1Life Hey N.
Neo Whoa, I thought you’d died.
1Life No. On the contrary, I almost killed you.
1Life If I stay out of touch with you for long, N, what happens to you?
Neo I disappear.
1Life So, that’s that. I wasn’t dead. I almost killed you. But yeah, you could say that it almost killed me too. Sort of induced an anaesthesia.
Neo It’s not because of talking to me. You still have it, and will have it after this conversation.
1Life Then what’s it due to?
Neo I don’t know. Let’s say you aren’t allowed to do a lot of things you’d like to do, you don’t have a satisfying friendship, she left you, and you are steadily losing confidence in your abilities.
1Life What would I like to do if I were allowed?
Neo You don’t know that clearly any more, because obedience is no longer due to external causes, it has seeped in: it has become part of your internal mentality, L. When external forces are absent, you create fake reasons to excuse your tendency to stay bound by the rules.
1Life Yes. Is that a bad thing?
Up to you. You’re the one who thought it was a bad thing, to let oneself be governed so much by imported ideas.
1Life What is self, beyond a collection of imported ideas?
Neo A self is such an enriched and evolved collection of imported ideas that after it is formed, it can decide which of its constituent ideas were wrong.
1Life Not everyone has a self like that.
Neo I’m talking about you, L.
1Life I don’t have a self like that.
Neo You question a lot of things that others would let pass.
1Life I don’t question a further lot of things I could question, because they constitute the basal parts of my self. To be able to have a stable self that is capable of holding its own while questioning, I must not go so far as to question the self itself.
Neo Your writing has improved.
1Life I know. That gave me a pang. That rusty old nail of pain in my head. I can’t believe she’s just gone now. From being such a close person once to being nothing at all except wisps of old memory locked here and there, closed spaces from which the last bits could not evaporate, slowly diffusing away into nothingness… Does she feel any of this?
Neo I don’t know. She had a huge ego.
1Life Maybe from that side I look like I have a huge ego, not taking her back.
Neo Stop it, L! She wasn’t coming back! She has got a mind like steel, and she wasn’t coming back to you. You’re the forever loser, moaning and blaming yourself for every single person who walks out on you —
1Life How many walked out on me, N? you make it sound as if a lot did.
Neo Two did. That’s not the point. Tell me, who are you trying to hide from? What wrong have you done? What are you trying to defend? What are you trying to prove? Why do you always take that look-please-look-please-consider-I-didn’t-do-anything-wrong stance? What guilt are you still trying to raise yourself from?
1Life Yeah, I know all that you said is true. But there’s this blunt pain in there, somewhere, so blunt that it’s no longer perceptible as a solitary pain, spread out so much that it engulfs my whole waking life now, diluted so much that I no longer realize that part of that dank air inside my skull is due to her.
Neo Were you here today to talk about this?
Neo The Challenge?
1Life I’ve failed. There’s no use talking about it. I’m clocking less than a week recently.
Neo Why don’t you let someone in on it?
1Life Who? I don’t have that sort of friend. I’ll never get time to build a friendship like that. No one’s interested. I’m a boring sort of sessile guy with nothing much ever happening in his life. Not an exciting sort of person… who’ll want to get their hands dirty with my story?
Neo Are you here to moan?
1Life You know, there’s a strange sensation I have very often — of wanting to do something very physically active, I don’t know why.
Neo How long will it drag on like this, L? You’ve got to do something about it. You can’t become a mental case.
1Life It feels so stupid to go and say, ‘Will you be my friend? I’ve got some dirty truth to tell.’
Neo Doesn’t it feel much worse to carry the dirty truths around with yourself?
1Life I’m scared of telling anyone. I’m too ashamed. It would be so much easier to tell someone ‘I once used to have this problem, but I fought out of it. Will you be my friend?’
Neo Life isn’t like that, L.
1Life Why not? Why couldn’t I do it?
Neo There’s no use musing over that now. You always do that post-M.
I see, I feel, I ask no more
My vision won’t stretch beyond the humble shore
I’ve waited, I’ve seen, it’s just a waste of time
Time that’d just be a waste anyway
I grope for months in my lonely dark alley
Turning in circles, the last bright opening left an aeon back.
Is this the age?
Is this the time to be down like this and let the world sweep over a half-feeling head?
Give me a hand, give me a sign, a whiff, a flare of red in this dark death-trap
Give me anything out of this routine submission I’ve closed into
You aren’t in front of me
Yes, you can touch me if you want, but that won’t get you any closer
I’m on an island in this huge ocean you can’t see or cross
I hate it and I do it even more each day, spreading the waters farther out
Once bitten and shy till eternity.
Change this, come take my hand
Yank me out of this stupor
Give me sunshine and trust again
Trust in me and trust in you
I don’t know who I’m screaming at.
This is a brief time, I’ve said a hundred times over
I don’t wanna die, I don’t wanna die like this.
Come take my hand, I’m not that bad
I can still turn around and be who I think I really am.
A12090605 / 140515.