#29: Brief candle
I remember waking one afternoon from a nap. I should have woken up disorientated, as I was overseas and staying at someone's house. The house was quiet and empty. Yet I woke with a stabbing pain somewhere deep inside. It didn't emanate from any one spot, just an all round sharpness, as if I was being disgorged from the inside.
I knew no one other than my friend and I didn't speak the language. The next few hours were a blur of anxiety and loneliness.
Eventually, David came back and quickly rushed me to the hospital. Things were quiet, so they quickly gave me a room. Before a doctor could come in, something big happened, and they prepared for some big accident.
Hours passed and the noise and confusion kept me still, despite the agonising pain I was still in.
At some point, someone popped their head in. David spoke rapidly, and the conversation quickly switched to English. They had forgotten about me. First, they needed to take my temperature.
The man handed David a thermometer and told me to lie on my side and pull my pants down. He left David and me to look at each other. I'm sure David thought he could run, but my stuff was still at his place, and I could, if I tried, find my way back.
I'm not fazed that we never kept in contact. I don't think friendships survive sticking a small medical device up someone's arse. Or at least ours wasn't. You might be a better friend.
It was during those hours waiting, imagining the diagnosis being that I had only days left to live when I came to some strange realisation. If I don't die now, I will eventually die. It could be quick or slow, but it will happen.
What surprised me was that I was okay with that.
Much of what we do in our daily lives is aimed at mitigating against death. From simple things such as wearing a seatbelt to posting on social media.
Humans have, for centuries, left some record that they existed. Social media is a recording of the simple fact that we existed. We were real.
The tragedy is that it isn't real. Macbeth, upon hearing of his wife's death, ponders about the purpose of life.
Out, our, brief candle,
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing. (5:5:22-27)
Modern linguistics has a concept of sign/signifier, which is basically we can communicate together as long as we accept that the word 'dog' (sign) refers to the four-legged creatures who bark (signifier). If those two don't align, we won't have language.
I find it fascinating that William Shakespeare used the word signifying. That a life will 'signify nothing' doesn't negate the 'sound and fury' of the life lived.
We need to not worry about the signifying of our lives but focus on the strutting and fretting as we never know when the wind will blow us out.
I think part of the reason David and I aren't friends probably comes down to the eventual diagnosis. Turns out I had excessive gas.