When I learnt for sure she wasn’t leaving the hospital alive, I knew for sure what mattered.
My dad told me a story once. You know that old life-flashing-before-your-eyes thing? Dad said he experienced something like that when his dad was dying – a kind of surge transmitted from Father to son. Dad even demonstrated: looked like a comedy electric shock. 🙄 Still, I hoped perhaps I’d experience something similar with my mum. Nope. With Mum and me there was no flash of a life’s story, no sacred transmission, nothing profound or religious. Just a confirmation: life is too short for bullshit.
As Mum took her time dying, all I could do was hold her hand. And I couldn’t shake a thought. This frail dying shell used to be my home. I came out of her 43 years ago. Since then I ate, got big, got a job, and fucked, thereby helping to create little people of my own. I’m a big boy now, but still it hurts watching your old home crumble.
And of course life goes on. Gotta work, gotta raise the kids. Meanwhile in the big world people are still awful to each other, Twitter still happens, petition emails flood in, and I’m like “Sorry, not interested right now. Or maybe ever.”
When I look back at myself, I think I once had a mild messiah complex. I had definitely discovered the secret to world peace and just knew that message had to be let out. It was my responsibility to help root out all ignorance – after all, if you believe the entire universe is a single organism, even the littlest actions have an effect.
My plan to fix the world:
- get everyone on side (make everyone like me)
- fix world
It wasn’t long before the truth emerged: NO ONE FUCKING CARES. Well, maybe not no one, but generally, yeah no one.
So… Naturally I begin a toilet-bowl swirl into depression: thoughts of suicide invade my sleepless nights. Feelings of absolute worthlessness; failure and regret; it all eats me alive, like termites. Thankfully, eventually, a voice hits me:
“Hey bucko, the world has been tearing itself apart long before you were born. Chill.”
Simple as that. I had to allow myself to not give a shit. I had to re-embrace my previous default: Don’t take anything too seriously.
So now I’ve seen my mum slip away, the ashes of my old house resting in a plastic tub until they get scattered. I kinda feel like I’ve earned my officers stripes. I have an extra sliver of life experience, and the motto has evolved:
Don’t take anything too seriously because… fuck it! Death!
Now when it comes to fixing the world I’m like “Which part of the world exactly?”
My inbox is flooded with petitions, and most of them go into the trash. Sorry. Got problems of my own. Oh but then there’s the American elections, and that guy. People on Twitter losing their minds, disappointed how nobody noticed how awful Trump was until five seconds ago. Jesus Christ, chill. I have to laugh at the sky falling because laughter is better than gnashing teeth.
A few years ago I would’ve been afraid of Trump. I’d be like “I have to fix this!” And to be honest I actually wasted five minutes of my life explaining to a Trump supporter (via Facebook) why the man is no good. Immediately I was attacked with shock-and-awebvious. Yep, I was engaging with an ironic, delusional dick. Forget it. Now I’m like Fuck it! Death! The world has been tearing itself apart long before I got here.
What matters are the people around me. I don’t want to waste time engaging with distant losers, or (arguably more infuriating) their fanatic detractors.
I’ve been going down this road for a few years now, and in the wake of Mum’s death I feel resolute. Sadly, I’m not sure Mum totally understood me on this. I reckon she thought I was a bit simple – like I didn’t understand the gravity of some deplorable situations. She was right about some things, but not always. She was passionate, but sometimes I felt she let herself get too wound up. Thankfully my simpleton’s approach to things often got us both back on level ground.
But for the record, and example, here’s my long-held opinion on Trump:
That’s all. If you think I’m not angry enough, or grossly inarticulate – fuck off. Life’s too short. Or, if you disagree completely and demand an explanation – fuck off more. Either way, try sitting in a quiet room watching life end. You’ll get it.
When it comes to things that don’t affect me directly in the here-and-now – Trump; an Indonesian puppy mill; school uniform codes in England; hypocritical victims campaigners; fucking flags!… When this stuff comes up I have to remember there’s always a daily special on Armageddon. Oh, and this:
- never let them see you lose your cool
- it’s not up to me to fix it
- laughter trumps evil