Uncle Hyena (unclehyena) wrote,
Uncle Hyena

Once Upon a Time...

Thirty-five years ago today, the temperature in Wheaton, Illinois, hit a high of 63 degrees. The sky was clear, and, since it was a Wednesday, the inmates of Wheaton College did NOT have a mandatory chapel service at 10:30 AM. It was the first truly beautiful day of the year.

I almost killed myself.

I didn't try and fail; that isn't really my style. It would have been easy enough; climb some stairs, pick a lock I had already picked several times, two and a half seconds of free fall, and then darkness. I had means, opportunity and motive, but decided at the last minute that I had other options I wanted to explore first.

I wasn't miserable. I WAS basically unhappy, and looked forward to a life that consisted of being basically unhappy most of the time. College was pointless and expensive, and I had no idea what what I was going to do with myself once I got out. I was acutely aware that there was absolutely NOTHING which I enjoyed doing, that someone would pay me to do, that I had talent for, that was legal. If I knew what I wanted, I could have acquired the skills, but I was clueless. It occurred to me that I MIGHT be able to succeed as a writer, and the decision to take the express exit would always be available if I wanted it.

Thirty five years later, I am certain that I made the right choice that day, but I am also certain that the topic was worth considering. The dream of making a living as a writer is well and truly dead (thought the habits of seeing the world through a writer's eyes remain) and, while I have seldom been miserable, I have also VERY seldom been happy. With one singular and overwhelming exception, my analysis of the life then in front of me has proven to be surprisingly accurate. My life has been of little consequence to anyone else, and the pleasure I have gained has not really paid the freight on the drudgery. And thirty five years ago, I still had some hope; today, I am a dying man[1] in a dying nation[2] on a dying world[3], and have (almost) none.

Except... There has been Julia (Yes, she is usually Dementia in these pages, but today, she gets her real name.). For nearly 27 years she has been the center of my existence; she makes my life liveable both physically and spiritually. Of the various people who profess to love me, she is the only one who has more than an inkling of who I truly am. She is the only person who actually has a right to care whether I live or die, and she DOES care, very much.

It says something of the skewed way in which I view the universe that I am capable of wondering if I should be grateful for the fact that she does care, if I might not be better off in a world where the path to the express exit was simply open and waiting for me. And I find, somewhat surprisingly, that I AM grateful. Because while the other good things in my life (including, for example, everyone who reads this), of themselves, don't pay the freight on the drudgery, I am still very, very glad that they have been there.

Uncle Hyena

[1] No, I don't have any terminal disease, other than humanity. But I am old enough, and have enough small things wrong with me, to be acutely aware of my own mortality pretty much all of the time.

[2] Human civilization is riding a rocket sled into a brick wall, and we are busy fighting about trifles. [4]

[3] Barring a technological miracle (which will only postpone the problem), the long term sustainable human population of this planet is something less than one billion persons. The chance of rationally reducing the population to such a level before the final crisis comes is rather less than the chance of the technological miracle. [4]

[4] It is possible to get me to discuss these things, but I really don't want to, because I don't like to think about it, and the most likely result is that I will convince you of my point of view, and then YOU will be depressed, too. I would rather not have that on my conscience, thank you.
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