I’ve been listening to CDs of the novel “A Long Way Down”, by Nick Hornby. I listen to a lot of books on CDs because of how much time I spend driving back and forth to and from work. “A Long Way Down” is about four people who meet on a roof in London on New Year’s Eve, planning to jump to their death. Sounds cheery, doesn’t it? It’s actually very funny if you like dark humor.
Because the story takes place in England, it is read with a British accent. Better yet, there are two readers to cover the male and female parts. When I listen to someone speak with an accent for any length of time, I find that I start to think in my head with this accent. And I start taking on the slang or the expressions of this country or culture so I am now thinking and sometimes uttering out loud expressions like “bloody hell” and calling the imbecile driver that butted in front of me a “tosser”, the people who work at the Verizon store are a bunch of “wankers”, and I’d like to tell a few people at work to “sod off”.
Anyway, I’m to the part where one of the characters, JJ, has figured out what really made him want to kill himself. And he’s discovered it’s not because he hates life, but just the opposite, that he loves life! But he feels cut off from living and can’t seem to enter back into the stream of life – it is just gurgling and flowing along without him.
The rock band JJ was in broke up and his girlfriend left him, but the girlfriend and band members have all moved on and are doing things with their lives. While JJ doesn’t know what to do or who he is anymore. And it’s that missing out on life and not being able to find a way to rejoin the living that took him to the top of a building to jump.
Does that make any sense? Because it sure does to me. I want so much to rejoin the living, to get back into that stream with all the other fishies. But here I am, flopping around on the shore gasping for air.
I’ve been wondering why for so many years I’ve postponed trips I wanted to take, always waiting for ‘the right time’, which would be when things aren’t so hectic and money isn’t so tight. In other words, never!
I’ve pushed my comfort zone and spent some cash so I could skijor, but in so many other ways, I’ve been scrimping and scraping, eating rice and beans, and putting away every extra cent to prepare for a job loss, retirement in twelve years, and all the expenses that can come up when your health goes to hell and you don’t have a job or health insurance to fall back on.
Sound pessimistic? A little paranoid? Step into my life for awhile and you too will begin to always be thinking of preparing for the worst.
But I’m not saying that way of thinking is right, or a good way to live. No, I’m wondering what is the point of all this preparing for tomorrow and for “what ifs” and missing out on what I could be doing right now? Why not be all out adventurous and active and go places while I still can?
Wouldn’t it be worth the risk? Financial institutions, auto manufacturers, and various obscenely wealthy people don’t seem to worry about the consequences of their recklessness.
But I’m not really talking about being reckless anyway. I’m talking about turning the heat up enough so my back and shoulder’s don’t ache constantly from shivering. I’m talking about taking a trip to see my family. And I’m talking about just not worrying so much and trusting that whatever troubles come up, I’ll find a way out.
So I took a big step this evening — I stopped and bought “Japanese Chicken” takeout from the Mongolian Buffet. It’s one of my favorite treats and I haven’t had it since H left. I know, I know it’s not much, but it’s a step towards wading back into the stream.
Blimey but it’s getting late and I’m feeling a bit knackered. So pip pip, cheerio and all that rubbish that the British only say in old movies.