I read a funny quote once.
The problem with stupid people is that they don’t know they are stupid.
The joke is a paradox. Stupid people read it and they laugh. The problem is we’re all stupid. That’s the joke. And it’s not funny.
It’s not funny and I’m certainly not laughing. If I’m honest, I doubt I’ll ever laugh.
Another oft used quote is something along the lines of we all make it up as we go along. We’re all muddling along and trying to make the most of things. Making the best of a bad situation, and grinning and bearing it as we go.
Life is a state of denial. You can disagree with that if you like. That just proves that I’m right and you’re stupid. Denying that you’re in denial is right up there with as stupid as it gets.
Of course we’re stupid! We were born knowing the square root of bugger all and then, somewhere along the way our egos kick in and we think we know it all, which locks us into a perpetual state of idiocy.
You’re having a laugh there aren’t you?
We don’t think we know it all. That’s another self-refutation. There is no thinking going on here.
Instead we believe.
Belief is the single most stupid aspect that we are possessed of. We all believe things and we carry a belief system around with us. Even those who spend a huge element of themselves refuting the belief systems of others whilst denying they have one.
I’ve put your back up haven’t I? No, I have. None of us like being challenged and the worst of all challenges is against our belief systems.
What gives me the right to be so appallingly challenging?
Well, I’m about as stupid as it gets. I believed I was alive when all the evidence pointed to the contrary. I held on to the fact of my existence as proof of life. I refused to believe that I could be anything other than alive. My twisted logic was that if I was dead, then I would have ceased to exist and I held this absolute certainty that I would surely know if I were dead. Death is after all the one absolute certainty in life.
My argument was flawed in the presumption that I was alive. I’d made that arrogant assumption because I didn’t have anything else. I could not stomach an alternative.
But I knew.
Underneath the lava flow of denial I could still feel the truth. As much as I tried to burn it away, it remained constant. Truth has an annoying habit of clinging onto its constancy.
Let me tell you something, when you’re dead the dimension of time holds less meaning. It is demoted in the pecking order and down in the bowels of the organisation of your existence it is overlooked, ignored and treated quite badly. Honestly, it should file a grievance and HR should do something about it.
I joke of course, because time conspired against me and managed to embarrass me. I remained in a state of abject idiocy for the best part of a century.
There. I’ve said it. I’ve admitted it.
I was dead for almost a hundred years before I could countenance the fact of my demise. I would refer to myself as a loser, but I’d already lost everything and by rights should have had nothing else to lose. That should have been such a liberating state of affairs. I’d done my living and I’d gone through the worst part of living; death.
We fear death. We loath and resent it. Death gets in the way. Death ruins the party. We would get so much more done if it wasn’t for the stone faced denizen who insists on turning up to cut the cord of our life as the sands of our meagre existence are ebbing away.
I would tell you that I believed in oblivion at the point of death, but that would be a blatant lie. I cannot tell you anything about how I was prior to my death because I cannot remember who I was.
I do not remember my death.
Of all the things you think you would remember about your existence, it has to be your death.
But then, I don’t remember my birth either. I don’t remember my mortal birth and there is nothing there when I attempt any sort of recollection of my coming into this existence of mine.
I think I must have come into this state of being fully formed. A facsimile of the mortal I once was. No infancy or childhood. Just the shade of the man I might have been.
If I ever was like the man who lived, a hundred years of denial have followed. More than a life time of not living but refusing that I did not live.
You must wonder what I did in all of that time. That ridiculous era spent in a state of splendid misapprehension. I suppose I went through the motions. I did what I could with what I had. I ploughed a rut and I read a lot of books.
There were other things I did to pass the time. Things that I am not proud of. Pursuits that are seldom spoken of in polite company, or if they are, we all dismiss them as ribald and meaningless comments spoken in order to illicit a cheap laugh.
I sinned. I did a lot of sinning. What else is there to do when you live a solitary life.
I considered myself a loner and convinced myself that this was a choice that I had made. The truth is that I had no choice and my complete and utter isolation was another sort of death. You see, some of us die more than once. People are social beings and if we are separated from that which makes us make sense then we cease to be. We are that proverbial tree that makes a habit of falling in a forest at a time when there is no one to hear it.
I heard it though. I was there. I just wish I’d listened.
I am a ghost.
Being a ghost is not fun.
Being a ghost is a terrible eventuality foisted upon you when you are distracted with the prospect of your end. Everything happens in a chaotic frenzy and you are burped out into another sphere of existence like a morsel of food from a choking diner. I was ejected into this world by the Heimlich manoeuvre of fate.
I doubt I will ever cease fumbling around for a reason for my being here. My quest for meaning is ceaseless, for what else is there? I understand that this is a futile pursuit. The diner did not place me in their throat on purpose. They intended to swallow me. Fate intervened because it saw the diner choking and could not stand idly by. No one goes in pursuit of the globule of meat that was launched from the dying person. That person holds the stage. I was the sleight of hand. I am here thanks to a magic trick that went awry.
There are others. Not once did I think that I was the only one. After all, for such a long time I thought I was in the land of the living. There is something about the nature of our existence that prevents any sort of connection. We are not built for that and we are not meant for that. I just wish I knew what we were meant for. Maybe I knew that once and forgot it along with everything else I have forgotten.
Worse still is everything I have overlooked and ignored. Those things I have forgotten are a mere drop in that ocean. I have been deliberately blind. Pinballing myself through this existence in the vain hope that I would miraculously hit the jackpot.
Once I calmed down, after nigh on a century of cartwheeling and spinning through my existence, I began to see a little more clearly. Ghosts aren’t white sheets with eye holes badly cut out in a rushed after thought of a Halloween costume. We are not cheap special effects.
No, we are something altogether different to those twee and half thought out tales.
It's been two generations now. Soon to be three. I suppose there is a chance that I won’t move on when my current host passes, but somehow I doubt it. I think I’d know. It’s not like knowing when it’s your time to die. This is a twisted inversion of living and dying. I just don’t think I’ve done anything worthy of my ceasing to be held in this state. I have not fulfilled my purpose. I have not fulfilled by destiny.
The living have it easy in comparison. They can coast and fail to be anything of worth and they will suffer the same fate as everyone else. Many of them live longer. After all, the people who do what it was that they were meant for shine more brightly and the light that shines brightly does not shine for so long.
I know I did not shine brightly in my former life. I doubt I was a dullard either. That only leaves one other possibility.
For a century I have existed in purgatory and I have watched as my granddaughter led a bitter and twisted life. She punished an undeserving world and in taking her pain out on those around her, failed ever to live. Then I observed her son spoil the world around him. He was a baleful poison that blighted everything he laid his eyes upon.
Now I have the sad and pitiful prospect of following the bleak and tormented life of his daughter.
Sometimes I wonder whether Elizabeth is here with me. Will George follow me as we transition?
I don’t think they will.
I think I have always known this. And if that is the case, then I am beginning to understand why that may be.
I started this.
It’s all my fault.
I broke things so badly that my descendants cannot live properly. In fact, they live so badly that their offspring are broken in childhood and they carry on my evil and broken legacy.
For a hundred years I have witnessed this and thought I was living it. In a way, I suppose I was.
I started this.
I wonder whether I can ever finish it.