Tracy looked over her notes from their prior meetings one last time, “Thank you for coming to see me today Oliver. Your mother said you have been a tad distant lately, do you feel the same way?”
“Yeah, I guess you could describe it that way, disconnected, insignificant, irrelevant, it is all the same and none of it really matters anyway but that is okay,” said Oliver.
“That seems like quite a negative attitude to have about yourself at your age don’t you think?”
“Oh I am sorry madam, you misunderstand me, I don’t just feel that way towards myself; I feel that way about everything: the world, existence, the universe, everything.”
“Please, call me Tracy, Oliver. Do you know why you have been feeling this way? I worry when people are so unhappy at such an early age. I don’t want to scare you with this term but I must be frank. When negative feelings such as these present themselves this early on it does warrant a diagnosis of depression. Do you think you may be depressed, Oliver?”
“Oh, madam,” Oliver began.
“Tracy, please,” the shrink interrupted.
“Madam Tracy, you miss understand me, I don’t feel depressed in the slightest,” Oliver said with a smile on his face as if he understood an inside joke that Tracy just wasn’t wrapping her head around.
“Oliver, it is okay to embrace what you are feeling. Depression is a natural occurrence and it is nothing to be ashamed of. You do not have to deny your feelings. Actually, accepting that you are feeling sad is the best way to begin healing. I just want to make sure you are okay,” Tracy expressed.
Oscar thought out loud, “What do you mean by okay? Okay is such an odd word don't you think? Rather vague; it doesn’t necessarily mean bad and yet it doesn’t necessarily mean good.”
“Oliver, in all seriousness, have you had any suicidal thoughts, ideas, or attempts at self-harm? I know you are trying to box me out right now, but I would really appreciate it if you opened up to me. No one should be ashamed or afraid of discussing their feelings. Your mental health is just as important to take care of as your physical health.”
Oliver’s eyes grew wide when he responded to the therapist in utter bewilderment, “Why on earth would I contemplate suicide when I have never felt more alive in my entire life, Madam Tracy.”
“Oliver you are twelve and not to be condescending, but your life has thus far been very short, and I am not quite sure what you are getting at. I realize you have a very gifted mind, brilliant mind and sometimes I really do have a hard time interpreting your thoughts. Would you be able to-” A timer blares in the distance and wrecks the train of thought trailing out of Tracy’s mouth.
“Sorry Madam, but that looks like all we have time for in our session today,” Oliver said. “Apologies for leaving you with such a cliffhanger but I have a very important football practice to make. Actually, to be honest, I don’t give two hoots about football. I would rather save my brain from the traumas of concussions but I promised my father I would at least try. The good news is that I am utterly atrocious at athletics and have full expectancy to get cut from the team. So, I should have a fully functioning brain for our meeting next week! Good evening to you Madam, until we meet again.”
“Wait! Oliver-” Tracy shouted, but it was too late. He had darted out the door faster than a convict escaping parole. Like trying to remember a dream, Oliver had come and gone leaving the therapist sitting there in a stupor of confusion. He left Tracy like a detective on a cold case as she compiled all her notes from the session trying to connect the dots and make sense of all the clues he may have left behind.
He seemed happy, she thought, a bit unfiltered, a little mysterious and definitely a tad strange for a twelve-year-old but nonetheless happy. But, he did say he felt disconnected and even irrelevant. Insignificant I can understand. I mean the kid is twelve years old, but irrelevant? He has to realize that he is relevant to the people around him. I hope that Oliver is okay. God, they grow up so fast, I can’t believe I have been seeing that kid for a year already. An utter genius, such a brilliant mind for someone so young, no wonder his mother is worried about him she already can’t keep up with him, maybe none of us can. I hope he isn’t too lonely in this big scary world.
“Good morning Oliver,” Tracy greeted the young boy as he flopped onto the shrink’s office couch.
“Madam, delightful to see you again. I hope all is well with you this fine morning,” Oliver politely inquired.
“Please Oliver, call me Tracy,” she said with slight annoyance in a comical tone.
“Madam Tracy, delightful to see you again,” Oliver smiled with his response.
“Ignoring that for now,” Tracy said, “How are you today? How did your football tryouts go last week?”
“The tryouts went exactly as expected,” Oliver said. “The coach asked me if I wanted to play and I said I would rather not because I don’t want to harm my brain like the rest of you idiots and then I was picked up by my father about ten minutes later and told him I gave it my best shot.”
“Probably for the best I suppose,” Tracy said. “Well I guess just to jump back in from where we left off last week; I recall that you said you feel, “Alive”, would you care to elaborate on?”
Oliver asked, “Are you prepared for a monologue?”
Tracy with a puzzled look on her face said, “I am sorry, a what?”
Oliver responds, “A monologue, a long tedious speech by someone in a conversation.”
“Ummm, if that means you will open up to me then sure, absolutely, please deliver to me your monologue,” Tracy said, still a tad confused.
“Irrelevant is defined as not being relevant to something,” Oliver began.“My point is this, nothing has any relevance to anything: not you, nor I, not even that silly nicknack placed upon your desk. Individually, sure, you may take great pride in your nicknacks, for all I know you could be a hoarder, and those silly items may seem relevant to you. But on a grander scale, the scales that really matter, nothing that we can physically perceive, understand, or quantify is relevant.”
Tracy looked puzzled and asked, “What do you mean by this grander scale? Oliver, what could be grander than your beautiful but short, finite time alive with everyone who cares about you?”
“Monologues usually don’t have interruptions,” Oliver chimed in with a smile and a joke, “but, to answer your question pertaining to grandeur, the answer is everything. Everything is grander than my life here on Earth, the people I encounter, the things I do but, this doesn’t just apply to me, it is the same for everyone. Nothing that we do in our miniscule, finite time on Earth is relevant because the forces at play in the vastness of the universe far exceed anything we would perceive as being relevant. The false connection you seem to be drawing is the equivalence of this belief to sadness or depression. This could not be farther from the truth Madam. I feel sadness, I feel happiness, I feel anger, and I feel every emotion on the spectrum just as any other person does. But, these feelings aren’t relevant to anything. They are but fleeting moments of biochemical signals and switches that turn off and on in my brain on a molecular level that I haven’t the faintest hope of understanding. I am a human with more questions than answers but, I do not dwell in sadness and depression on this fact. Rather, I have achieved a point of liberation that I never thought possible.”
“Oliver I will be honest you are starting to lose me a bit here,” Tracy said.
Oliver sighs and continues, “ My point is this, if nothing I do in my life is relevant to the universe then I can do anything I want with my life. I can do anything without fear, doubt, or worry because, at the end of my days nothing will be different: The universe will still be expanding, galaxies will still be born and consumed, stars will grow and implode, planets will harbor life or be inhospitable, living organisms will still try to survive, and human beings will still be trying to figure out all of these larger than life questions to no avail. Most of us spend our entire lives seeking relevancy, recognition, to leave a legacy or some mark on the world so that we won’t be forgotten, so that we won’t become irrelevant. But, the reality is, we are born irrelevant. Humanity will keep on populating this planet until a larger predator, disease, or catastrophic cosmic event wipes us all out and then what? All of that stress and worry seeking relevancy, when in the end we are all going to die. Not just as individuals but, as a species we will be extinct at some point inevitably. Nothing matters, we are all irrelevant, and that is where I have found my freedom, my peace. We are all part of something bigger than our fragile little egos refuse to recognize because we are selfish creatures just trying to survive like any other life form. Eventually this planet, that we are also destroying, will just become another desolate rock floating through an ever expanding universe so why worry about relevancy? Peace can be found in the irrelevancy of existence, all you have to do is embrace it and your life is truly yours because nothing you do will matter in the end. And, if nothing you do matters, then why not just do what you love, enjoy the company of people you care for, and live the life you want to live. To hell with leaving a legacy because the legacy of humanity, of planet Earth, and probably of the universe at some point will be irrelevant when it all comes collapsing back in on itself.”
Oliver breathes a heavy sigh and sinks deeper into the shrink’s couch. Tracy sighs and slumps back into her chair. They both stair at the ceiling in silence for what feels like an unfathomable amount of time. An alarm blares in the background shattering the silence.
“Well I will see you next week Madam Tracy, thank you for listening to my Ted Talk.” And with that Oliver swooped up his belongings and glided out the door. Tracy waves and smiles and watches in awe at the wisdom a small, irrelevant boy has.