She hung up the phone. Had they really talked about anything of real consequence or had their conversation only been filled with empty phrases? She considered the different kinds of emptiness.
There is that emptiness that hopefully anticipates being filled with something meaningful. And there is the kind of emptiness you can sometimes stumble upon when you see something so beautiful that you stop in your tracks. Sometimes it can be achieved after a few days on a silent retreat.
But then there is the kind of emptiness that a meaningless conversation leaves behind. When you feel that the other person does not care one whit about you. They ask how you are, but they never listen you your answer – if they even so much as give you a chance to reply. They say all those empty phrases that really do not mean anything. They wish you well, but you get the feeling that they really do not care.
That was the lingering feeling of emptiness she felt after hanging up. It stayed with her the rest of the evening. Like a glass that needs refilling but remains empty. Or a slate that has been wiped clean but you desperately need it to convey a message. Like a friendless life.
Inspired by The Daily Post: Empty
He had gone to the city for the day. He did not really want to, but his job demanded it. When he was younger, he had liked the city – it had made him feel alive – but now he failed to see how. These days it just made him feel older and more tired.
The city was like a disease. As soon as you arrived there, you started to walk faster, talk faster and run up and down the underground escalators. No one was immune, and there was not way to recover from the disease except leave the city. If you stayed there you would get contagious to others, and you would get impatient and angry. Everyone in the city was struck by this disease. They just did not know it. Only those who came there temporarily knew about it. The permanent residents could not see it. They did not know something was wrong.
He was not even late for the meeting, but still he could feel the quickening of his steps and the impatience rising in him – it was like a fever – and he felt an urge to turn back and take the next train home.
Inspired by The Daily Post: City
I had never expected life with my children to be such a struggle, but then I had not expected to have two daughters with with autism and ADHD either. Every day is a struggle, and the days start early, at 4.30 a.m. approximately. But I haven’t had much sleep before that either. I put them to bed, and it takes anything between two and four hours before both of them have fallen asleep. I keep nodding off myself, lying beside the youngest one, but my oldest, in the top bunk bed, keeps talking and wakes me up every now and then because ”you’re not listening, mum!” Then when she is finally settled, I drag myself out into the bathroom, and if I have the energy I brush my teeth and change into my pyjamas. Otherwise I just collapse into bed in my clothes. I know I will soon be woken up anyway.
After no more than an hour one of my daughters will wake me up, either calling for mummy or crawling into my bed, and, more often than not, the other one will join us before I have had the chance to go back to sleep. Stuck in a small space in-between my Girls, there is no way I can fall asleep. Carefully, I wiggle out of bed, trying not to wake them up, I sneek into their bedroom and make myself comfortable in the lower bunk bed. ”Mummy, where are you?” My youngest daughter has a radar; as soon as I sneak off, she wakes up and comes after me. The bed is so narrow I fail to get any more sleep, and at 4.30 a.m. my oldest wakes me up rather brutally. No more sleep for me.
This goes on night after night. And day after day I have to leave them in day-care, kicking and screaming. And day after long day I have to work, even though I’m so tired I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t even know where I am or where I’m going when I’m driving.
Inspired by The Daily Post: Struggle
What human beings need is to find their way back to the point of simplicity, she thought to herself. They make even the simplest things complicated. Why? Because if they complicate things, they feel more intelligent. The more complicated, the more superior they feel. But there is nothing superior in stupidity. And above all there is nothing superior in being nasty to other people.
Being kind is simple, she pondered, while being vicious takes a lot of thought and energy. At point zero, the point of simplicity, one cannot help being nice. It takes no effort – a virtual energy-saving function. Maybe in the long run even life-saving. It would stop wars; it would stop people tearing at each others’ throats for no obvious reasons.
But how to achieve this? People seem to have been programmed to loathe, envy and hate each other. Brainwashed. Every day in media they are being fed stories of war and greed. How to counteract that? She would need to find help in starting a resistance. She could not do it by herself.
Inspired by The Daily Post: Simplicity
”Stay protected. Stay connected.”
That was his way of saying ”God bless you”. He had a habit of talking about God as if he were talking about the internet. If she was feeling blue, he would tell her to get connected to the world wide web, which meant prayer, or to download something from the server, which meant going to church. Some people called him blasphemous, but she just loved his metaphors.
”Will do”, she replied as she set off on her bike.
They had met at poetry night at the local library a couple of weeks ago. He had recited some of his latest poems and she was there to listen. Not because she had ever heard of him, but because she had a general love for poetry. She wrote poetry too but only for the drawer of her IKEA desk; she never showed them to anyone. After he had finished and was packing his books into his bag, she approached him. Being almost painfully shy, she had never done that sort of thing before, and did not quite know what to say. The first thing she could hink of was to compliment him on the imagery he used. ”It makes the poems come alive. They sort of oscillate mid-air and then land in your heart”, she had said, feeling quite the fool, but he had loved her comment almost as much as she loved his poetry and his way of describing God in a way that made her almost understand – at least she felt that she did – the incomprehensible.
Inspired by The Daily Post: Connected
He jabbed her arm playfully.
”Come on, let’s have a go at the swings!”
She froze and turned to him, staring incredulously at him.
”Have you gone insane? What will people think? We’re not teenagers any more, you know.”
It was his turn to not quite believe what he heard.
”People might think we’re enjoying life. What’s wrong with that?”
She wanted to tell him that she felt the need to be taken seriously. There was no was she was taking the risk of having people call her retarded. She had already been told too many times that she did not understand things and that she was incapable. Not by him, but by her parents and teachers. Only he actually saw her capability. He was good for her. In the short time they had know each other, she had already gained in confidence, and now his mission seemed to be to teach to how to enjoy life. She had forgotten.
When she was five or six years old she had lost her spark. It was clearly visible in her photos. She knew when she had lost it, but she was not quite aware of how it had happened. No one had ever appreciated her before; no one had told her she was brilliant for just being alive. And now she was too afraid of being herself. There was no way she could loosen up. She was like a knot that was too tight to be untied.
Inspired by The Daily Post: Playful
Her childhood had haunted her all her life. She was 87 now, and she knew the end of her life was coming closer. This was the second cancer she had had in two years. She was waiting for a second – hopefully – lifesaving cancer treatment.
Most of her adult life she had thought that as you got older one’s childhood would cease to hold one in such a tight grip, but in contrary, once she had turned 75 or 80 it once more tightened its grip on her. It was almost as if her father’s ghost had been haunting her. When she was out shopping for clothes she could almost hear his voice: ”That skirt looks awful! Don’t buy that top; it’s ugly!” And when she bought something she never really knew if it was because she knew her father would have liked it, or if she bought it because he would have hated it. Her own taste in clothes had been long forgotten. She simply had no idea how many of her garments she actually really liked. Her taste was garbled, forever mixed with the judgemental voice of her father.
Inspired by The Daily Post: Childhood