Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ancient History: Mumblings from the Sickbed

Note: This is just a really old composition that I found buried in my external hard drive. It was meant for publishing, but somehow never made it through, till now. Some editing has been done, but not everything herein applies today as it might have done then.
The strangest things come to mind when you’re sick, when your body refuses to obey commands, moving with only the greatest reluctance. Thoughts that you’d normally push to the furthest corners of your busy mind, being more concerned with coordinating ones feet so as not to twist them together and make a complete fool of oneself by falling face-first into the seven-layer joke of a wedding cake.

When you’re sick it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters but the quest for a speedy recovery, to resume that demanding lifestyle where most of the interesting thoughts are pushed aside in favor of simply living. Wouldn’t the world be more interesting if everyone went in and out of sickness, setting onto paper or screen such interesting thoughts? It would be a brighter place. Or maybe a tad darker, I’ll grant you that. We’d never get any work done either. But that wouldn’t matter, would it, trapped in the deliciousness of one’s thoughts? A world of lotus eaters eating imaginary lotuses.

Of course, that’s only if you are given to deep thoughts when bedridden. There are many people who enjoy the ability to think such thoughts throughout most of their daily lives, without the need of falling sick. We call these people philosophers. They do our thinking for us, and we choose whether or not to accept their thinking for our own. I’m perfectly capable of doing the same, but I don’t have the benefit of having ample time to squander on pondering the definition of my existence in exhaustive detail. I’d much rather plant a field of lotuses where they don’t belong just to annoy City Hall.

That’s the first of the many strange thoughts that came to mind when I was last confined to bed. Granted, much of it seems to be the usual philosophical, introspective babble I spew for fun. I suppose the very fact that I was sick when I thought them up gives them a sense of grandeur. Listen with bated breath, o loyal listeners, to my tentative final words… It’s the gravity sickness attaches to the atmosphere. Imagine a paragon of the stereotypical chauvinistic alpha-male breed making a passionate speech in support of matriarchal society. Now imagine the same speech being made by the old lady who lives next door with her twenty-six cannibalistic cats.

I’m starting to think that I’m just being long-winded and annoying. Am I? Well it doesn’t really matter, because if you’ve read up to here and you say you’re annoyed, you’re really being a prig for the sake of being a prig. Whatever. On to the second thought.

There are certain benefits to being male as opposed to female. I can go around topless and no one will complain. This isn’t really unique, but as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, there’s hardly a thought that hasn’t been thought of by someone else. Beer-bellied men brandish this advantage like a trophy. Medieval bra-burners see it as a form of sexual discrimination that they can’t walk around topless without being charged for committing ‘public indecency’. Meanwhile, the nudists lock themselves up in their private resorts and laugh at everyone. Or end up spending a few nights in jail.

Recently we discovered that termites had invaded our house. Despite being sick, I volunteered to help in prepping the house for the terminators- moving heavy furniture and generally making a huge mess of everything just so they could drill a few holes around the perimeter and spray the wooden bits, and sneezing loud enough to scare away any remaining termite in range every five seconds. It didn’t help that it’s always summer here. If I had my way the equator would be vertical instead of horizontal. Failing that I’d settle for a giant parasol over my house.

I should really have spent the day doing absolutely nothing. I didn’t really have much of a choice, though. There really wasn’t a single place to sit- and outside, the heat was waiting, although I did manage to sit on the balcony, half in shade, giving my feet a tan as I sat there shirtless, the shirt being dried for the –teenth time- after all, it wouldn’t make much sense to have to wet several shirts in the course of one day’s work. In any case, I only went around the house topless after they left. Do you sense the paradox at work here? The bra-burners would love to do what I did, and there I was consigning that freedom to the bin.

Here’s one thought that came to mind as I lay in bed. It’s to do with how I view friendship. Years ago, having too much free time to waste, and almost zero synchrony between tongue and mind, which made for quite a few awkward moments. I vaguely attempted to classify various degrees of friendship, the first being the clich├ęd ‘best of friends’- BFF and all that crap, the second being ‘normal friends’, and after that ‘people I don’t mind talking too’, following that, ‘individuals that might be convenient’, and finally everyone else lumped into one big pile of waste.

My fascination for categorizing things has faded away. Now, friends are just friends. No more than that. No best friends. No more commodities. Friendship is still a difficult concept to me, though. Oh, I understand how it works, but a part of me instinctively rejects others’ tokens of friendship. When declared to be a friend by someone who could very well become a friend in due time, I recoil in horror. Something in me is just repelled by the idea of so easily becoming another’s friend. Friendship, like love, is something that takes time to develop, something that requires effort to maintain and nurture, not something that magically appears out of nowhere.

Perhaps it’s just me. Maybe there’s this invisible Trojan wall surrounding me, shielding me from common rationality. From inside the wall, I know perfectly well that many a friendship is born out of the simple words ‘let’s be friends’, ‘will you be my friend’ and the willingness to make it work. I’m repelled, but at the same time I can’t help but be fascinated. I might as well use this opportunity to make an announcement. To everyone who I’ve acknowledged as ‘friend’ without meaning it, to everyone who named me ‘friend’ without me making an effort to go along with it, I’m sorry. I really am. But at the same time, I’m not. Because that’s just how I am, and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

That’s it for now. There might have been more thoughts that came to me as I lay there in the darkness (Or slogging in the heat), but the gap between that time and the typing of this piece is just to great that I’ve forgotten all but the most developed ones, which aren’t all that strange anyway. Just common thoughts. Nothing grand. Nothing that would bring forth a chorus of oohs and ahhs. Being sick didn’t add to the ambience. It didn’t do anything at all. It wasn’t much fun being sick anyway. I suppose there’s not much point to being sick then. It really isn’t a good time to be sick anyway. So there. Let’s not be sick, then, and focus on where to go next, what to eat. Because the same thoughts come along anyway. They aren’t even all that strange anyway. So let’s just stay healthy. And no, in case you’re wondering, I am not attached to the Ministry of Health in any way whatsoever. Are you annoyed now? I know I am.


  1. Random thoughts popped up in my head as I was reading this, so much so that I don't think I'm going to hash them all out here. One phrase though, hooked my imagination for a while.

    "cannibalistic cats".

    While I was pretty sure you meant 'human-eating', you are usually not careless with words, which made me start thinking about epic cat-fights in a house of musty old furniture, resulting in crippled cats with missing eyes and torn ears. Well, at least the old lady is safe.

  2. @TJ: Right you are (at least, I think you are- it's been some time since I composed this). I pity whoever Social Services sends over. -shivers-

  3. @A20-man: Hey, tried last night, your site is back up!

    In essence, the best cure for overactive thought is a sufficient dose of physical activity. And vice versa, the best cure for inactive thought is a sufficient dose of physical confinement. For better or worse... I mean, didn't Hitler write his "Mein Kampf" while locked in a jail cell? Ah, ancient history: I wonder if Socrates, Plato and Aristotle would have ever philosophized so much if they enjoyed a healthy dose of Greco-Roman wresting... (P.S. Wait, according to Wiki, Plato did wrestle, haha.)

  4. @Jay: It was down? Hooboy. Glad I didn't notice it or I would have been too irritated to fall asleep.

    Heh, so the world (might) have had a better 20th century if Hitler wasn't jailed but kept isolated in a sort of Alice in Wonderland state. On the other hand, they probably should have just NOT given him any paper to write on... hmm. I'm starting to think labor camps are a much better alternative to prisons now. They could have tea parties as entertainment...

    Haha. I wonder if Archimedes didn't come up with his theory of... uh, 'fulcrums and levers' while wrestling some Herculean chap:P

  5. @A20-man: Yup, down. Might've been one of those maintenance periods. Who knows? Hmm, secondly, interesting question: If Hitler, like Lelouch, was a force of evil that united disparate nations, would the world have been worse without him? If Hitler had been just a little more talented as a bohemian painter and succeeded in Vienna, would another worse evil have been born instead? Now that's a philosophical trialogue fit for Socrates, Archimedes and Hercules!

  6. @Jay: Hmm, I dunno about that comparison of Lelouch to Hitler (I'd personally go for Napoleon), but as for your question, given the state of Germany at that time- post Treaty of Versailles, mass depression, etc, I guess it's entirely possible that some other opportunistic, charismatic person would show up and do the same thing. Heh, maybe he/she would look better than Hitler. Then again, despite everything the old Fuhrer did, he did give us that hilarious mustache:P

  7. @A20-man: Ahh, true, I wouldn't mind Napolean either. Alas, Hitler didn't invent the "toothbrush mustache". I popped over to Wiki, and Charlie Chaplin sported one as well. In fact, during my search, there are photoshopped images of a stache-less Hitler. Not too bad. Now the real question is whether Lelouch's "tulip" helmet was even more ridiculous, haha.

  8. @Jay: Haha. That led me to imagine sticking Hitler in my mouth every day. Scary. Chaplin had it first? I wonder if Herr Hitler was aware of it.
    Hehe. I quite liked Lulu's tulip, especially the way it opened up. Just imagine how it would have looked if he'd decided to use a Carnation... or the Rafflesia flower. The horror:(