Sorrows of a Young Man

The sorrows of a young man in the city, being a palimpsest of Goethe's Werther.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Everybody's complaining all the time

Now I know what Jennifer must be to a sick heart, and it's feeling sicker than most of the people dying in hospital. She'll be away for some days, going to the countryside. Away to look after an old woman. She's about to die (or that's what the doctor said), and wants to have Jenn around her now.

Recently Jennifer and I visited her friend in a small town near-by. Her friend's in his mid-forties, working in the local psychiatry. When he saw her arriving he got up and was all happy, like she'd be breathing new life into him. They were sitting down on a bank outside, talking about family and friends, and Jenn played around with his laptop. You should have seen her talk to that guy, how her voice started to sing and everything. She told him about events happening in the city, the opening of the new art galley next street of her house (he wants to go there with her soon). Yeah, and she mentioned all the people who lately went crazy.

Well, I was congratulating him on the job, and on the shining facade of the whole place.
"Yeah," he agreed, "I'm working here for twenty years, and I still know when this building was painted all black. Not suited to raise your moods, clean your mind. My wife's a nurse. I met her sitting here in the court, book under her arm, smoking. I was a young student." And he went on to tell about how the two got together, and how his little career in this place got started.

The story was about over when his wife arrived. Quite a nice woman, too. Long brown hair. There was this guy with her. Who then started to talk down on me. Like I wouldn't get the whole thing, couldn't understand what this place is all about and what's important here... it seemed to be his bad attitude rather than my lack of understanding second-generation antipsychotics. Maybe he was just annoyed that I seemed to have sensed his affair with the wife of our dear friend.

Our genuine dislike of each other became even more obvious when we walked around the park, Jennifer, me, the guy and the woman, talking. Jenn kicked me and told me to keep it quiet. Now there's nothing more annoying then bad-spirited people. Those who are young but have nothing better to do then try to pick a fight with others. That night, I went to this pub with Jenn, and when we started to talk about this and that and world philosophy... after some beers, I couldn't help but go on about it and how much I despise bad attitudes.

"Everybody's complaining all the time... like every day is bad and life's getting worse and people are getting more stupid. I don't think so. If we would see the good stuff, and be listening to what people have to say, we would realize how good we could have it, and how small the troubles are we're facing."
A friend of Jenn was joining us.
"You're wrong, people can't just control their moods. Maybe they don't know why, but they're just not feeling happy."

"OK," I said, "so let's say depression is a physical sickness or something, like any other. Do pills help?"
Jennifer leaned over the table.
"Speaking for myself, all it takes to be happy is seeing the good things in life and grabbing them with both hands... and dance a little dance with them, and sing along to them."
"I think bad moods are lack of energy. If we would have the right energy, we could get things done easily."
Our friend disagreed. You can't always control your mind or body, she said. "There's diets for everything," I said, "why isn't there a diet for bad thoughts as well? We run from doctor to doctor, switch the drugs, and go see the shrink. But I never heard people try a diet for the mind."
"They should advertise that idea on TV. It would probably help the guy next table."
We started laughing. Then Jean's friend said:
"So you're calling depression a bad habit, is that it?"
"Not really. Maybe the thing I'm talking about is not depression. It's the bad mood of people trying to pick on everything, everyone, you know. If we're feeling bad ourselves, do we have to try to get everyone around us in our boat as well? Or just tell me of one person who's down and not telling everyone and their neighbor about their trouble. So what is this then but self-hatred and being envious towards those they think better off? We see lucky people, those lucky without us being the reason... and that's pissing us off."
Jennifer was now smiling at me, seeing how I got into the whole argument, how I waved my hand and everything, and how our friend was really getting annoyed.
"Damn those people who try to control the minds of others, and who abuse that power, to steal all of their happy thoughts. The kind that started growing inside them, no outside help. If others destroy that feeling, you just can't make it undone."

By then I was so into it. My past was creeping up on me, what I saw happening in it, and tears filled my eyes.

"God, we should just... share the good times with our friends, share their happiness... leave them be lucky, and help them be lucky. Just ask yourself if you're the one who can comfort those traumatized by their fears. If you can really pull that off.

And if you ever put someone down, just think about it. Think about it again when that person's growing old, getting cancer, facing death, staring on the light coming from the TV. Sit down on the couch next to them and watch them die, when all you want to do is give them a little strength, and tell me how you feel."

I almost couldn't stop myself from crying, finished my beer in a go, ran to the toilet, out of myself, with memories hunting me. It was Jenn who stood there waiting when I got back. As we went outside she told me if I would go on taking things so serious, not controlling my temper, I would die of a heart-attack. That I should calm down and everything. God... like an angel. It's you I'm living for.

[Everybody's complaining all the time]

Kicking and screaming

A while ago Jennifer's neighbor came around her place and he found me battling the kids on the floor. They were going at me with beeping laser-guns, kicking and screaming, and I was fighting them back. That neighbor guy, I'm telling you... a dogmatic plastic puppet, fumbling around his clothes and opening the window wide and sniffing at the ash tray. I could tell by his nose high up in the air he was disgusted by how an adult could have so much silly fun. I don't care, really. He was going on about his reasonable things, while I was playing video games, bombing the kids buildings. Later I heard the stiff guy went around to tell what a bad influence I am.

What can I say. Of all the things that crawl this earth, I like kids the best. When I look at them, see the seed of energy and knowledge groomed for later use... their light-hearted humor, how brave they are, facing troubles of the world... so innocent and whole. I'll repeat the golden wisdom that you got to be just like a kid. And yet, while we should learn from what they do, we're treating them like little slaves. They shouldn't open their mouth to wide, which is pretty much what we do when we grow up, right. Who's deciding on their rights? Is it our job to play judge on them 'cause we're older and smarter?
You know what. All we're seeing are young kids and old kids. Nothing more. It's up to you to decide who to favor. But everyone likes to shape kids after themselves... ah, what's the use to go on about it.

[Kicking and screaming]


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