Kolbjørn Landvik and Calypso Kneeblood and Lineoleum Price have suddenly come back into my life, returning after a years-long absence. They appeared at my figurative mental doorstep, looking thin, dirty, and bedraggled, their pleading eyes enough to make me open the door and let them in. These men were not the same ones who left without me. When they headed north, toward the Canadian wilderness, they were full of fierce bluster and bravado, convinced that living a demanding, isolated life far from the hypocrisy of modern society would cleanse their souls and let them relive their youths. When they returned, the look of defeat was in their eyes. Perhaps they would have had more success had they made their pilgrimage when they were young men. But storming off into the far reaches of places unknown—as each of them approached their seventieth birthday—was almost certain to be too much for them. They had to learn that sad truth for themselves, though. Only after trying and failing to recapture and relive youth could they begin to come to grips with an unfortunate reality. If a person misses his chance to pursue challenge and adventure in his youth, that chance is gone. For good. Though missing the idiocy of running with the bulls in Pamplona is no doubt good fortune, failing to take advantage of opportunities to experience life as a youthful vagabond closes doors that can never again be opened.
Kolbjørn and Calypso and Lineoleum, their faces frozen in perpetual sad frowns, came back as dejected old men. They regaled me with tales of what they wished they had done with their lives. But what they had done, in reality, was far less enthralling. They had followed a path that minimized risk at the expense of joy. Their mundane lives, hidden behind fictional stories of heart-stopping adventure, were like the lives of so many others: dull and predictable and embarrassingly pointless. When they left for the far reaches of northern Canada, the three of them hoped they could overcome the soul-crushing emptiness of lives lived far from the edge. They hoped they could atone for safe, predictable, uneventful lives.
Atonement cannot be had. There is but one chance to live each moment. Once that moment is gone, it cannot be retrieved. History devours every minute, every second. Life experiences cannot be snatched from the ravenous jaws of time. We can delude ourselves into believing otherwise, but even our delusions cannot hide the painful truth.
So, where does that leave me? Have I become the caregiver for Kolbjørn and Calypso and Lineoleum? Must I now attempt to ease their transition into old age and all the regret it brings with it? Must I endeavor to change their wished-for adventures into believable artificial memories, recreating lives never lived?
Perhaps it is I who is living a fantasy. Perhaps they have lived wildly full lives, experiencing all the madness and folly and ecstasy of life on the cutting edge of joy. Maybe their foray into the Canadian wilderness left them with memories of experiences more joyful than expected, even in their wildest dreams! Are their eyes really pleading, or am I projecting my emotions onto them?
Time will tell.
I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations— one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it—you will regret both.
~ Søren Kierkegaard ~
I awoke before 4 this morning and immediately went about my new routine. I may find it a bit tough to adjust to the new morning ritual. Challenging or not, though, I must get used to it. Or suffer the potential consequences somewhere down the road. Those consequences might take years to surface. Or they could occur almost immediately. So, unless I have a desire to experience, first-hand, a plunge into something unknown and unpleasant, I must adjust. And, so, I will. Dammit. There are so many things I wish I could change about the past. I wish I had never been a smoker. I wish I had taken better care of my physical and mental health over the years. I wish I had allowed/forced myself to more aggressively take risks. I wish I had done many of the things I wanted, but was too afraid, to do. I wish I had never been the inexcusably cruel bastard who lived inside my body for so long. I suppose I was angry with myself for being who I was, rather than who I wanted to be, and lashed out at the people around me rather than take it out on myself. Forgiveness for the unforgiveable is an unobtainable fantasy.
I burned my last cone of incense this morning. A new supply should arrive this week. The aroma of incense does not sooth me. It is my reaction to the smell that sometimes causes me to relax. It is my imagination. I trick myself into believing the wafting scent has a calming effect on me. I see through that ploy, but I play along. Or maybe I don’t see through it. Maybe I tell myself I do because I do not want to be manipulated by a belief that has no foundation in fact. Either way, it does not matter. Such a small, insignificant issue does not deserve any attention at all. Yet I devote time and space on the computer screen to it. Why? Because that’s what I do. I fill my computer screen with words that convey ideas that do not matter. Some days, I feel like I should have joined Kolbjørn and Calypso and Lineoleum on their misguided journey in their search for meaning. But had I done so, I probably would have died, shivering in the frigid cold.
Here it is, 6 a.m., and I am ready to call it a day. For the blog, at least. Time for me to plunge into the day in an effort to make it worth my waking. Breakfast is hours away. It’s a good thing I am not hungry. I am pleased I woke early today. It allowed me time to reflect and time to recover from that reflection. Onward toward dawn!
Glad your characters came back. Good beginning to what was probably an emotional church service for you as it was for me. I knew all those wonderful people. Saw lots of new people crumble cookies.
Love your creative names for characters. When asked the most beautiful words in the English language, “cellar door” was suggested. I think Linoleum also has a pleasant sound. Oops. Just checked – you added an additional syllable. Lineoleum. Typo or deliberate? Anyway, creative, and still rolls off the tongue nicely.