The Weary Heart


In the morning, when I first wake up, windows already open (for the weather this time of year is fine), I listen to birds chirping, then a dog barking somewhere, cars passing by on a nearby road . . .  But what else, I wonder as I lie there, do I have, what other assistance beyond these sounds can I call upon to help me greet the day?  No human companion lazes beside me.  Two cats, it is true, stare at me with patient, slightly reproachful eyes from the end of the bed (they're hungry); and my penis, happier upon awakening than virtually any other part of my being, bumps its excitable head against the sheets.  But then fear, sharp as a knife, cuts through my belly; imagination bubbles to life in my brain and, as the fog of sleep disintegrates, reveals a series of mirages, expectations that might or might not come to fill the void of all those many waking hours that lie ahead.  The presence of this void is, of course, the source of my fear; and the fact that I must get out of bed and face the day, that's the knife.  It is at last the mere itch of life, an excess of energy pooled from the storehouse of sleep, that causes me to twitch and jerk about as I lay, that forces me at last to get out of bed, go into the bathroom and wash my body, hang clothes upon it and enter into the fray as an active member of society.  Though, whether I act upon society or it upon me, and whether that be in a positive or negative manner, I no longer know how to tell.  I have no guides, no principles, no morals, no goals.  I am led only by whatever necessity presents, and/or by the pressures of others' needs and desires, though these may be barely conscious to them.  I am almost entirely passive, as most of us are; my one wilful act lies in my attempt to kick away all who try to influence me so that I might at last stop being pushed this way and that, might stop even swimming through my own murky depths, and instead sink at last with perfect indifference to the bottom of my soul and rest.


The entwining of the various encumbrances I face each day are sometimes difficult to bear, and seemingly impossible to break.  Their tendrils, delicate and penetrating, will seek to clutch at any support they find with a grasp which, once noticed, has already become as unbreakable as a python's coil; or, it may be, with an embrace so needful in its desire that it suffocates.  Possessions at least, both those that are commonly deemed necessary for survival and those that exist solely to provide comfort, can be, it would seem, easily enough discarded – though even those only to a point; they cannot be gotten rid of entirely.  One may be able to do without a refrigerator, say; but one cannot do without food.  Even if one depends entirely upon the kindness of others for sustenance, some semblance of reciprocity must be maintained, lest one be fully and finally scorned, and thus the battle with life lost.  From this simple beginning all other entanglements grow.  Why not then, for instance, simply take a job and be satisfied, when given the basic premise that something as simple, if also as coldly impersonal, as the transaction of time for money might offer sanctuary as well as basic succor?  It seems a straightforward enough bargain, and clear enough to support a simple hope.  Thus:  I will give you this, and in return, I will receive that.  But what is given is not general, but wrapped in the specifics of place and time; and what is received is not impersonal, but bound up intricately with the wants and needs of others.  So it is that running beneath the gridwork of laws and regulations governing our interactions with each other, and by which we strive to achieve an objectivity that will provide a uniformity of purpose and, ideally, of justice, lie all the imperfections of human nature.  Against that imperfection there exists no lasting protection.  For everything that's given, something must likewise be taken away.


Given all this, how can indifference be treated except with callous disregard?  For indifference will always be interpreted as selfishness.  And indifference, being pliable, will always give way to encounters with callousness, whatever form that callousness may take.  Indifference may be subject to anger, cajoling, the promise of fulfillment, brutality, kindness, hatred, despair.  So much is wanted, so much desired; how can anyone, it will be asked, remain indifferent to such need?  This, it will be maintained, does not provide a fair contract:  Indifference must provide an answer.  And indifference, being pliable, will become concave to such probings, will shift and bend, curve round and lean forth in response to such need.  It will spawn in its reaction something that takes on the appearance at least of kindness.  It will take on the appearance of trying, and of giving, though in reality it will only be giving way to the external pressures of another's need.  Still, bending in upon itself in one place, it will extend itself in another.  In the convolutions brought about by such pressures, in such concavities and attenuations, a coupling of sorts will ensue.  There will be a giving and a taking.  Accepting what is offered – and giving what is demanded – indifference will be diminished, not in substance but in kind, and thus it will come to know the meaning of suffering; it will embody the knowledge of suffering within itself.  Forced into an interpersonal contact between itself and others, and by such means arriving at an approximate understanding of what others lack, the indifferent party will extend itself, as if by responsive gesture, to relieve their suffering.  But though like may sympathize with like, there is no lasting reciprocity.  Indifference is the cornerstone, the bedrock, of all; thus we each and all of us fold back in upon ourselves and find within our own definitional awareness of indifference our one true identity.

~ END ~