If an ambulance or fire engine or Garda car sounds its siren while it passes our house, my mother says, “Someone’s in trouble.” If I’m in an okay mood I’ll say, “I know, it’s terrible.” But if, like today, I’m liable to be put in a foul humour by anything other than being left completely on my own, I will mutter under my breath, “I don’t care.” I am very selfish and sometimes I think that other people don’t exist so why should I care about their pretend catastrophes? Having said that, other times I am so overwhelmed by the thought of strangers in terrible situations that I feel sick with worry and my imagination runs riot and I think, “What if it was me? What if it was my family?” And then I distract myself with TV or a book or something. Because it does not do to dwell on morbid thoughts for too long.
I tend not to dwell on things anyway, unless they really are terrible. You know, like the horrible, stupid, borderline evil things I’ve done by accident or by fate or by my own stupidity. In those cases, I can’t help but think endlessly about who I’ve upset, and how, and how I’ve upset myself. Usually I talk to a friend and then I feel okay and my brain can move onto other things. For the most part though, I avoid thinking. (This is probably obvious to some of you who know me in real life and know how ditzy I can be.)
You know that that time of the night when you’re tucked up in bed and you’ve just turned off the light and you’re lying there and before you fall asleep, you think. For most people, this is a time designated to thinking. They reflect on today and they plan for tomorrow. I don’t. I don’t like reflecting because I invariably end up in a bad light from the day’s stories. I don’t plan because everything just feels like too much. So I don’t think. I turn on the TV and fall asleep to the noises of other people thinking and talking, or I read a book until my eyes get too heavy. God forbid it’s a thought-provoking book. If it is, I counteract it by then turning on the TV to some mindless drivel with bad pop culture references. This method works and I’m content enough to avoid thinking about the bigger issues in life. Except, of course, love, which I can never stop thinking about. Then again, I like thinking about love. I like trying to figure it out. I like thinking about it in a theoretical way but if true life examples happen to slip into my thoughts, I abandon the endeavour and try to think of stupid things to text to my friends such as, “A period is a monthly massacre of the womb.”
At the moment, the little room I have in my brain for thinking about The Big Picture is filled with thoughts of careers. Even then, when I think about that too much, I wonder to myself why I want a career. Money? For what? To buy clothes and wine and a camera and to sometimes go on holidays to cold parts of the world to drink more wine. (Am I seeming like an alcoholic in the making yet?) It all sounds very dull and pointless and I’m not sure I buy into it. But what else is there?
There was an ad on the radio last night that told me that we as people are “born to shop.” I let out a snort of derision and disgust. If there are less likely reasons as to why I was born, I can’t think of one. Certainly I was not born to shop. How boring. How bleak. Does it follow that people who don’t shop for the latest trends in fashion, gadgetry and other meaningless paraphernalia are wasting their lives? They are not doing what they were “born” to do. What a terrible thought. And I say that all this paraphernalia is meaningless and of course it isn’t. For example, I am very attached to my laptop, though I doubt the feelings are reciprocated, and I have a wardrobe full of clothes that I alternately like and loathe, but I am not defined by these possessions, and more and more I am realising that I am certainly not defined by how much I buy. In fact, lately, I’m spending so little money that I’m wondering if the makers behind that radio ad would think me a soulless demon. Maybe.
I think, in my naivety, that we were born to love. I know that sounds terribly clichéd and vomit-inducing but I really believe that. I tried to come up with some alternatives but I couldn’t settle on any of them. I toyed with “we are born to create” but it didn’t feel right. And I thought that what we all have in common is that we love someone. Nietzsche said, “True, we love life, not because we are used to living, but because we are used to loving.” (Actually, Nietzsche may not have said that – my bank of quotes is embarrassingly inaccurate.) I am used to loving. Slowly I’m learning that there are certain people I shouldn’t love either because they don’t deserve it or because it hurts me to love them, or whatever other reason. But I love people. I love my friends and my family (virtually) unconditionally. I know that they love me too and I think that if we had nothing else in common, we’d still have that.