Living is a concept, a general word for being, breathing, and beating with your soul, lungs, and heart. The brain is of course involved with the processes of all of these, as well as every other wonderful, terrible, pleasurable, painful aspect of life.
Living is being, as in being alive. In this way I suppose I, too, am living, because I am a being, I am breathing and my heart is beating.
But, I will repeat myself: living is a concept. An abstract idea of what it means to exist. I believe that living and existing are two very different things. I am very good at existing, have done it all my life. I used to be good at living, that thing that involves more than existing, that thing that involves laughing, loving, learning, things that also involve the lungs, heart, and brain. I traveled, I spoke, introduced, sang, ran, ate, touched, adventured, contacted, lived. All of these things are a step further from the level of existing, of surviving, to the level that humans have reached as a society: assurance instead of fear, abundance instead of deficiency, stability instead of uncertainty.
And now the clock goes back.
Not in time, but to a time.
Time, the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.
Time, like living, is abstract.
We have been thrown a curveball by nature. No, a curveball has been thrown to nature by the universe. The universe stuck a bear paw into a hive of bees to poke fun at the fact that we are never in control. We can mask that fact under our own masks, the ones that some people wear religiously and others throw to the side in an act of defiance or ignorance, or even egocentrism. We can hide that fact with short-term solutions which describe themselves, or long-term solutions that will only see an effect too late. We can hide as we are asked to, hide behind the word quarantine, which is a relief to those rare few who do it anyways but a bitter hindrance to families torn apart, children and adolescents who not only desire but require an education, and in this world time has almost come to a stop. Our focus has directed off of progression and shifted in a neck-snapping movement to a literal and metaphorical infection in society that has drawn together and torn apart humanity.
It may enlighten you to know that I write this from my bathroom, where I have created a space of such comfort I spend even more time than usual in here. I have no use for time because she is abundant and alienated. I can’t even remember the date, because every day is like the last one.
I do the necessities: waking up, using the toilet, eating, drinking, breathing, thinking, reacting, sleeping.
I do the distractions: internet, books, work, social media.
The internet is a rabbit hole. Books are amusing, but diversions all the same. Entertainment. Work is non-existent, because I was laid off when the pandemic hit (it was never that enjoyable anyways, just a bill-payer, so now I’m busy trying to find my passion that’s also possible while detained in ostracism). Social media is no longer fulfilling or appealing.
Diversions, to pass the clock.
Distractions, to avert the mind.
I exist, but do I have reason to live?
Food, knowledge, fleeting felicity, nothing makes me feel full anymore. A forgotten person writes words soon to be forgotten by the reader in a world that has forgotten purpose in exchange for pleasure, projects, and pastime.
I have never been an avid author. I prefer to absorb, accept and judge the words, writings, and worlds of writers, and as an editor, I was very good at it. But since I no longer have a job, working for someone else who pays me to be thoughtful and critical, I have decided to forget time and distract myself with a project. I will be thoughtful and critical of myself, and, using my own expertise, write my own world with words. I will do something I was never good enough at.
I was never good enough to become an author.
I was never good enough for Angela, my ex.
I was never good enough to get into my dream university.
Never, never, never enough, for my parents, for my teachers, for my employers, for me.
But now I will be. I will write my book, distracted by nothing but my wonderful world of words, my words, not the words of some hotshot fresh grad who thinks they’ll be the next Tolkien. I will let time pass, I will be stationary and stagnant in her river until I am ready to emerge, fresh and fulfilled and free.
I'll get up off my lamenting, self-sorry rear end and make something of myself. No, I already am something, but I need to prove (not to anyone else) that I, James Francis Trevino (ignore my middle name), do not just exist, did not just hide from disaster, safe in my apartment with my cats and empty ramen cups. I vomited, exploded, revealed myself through non-verbal correspondence. It's a process that's humbling, frightening, perplexing, divulging, unparalleled, spectacular, word-thieving. A mirror of myself: a beautiful mess. I am my project, learning about my thoughts and goals and dreams, uncontaminated by those around me.
So I write this as a promise to myself, for my eyes only.
A promise that one day, when my wings have emerged and my eyes have opened, and the last word is squeezed out of me like a solitary drop of ink onto a promising sheet of pigmentless paper, I will fly from my den, from my bathroom, from my house, all those physical ‘barriers’ that are nothing compared to the mental ones. My excuse for now is the quarantine. I will have no excuse later. I will not excuse myself by rotting away, romanticizing and justifying the worthlessness of humanity and myself, and the beauty of death.
Time, with all her barriers, will not hinder me. Disease, with all its destruction, will not destroy us. Distraction, with all her tactics of seduction, will not throw me off track. I am not satisfied with this just existing. I was not created to just exist.
I. Will. Live.