Peter Steward's Web Site
THERE are those who can control life and those who allow life to control them. The first survive, the second perish.
And to perish can give them the release that they search so hard to achieve.
Allowing life to take control can destroy any sense of inner-being and bring a sense of worthlessness, a sense of being out of step with life and surroundings, a feeling of alienation.
These feelings are human and can strike at any time. And once they become the dominant factor, there is little that can be done to alleviate them. They will dominate, they will destroy. But above all there is no going back.
The destruction may be a long-term one taking years to ferment and bring to fruition. Or it may be sudden, like a monster wreaking revenge against the psyche and the body, eating away in a subtle but devastating way.
Take the man walking down the street. Who knows into which category he falls. Who will know until his body is found out of control and floating bloated in a river.
Take the woman who cannot cope with life itself. Who will know until she is found slumped in an armchair with a bottle of pills by her side.
Life is a lottery and in the case of the lottery, there are more losers than winners. So climb aboard this tale into a world populated by losers, by loners, by people out of step with reality. .. People who allow life to control them until it takes over and destroys them systematically.
He woke up in the middle of the night. The bed clothes were scattered. He was soaked with sweat. One dingy sheet was damp with the exertions of Just staying alive. But that was exactly what he wasn't sure about - whether he wanted to be alive.
The feeling was particularly strong in the waking hours of dawn. The time when the world hovered between sleep and being awake. The dawn before the day, the twilight time.
He wanted to scream. He wanted to scream and blaspheme against those responsible for the mess that was his life - the mess that was out of control. But as usual nothing came. He was empty, he was destroyed.
Matters raced through his head . . . pink elephants, surrealistic thoughts that spun webs of nothingness. Perhaps the thoughts were designed to destroy his mind from the fury from within.
It must have been about 4 a.m although he didn't have the wish or energy to check with his watch. And time really didn't matter in this twilight world of dark destiny.
He knew there would be no more sleep that night. He had been asleep for about three hours and that was three hours longer than he sometimes achieved. It was almost as if some force was preventing him from sleep - the one thing that gave him a break from responsibility, from being.
There would be no more sleep that night, there might not be any more sleep for a week of nights. The only sleep of any consequence was the endless sleep of endless night.
He didn't want to get up, but he didn't want to stay in bed. His world had crumbled . . . his time had come.
His head felt heavy but he had no time to think of the physical pain of being. He was aching from the possibility of the night before. But those possibilities had died along with his being.
He needed the toilet . . . what a stupid sensation . . A need to relieve himself when there could be no relief. Peeing would be merely going through the motions. But without going there would be more pressure and pain.
But wasn't that what he was looking for ? Wouldn't he welcome pain for its own end? Or did pain truly Just represent the knowledge that he was still alive.
No he needed no pain. He needed no reminder of where he was or who he was. He felt sick. Not physically sick. Not a stand with your head down the toilet and vomit sick. It was far worse than that. It was deep rooted, it was beyond the body to a plane that few of us ever understand or experience. It was a sickness that no print on a page can explain away, that no poet can mawkishly re-create, that no singer has ever expressed. It was a state of mind in itself, all encompassing, all embracing, a lover in search of a love.
They say a man or woman committing suicide sees their whole life flashing before them. His life had been flashing before him for years. Death the final sacrifice, the final ending. He didn't believe all that bible bashing about God, the holy spirit and all the rest of the crap.
That drivel was for ignorant people, people without a brain. He met a vicar once, a man of the cloth who seemed a reasonable enough chap. Reasonable that is when he wasn't sermonising.
The noise of a drill came to him. It seemed to be out in the street but how could that be at four in the morning. The drill must have been in his head, but he was so unsure. Everything was so difficult to understand.
How can a physical and mental wreck understand anything? How can a man understand anything when every day could be his last, when he held his own destiny in his own two hands. How could you when every day could, no should be his last?
Perhaps today would be his last after all one day had to be. It was purely a matter of determining the inevitable. Of making the decision himself. He had had to make so many decisions, but this was the all-embracing final one and it would have to be faced soon. It was a power to decide when the last day is going to be.
July 18th seemed as good a day as any It might be sunny. Then again it might rain. What if it rained ? What if he messed it up like he had messed up the rest of his life.
He thought of the spectrum. He thought of the rainbow. He thought of that song that goes .'red and yellow and pink and blue, orange and purple and green" or something like that.
He needed a coffee. Why was there nobody here. Why had they all left? But they had all left years ago.
He wanted a bloody coffee. Was that too much to ask for. Just a cup of coffee?
"Pour the hot water on the instant coffee," he told himself. That was all he had to do.
But it was too much . . . it was all too much. He couldn't take it.
"Okay make it tea. Pour the hot water on the tea bag". But that was too difficult as well. Perhaps that's why they all walked out on him, perhaps it was just too much for them.
He wished they would stop playing games with them. Perhaps he felt there was still some reason to live. That was bad . . . that meant there were still some strands of reality to cling to. Those strands should be ripped aside. He would learn to do it .. to jump the final hurdle.
He thought of James Dean - rebel without a cause. He thought of Hendrix, Ochs, Joplin, Morrison and all the rest. Symbols of death in life. Drugged up, spaced out but ultimately saved. All at rest making music in the sky somewhere - how purile.
And he thought of himself. Ultimately his thoughts always returned to the essential ego. However much he thought of Janis and the rest of them, it was he who was suffering the aches. He now had the problems. Perhaps he had inherited them. He was the one who felt that his head was going to explode.
Often the pressure became unbearable, sometimes he drifted into a hazy unconsciousness more akin to a state of confusion than the real world.
But then again what was the real world and who lived in it. Is the real world the world of cheats, the world of mountebanks. low there was a word that conjured up the past. Is the real world a world of charlatans and cheap thrills or was the real world somewhere he wanted to be but somewhere that wasn't within his grasp.
Occasionally lying awake in the middle of the night he thought about religion. How comforting it must be to have something deep and unmoving to believe in. Sometimes he would echo the words, spitting them out as though they were turning to dust and being ground into the dirt.
"My God why hast thou forsaken me?" - it was a trite comment on the essence of being. It often brought him back to where he began.
It often began with a dream, A dream of unreality, a world where he could become at one, a world where there was both light and shade and not interminable grey. A world of belief, a world of men and women living in natural harmony. But it was a nightmare world, a world that could never exist.
Better to be in his own cosy world of hatred and disbelief. Better to be seen but not to see.
So let's interlope on this man. Let's pull back the covers and find out what is within this frail under-nourished body. Tip-toe up to the bed. Don't make a sound because a sound could disturb the inner being.
So what do we see? We are looking at a physical and mental wreck. Look at him again. Does he appeal to you in any way.
Look at those glazed eyes. Look at that turned down mouth. Did it ever smile? Did it ever crinkle at the mouth. You bet it did.
But now. Why look at obsolescence, why consider total failure. Here are the eyes of the hurt, the eyes of destruction, the eyes of pain.
Even the youngest drooling baby has a life of its own. He had no life of his own. He was alone, shattered, etched on a disaster course.
He thought of the spectrum, he thought of the rainbow, He tried to focus his thoughts on the sunlight now streaming through the window. So he had made it through another night. He tried to concentrate but the one thing you can't do in such circumstances is damn well concentrate.
He reached for the glass at the side of the bed and raised it to his lips. There was no feeling there and no water inside. He looked at the puncture marks on his arms - a reminder of times past He felt cold, he felt panic. Panic like never before. He thought of the rare times when he had learnt to live with himself. They were few and far between. He very rarely knew who he was.
Did he ever really know who he was. Perhaps he had never touched reality. He had always been a misfit, swimming against the tide. But now that very tide threatened to encompass him, to take him over, to swirl about his head and in so doing destroy him.
He threw the glass to the
floor, it smashed into tiny fragments. It represented his life dashed into
tiny pieces in a meaningless room. He sank back in the grimy bed and fell
into a deep sleep . . . a deep deep sleep. No more sweet prince, flights
of angels fly the to thy rest. The final act had been completed.