All in the name of safety and certainty.

“For the night is dark and full of terrors”.

She walks through inner city Johannesburg, arms tightly mantled around her purse, legs briskly kicking herself forward and eyes intently dismissing and avoiding any eye contact. She knows that today could be the day that she gets robbed, raped, murdered or all of the above. She’s never in her life felt safe walking through Joburg alone.

Sporadic glitches
He enters social situations with light tremors and twitches in his muscles. His palms are so hot and sweaty that they could be rented out as saunas for insects. He’s dyssemic around people because he feels like there’s always something socially expected of him and he’s caught between proving himself and uncertainty; a no man’s land – a purgatory for wall weeds. He knows that today could be the day that he is mocked, judged, alienated, criticised and what’s left of his self esteem killed off. He’s never felt safe walking through a discussion alone.

When home is not safe
We’re all looking for some type of safety, a concrete certainty; a financial, biological or social homeostasis… To risk is to go against human nature but how else do we prosper if not by going against the reasonability of our fears. The truth is we risk just to feel safe. We work for shelter, food and financial stability. We love and give just to know that there is a safety deposit box that we can invest our hearts in,even though there is a risk that that the returns will be terrible(unrequited). It’s a fucken scarey world and there are monsters waiting to tear you from limb to limb in every corner but you’re not living if you’re not gambling against a danger. Trapeze art and tightrope tiptoeing wouldn’t be as exciting without the grave possibility of death.

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Sometimes the fondest of memories are the ones unseen: child and blind man.

It’s not the prostitutes who forgot what shame was. It’s not the pollution clinging to the air or the dirt hugging the walls, making every commuter feel dirty after leaving the city. It’s not the forlorn beggars asking for change; no, expecting you to hand it over like philanthropy and altruism was a marked column in your budget.

I remember this

I remember the way he smelled, being pulled along by a child who was younger than a fifth of his age; like a dog. He would be guided into the mini bus taxi; he would be pushed through, stumbling, mumbling almost inaudible apologies. I could tell who the boss was in the relationship by the apathetic expression on the child’s face. He’s the responsible one, he’s the one who handles the money and pays. It’s hard not to wrinkle your noise at how they both smell. The blind man is seated next to me, eyelids flapping over two ghosts who left a long time ago and it’s like those empty sockets yearn to see but can’t like an arthritic hand trying to grab a-hold of the wind. I’m happy not to be cramped into one of those old slow super 16 Toyotas. South African car owners and people with alternative transportation who aren’t regular parcels of the dismal transport system will never know the joy of being seated in a relatively new Toyota Quantum. He’s blind but even he can sense the difference in the seating and its pace. I can overhear him speaking with his handler. It’s a simple joy for him.

A short stop

The blind man exits the mini bus taxi with the child in tow. You can hear the notorious taxi gossipers speaking about how they are there to solicit change for sorry stories. They have gotten off not far from my own stop. I guess the truth is, we’re all there to beg in one way or another. We’re trying to trade something for money and livelihood. They use the blind man’s empty sockets while I use a keyboard. This is their nine to five.

Knock off time 

He nonchalantly pulls the old man with his left hand while his right hand pages through an old catalogue. You can tell that he’s magazine window shopping for things that he’ll probably never get. There’s a cherry flavoured sucker hanging from his mouth and all I can think about when he dumps that rag into the dustbin is how he doesn’t care. He’ll play pretend for money but once upon a time, I think he cared; I think that he didn’t have to act for spare change and the tears were real. Routine ends up numbing you, you accept a situation as it is and you adapt. The story was once true but the new headphones hugging his neck say its all bullshit now. It’s knock off time for them just like it is for me. The child’s pockets are stuffed with what you get when sympathy and guilt meets with someone who has something while you have nothing. They’re riding home just like I am. It’s all the same, the sun sets on us three in the same way like a downcast product of a dead beat dad, counting broken promises on a Saturday afternoon.

 

A crawl space sized prison (Senile Ramblings from a wise old homeless man pt 9)

We often talk about how we want more freedom, more economic freedom or whatever but when you start studying current affairs like what’s going on in Egypt or China, it starts to become abundantly clear that freedom is a chain tethering us to our governments. The country you are in or from dictates how long and tight that chain is. We all have a certain amount of freedom. Some of us decide to hang ourselves by those chains and we die as martyrs but we’re resurrected every time a new generation reads about our struggles and our words. This freedom that you have given us will never be enough. Humanity is constantly trying to claw itself out of a crawl space sized prison that we have built for ourselves. It seems that there will never be an end to our hunger, until we die and we’ll die hungry but death will feed us. The thing is, I want to be free while I’m still alive; I want to be free while I’m still awake. I don’t want to dream freedom, I want to live it.   

Don’t drink the water (Senile Ramblings from a wise old homeless man pt 7)

When your dreams fall apart and every hope you have ever had seemingly vaporizes and abandons you, to make it in this world, you’re supposed to ignore the regret and pain that comes with failure. You have to some how get up and start again as if you were something mechanical,  an automaton tinkering along that needs to replace its rusted parts to be okay. You are not allowed to feel and most of us get it so wrong that we’re stuck feeling for the rest of our lives – picking at the same scab, never allowing it to scar over and heal. All we were was based on that dream that just some how got up and walked away from us.  It was everything that defined us. You found out what you were not and you got stuck in that void – in the middle of nothing. There was a point in time where you convinced that everything was okay and would be okay until you found out how disillusioned you were. There is no daylight any more – night and day seems the same. Memory reminds you of the times you could feel and how breathing the rain in felt. It’s like a smack now when it splashes you on the face. Now and then again, you get glimpses of what you were and you wish that you were a child again so you can be allowed to dream. You grow to realize that its a dream and so much of what you thought you wanted was an illusion. You’re an overstuffed waste bucket, a collection of every shitty experience you have ever had and you are so pale , frail and shell shocked against the sun light. You just wish you could go back and be what you once were.  Those glimpses are like tortures because they come and go, just when you think you’ve finally found sanctuary in a thought, it becomes over worn by the regret reminding you that you’ve climbed this hill before…

“One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” 

We cant do that any more. We cant fool ourselves into thinking that the mundane will provide us with enough self importance to justify our existence in the negative frames of society. What do we do now? We start searching for silver bullet cures in books, drugs and religion, dreaming that somehow in their words or chemicals, we’ll find a tunnel or a river that will wash away who we are and we’ll come out the other end, changed and happy. It’s a let down every time. Teach yourself to forget my friend. Teach yourself not to feel. You’ll lose a lot of your humanity but nothing can hurt you if you have nothing there. There is no suture that can stitch your child hood back. Sometimes the water is not made for drinking, sometimes you have to take a bath in it to come out clean. Unfortunately, there will always be stains and scars, you have to find resolution in your past, heal, gather the broken pieces that could still work for something new and move on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQG3yIEjS1Q

 

Pholcus phalangioides (Senile Ramblings from a wise old homeless man pt 6)

Remember when they made a mockery of your open heart ?  You were a walking freak show. Your skin looked like the graffiti’d walls of an old urban tenement ,not from tattoos but from a fresh batch of scars that life had left you with. When it got cold, you could feel all you had lost in that lonely chill like a phantom limb grinding itself on the sockets of a joint that once held your arm.

Word picture painter ,looking for a vacant stare for your art to reside in, they take you for granted my friend. Your soap box is worth much more than their useless hearts. You and I know that love is a dereliction of all good sense and you loved so much that they labelled you crazy.

One day you were walking back home, with your hands clutched tightly on a set of grocery bags. Gravity weighed down heavily on you that day and it felt like the clouds were gathering around you like an audience. The air was thick and humid and it felt as if you were trying to breathe in a slab of concrete. Fifty steps down an empty lane now separated you from home. You stopped dead in your tracks, turned around to see where you just walked from. You couldn’t identify the trail with yourself. You tried imagining yourself walking down those steps but it just felt like a painted back drop -artificial and dead. You wanted to somehow disappear into it so you dropped the bags like anchor weights, turned around and let the that thick air embrace you. You disappeared.

Word picture painter, how do you make the silence resonate so loudly? When they are next to you, they tread carefully like they were walking on humpty dumpty’s dead skin. Our poster boy for dissonance.

So here you are today, a letter addressed to human being or – is it being human? The two are both oxymoronic and as different as they are the same. You have done and been both and for that they’ve shown you an ugliness that can’t be blamed on bad lighting. At the end of your life, when  you were asked what a smile was, you were sure that it was another form of a sneer.

Word picture painter, your work still haunts me daily, with every word I quote from it, I hear your words echoing from the chambers of my own larynx. You will be missed.

This is what we read on the letter of your paper skin. “Don’t let entry level ass holes dishearten you. The world can only make you prisoner once you’ve given yourself up. Its safer to be a pedestrian than a passenger in a vehicle made to drive you crazy. All those eight legged monsters that you felt were a threat cant kill you. You see, the daddy long legs spider’s fangs are too short to penetrate  your skin deeply enough to harm you and even if they could cut deeper, they’re venom is too weak to kill you. That’s what they are, weak,poisonous creeps with plastic cutlery fangs and sometimes it may seem that they have hurt you but its not true. You are wasting your time in acknowledging them. You have the power to realize that you are a living article in the cypher of the infinite. You are and always will be even after death. Dreams keep the universe running and free thought has become so unfashionable that it feels like the world is spinning on a rusted axle.  Let go of the dust and embrace the wind.”