Andre came back to work in the kitchen again. You like him. He is 50 years old, tall, lanky, with salt and pepper hair. Brown eyes like deep pools. He moves slowly and with purpose. He laughs readily, though not easily; a thing must genuinely amuse him. When he speaks, it is in fragmented English or clouded French–neither of which you can fully understand. You wish you could translate his bizarre wisdom better.
ONe evening; while pouring over your Dutch lessions (that’s right, you decided to start studying Dutch), you screwed up a verb conjugation and said “God dammit!” Andre lifted his dolourous eyes and said, “God has nothing to do with that.” He then proceeded to explain his lack of faith in the divine. The people who gather at the farm in Orval for meditation and spiritual endeavors are merely placating themselves–trying to trick themselves into feeling good, he said. “There is no God. I have nearly died 8 times. I have been in a coma twice. There is no light. There is no hand of God. There is only darkness.” Andre lost a decade of his life to severe alcoholism. He lost everything. “I have been homeless. I know what it is to wake up and wonder if I will eat that day. I know that the only neccessary actions a man has is to eat, sleep, and work. That is all that matters. The people here can tell themselves anything they want about ‘God.’ But he does not exist.”
A DECADE, lost. Damn. Sure, everyone has heard stories like that. Many people know men like Andre. But have you ever stopped to consider how much transpires in a decade? A decade ago, you were 14 years old, just entering high school. Chubby, awkward. Ha! And how many memories you have! How many weird EXPERIENCES you have managed to cram in that short span! Over the next 3 or 4 decades, think of how many more you can add! Transitions, loves, losses, profound disappoinments… passion, excitement, change. Okay, no need to make this entry all emotional or anything. But damn, your last decade feels so LONG. And Andre LOST his.
Andre said, “I am 50 years old, but I have seen enough to feel like I am 75. I am tired. This is why I move slowly. When I first met you, I thought, she needs to SLOW DOWN. Marie, you move too fast. What is the rush?”
Well, you have to ask Andre, IS life short? You suppose its length is individually interpreted. You believe that predictable rhythms shorten life. The more interesting things are, the more you enjoy life moment-to-moment–the longer life becomes. You do not one day open your eyes, blink against the harsh lights of your office and wonder if you’ve ever left–how long you’ve been there–how long you will remain. You imagine that prisoners in solitary confinment know very well how to shut of their brains and make time pass quickly. Days melt into weeks melt into months melt into lost years.
So, you have been moving very quickly (maybe because you are running) but that is only to escape ‘boredom’–that is, a lack of stimuli. You are tired, yes, but you gotta run while you can. You should be grateful to have “miles to go before you sleep.”
You are in Brussels now, kickin’ it with Jan (who is, you think, the nicest man you have ever met and a good soul through and through). You caught a ride with a woman named Christine who is beautiful at 45; beautilful like sunlight. She has a 20 year old son; she was in a relationship for 14 years with a man. Just two years ago, realized how unhappy she was. She got divorced. “I have been FREE for two years, and I am still coping with how to be alone. I like being alone. I just don’t yet fully known what to do with all my freedom. I feel sensational. I can DO anything I want. Anything! It is amazing not to have to answer to anyone. I have money, my health, and energy. I am excited!”
Riding with Christine was a trip. You grinned ear to ear the entire two hours in the car. He enthusiasm was infectious. She said, “Marie, I am so jealous of you. You and I are similar. We are both free. But I am jealous that you learned this lesson at 24, and I had to wait until I was 43. All that time was lost!”
Do you really BELIEVE in lost time? What IS lost time? A lack of memories? A lack of accomplishments? Or merely a lack of change? Choose your definition wisely and go from there.
You say maybe it is a lack of change. Change in what? Events? Lifetyle? Mood?
Questions, questions… the best thing to do, at least for now, it to write it all down. Keep a record. Analyze later.