February 12th, 2018
“Maybe this time,
Maybe this time I’ll outwit my past
I’ll throw away the numbers, the keys
And all the cards
Maybe I can carve out a living in the cold
At the outskirts of some city
I extinguish all my recent pasts
Become another man again
And have a quiet life
A quiet life for me
A quiet life
A quiet life for me
A quiet life for someone
An acquired life for me”
By Teho Teardo and Blixa Bargeld
I heard this song on the last episode of “Dark”, a German-language Netflix series. The song haunts me. I woke up in the middle of the night (like an hour ago) remembering the lyrics. The music is sad and there is deep sense of longing. The problem is that the artist longs for a peaceful, trouble-free existence that simply does not exist.
I know two elderly bachelors. The men are brothers. They live together in the house that their parents built back in the 1920’s. It is a place where time has stopped. I don’t visit them any more. It’s too depressing. In the past, whenever I would stop at their house, I would greet them and ask them, “So, what’s new?”
They would frown, and one of them would always shrug his shoulders and mutter, “What could be new? It’s always the same.”
The conversation generally went downhill from there.
These men have achieved the quiet life. It looks, sounds, and feels a lot like death.
In a few hours I will get on a train and go to Seattle to walk an unknown number of miles with total strangers. I do not have a quiet life. I can’t even imagine having one. Actually, I know very few people who have a quiet life, and if they do, I guarantee it won’t last. Life is by definition continuous change. It is turmoil and chaos and beautiful surprises.
I am not saying that an interesting life is necessarily pleasant. It’s not. Wars suck. Addictions suck. Craziness sucks (usually). However, none of these things are boring. On the positive side, a newborn baby is never boring. A rainbow is not boring. The smell of the ocean is not boring. An interesting life can be extremely painful and often terrifying. It also very real and very worthwhile.
Boredom and death are brothers. If I am bored, then I am not living. I might be breathing and I may have a heartbeat, but I am not really alive if the world bores me. I guess that I have been alive most of the time because my stay on earth has been endlessly fascinating. It’s been a roller coaster ride thus far, and I don’t plan on getting off quite yet.
I am not sure if I am looking forward to the endless walk. It might turn out to be uncomfortable and confusing. I know it will be surprising. At times I will shocked into a new awareness. That’s what I want. That’s what I need.