Finding the Right Words
Often I have met the ill of living, said Italian poet Eugenio Montale. For him, existence is a desolate land through which all living beings must drag themselves without purpose or meaning, only to end up dissolving into the nothingness of death. The latter is the only positive thing that can ever happen, as it represents a sure ending to the pain of being alive. With reason, he is often referred to as “the poet of desperation”.
If a guy with such depressive thoughts managed to win the Nobel prize for literature, it shouldn’t be too hard for me to achieve, given the current state of things.
The current state of things: a white square pillow with the writing “That’s what she said” abandoned on the couch, dust dancing in the light cone that evades the half-drawn curtains in the living room, an endless list of rejection emails to my job applications, a greasy table that nobody has cleaned in weeks, an empty house.
I sometimes find the ordinariness of my surroundings overwhelming. Especially when it seems like I am the only one noticing that both floors and surfaces need a good scrub, that the garbage needs to be thrown out, that the shoes scattered around the entrance like cockroaches need to be paired up and put on the rack. My flatmates are champions at ghosting when it comes to these things. So I end up doing all the housework instead.
For a while, the cloth rubbing against the oily cupboard shelves gives me relief —until I eye my laptop, open on standby on the table with its accusing black stare.
As I wipe the sweat off my forehead, I recognise that my diatribe against my flatmates is nothing but a mere diversion from the ill of living that dominates my days —from a story that needs to be told but clashes against the limitations of human language, and a cursor forever flashing on a blank page. The irony of this does not escape me.
I wish that finding the right words were as easy as dusting shelves.