in the role and my first month’s pay.  After that, I aim to develop more structure in my life, and therefore with the life of my partner whom I love and am dedicated to.  Upon this improved structure I can build goals for my job, my career, and my hobbies.  I can develop my talents and interests further and therefore write about them.  Who knows what will happen?

But everything depends upon the job.

A Little About An Anonymous Life – In Limbo

In Limbo

History repeats itself, ‘first as tragedy, then as farce’.  Revolutions are ignited and betrayed.  Class oriented economies boom and bust.  For ordinary people, events and experiences repeat themselves, almost cyclically; one thinks they are reaching new heights, only to be plunged again by some circumstance.  At the bottom, situations we have experienced earlier – even mediocre ones – appear fantastic.  We are reaching out for fulfilment, desperately trying to escape the quagmire we are caught in.  Each time, we may settle for a little less of the dream, if only to escape the dizzying path through purgatory.

I made the somewhat extreme decision to delete my previous blog the other day.  Actually, the decision wasn’t entirely my own – what decisions are entirely our own?

My previous blog had somehow vanished due to some bug or technical issue which is too complicated and irrelevant to discuss at length here.  I had started to find my style as a writer and there is at least one article which contains sentimentality for me, gone forever.   I could possibly have retrieved my content with some effort and time, but I recognised this as an opportunity to start-over again, in a more focused and purposeful way.

I suppose I am prone to take the more progressive choices – riskier – but perhaps more rewarding, if they succeed.  Every cloud has a silver lining, doesn’t it?  Meaningless clichés, said before.  Or is the anonymous life punctuated by perpetual swings and roundabouts, ups and downs?  They say when one door closes another opens, but one has the impression we spend our existence just going in and out.  We think we’ve been here before, and it’s not as good the second time around.  Most of us are sidelined, unable to contribute to the game on the field just in front of us.  Nonetheless, we continue to attend training week after week.  Are we progressing, retrogressing, are we repeating?  Are we trapped?

Like a baby in a cot, staring up at the unalterable mobil, going round and round.