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The Find

November 28, 2014

How these pages came into my possession is of no importance. Suffice to say that no chicanery or deceit was involved in their acquisition.

What is significant is the glimpse that they have given me into another’s life. Reading these words I felt like a robber, stealing someone else’s sensations, surreptitiously experiencing that which is not mine. A diary, after all, is a place where one lets his defences down to reveal his inner self.

So many times in this metropolis I have failed to see life for what it truly is. Get up; run to work; run back home. This routine was as dehumanizing as any torture, and I was a part of it for a long time. My existence was reduced to that of an automaton.

But these papers shone through the grey monotony of my life like a lonely golden ray breaking through the forbidding clouds.

There they were, lying on the pavement outside an apartment block, as I was returning home from work. Waterlogged: they were waiting for the wind to carry them into their new abode. White fragile pieces on a black inert background – the scene bore a certain resemblance to a giant chessboard.

The discontinuity of the following account is a result of the incompleteness of the source itself. Nonetheless, despite the gaps, a uniquely powerful atmosphere, almost like a zeitgeist, envelops one as these words are read.

Let me share my find with you.

20 January 19–:

Something very peculiar happened to me as I was taking my regular walk by the beach earlier today. This event was so unexpected and shocking that not even the Gods of Destiny would have seen it coming.

In order for me to convey exactly the thoughts that started to run through my mind, let me first give a description of the scene that was unfolding before me.

I was sitting on an old, wooden bench near a gaudily yellow kiosk to gain my breath and to rest my legs. The weather was ominous. In the west, the sun was taking in its final gasps; its body’s redness mixed incongruously with the black of the ocean.

I often noticed how other walkers, overtaken by the beauty of a sunset, would slow down, come to a complete stop and watch the sun’s fire being extinguished by the cool waters. Yet I have always been left unmoved by the spectacle.

So often the dreams of one’s youth collapse into a chasm carved out by unrealized aims and unfulfilled ambitions. A few grow up and discover their talents. Others, their mediocrities. It occurred to me that my entire life has been a struggle against ordinariness and triteness.

And I was frightened. I felt the grey mediocrity invading my very being. There it was, penetrating me from all angles, filling in the cracks exposed by my meager defenses.

The soft leaves of the nearby young trees, the waxing crescent – they still looked the same, but with a merciless certainty that I had never before experienced, I knew and felt that I have been irreversibly changed by this realization.

While other people of my age were looking forward to socializing, finishing school and a bright future, I had to face a titanic struggle with an enemy I could not flee from, an enemy from which there was no hiding place.

More than that, I had to face my parents and tell them what had happened to me, for never before had I felt such intense, relentless unhappiness.

Father would be there, watching the evening news as usual. He doubtless would not look in my direction but would just give out a low grunt when told the news. Mother would almost certainly turn red. She’d go hysterical. Yes, that is what she would do.

11 February 19–:

Now that the worst has happened I can take a big sigh of relief, for I have nothing to be afraid of, any more. Only those who have had their most terrifying nightmares realized would have tasted this heady sensation of freedom that I am now feeling.

26 February 19–:

I have found a way through which I can reclaim my identity. I will find the significance of the cloud patterns in the sky. I will gaze at the sky all day long and draw the shape of every cloud in the big sketchbook that I purchased at the supermarket. I will then come home and analyze the drawings. From this analysis, I will come up with fundamental laws which will allow me to predict the shape of clouds in the days to come.

I’m like a rubber ball, the harder you hit me, the higher I rise!

15 March 19–:

Devastating disaster! Throughout all of yesterday, the clouds were following exactly the patterns that I had predicted. And then, just as I was about to pack up and go home, feeling satisfied and proud, this little puffy white cloud had to appear in the lower right hand corner of the sky, as one faces the sea. My laws never foretold the arrival of a cloud of that size and shape at that time and place. Now, because of that dumb puny cloud, I have to start all over again with my formulations of The Cardinal Laws of Motions of Clouds in the Sky.

17 April 19–:

Yesterday I spent most of the time in bed. I did not feel like getting up. I just lay there and analysed the past, trying to understand the linkage of events that led me to my present condition, trying to determine the exact moment when it started to go wrong for me.

I guess my tragedy was that I was too young when I realized the presence of divine impetus in my soul. With my slender years, my attention’s focus could not get away from the radiance emanating from my mind.

I gazed, overawed and powerless, at the wondrous landscape of my inner world and reality lost all its reality for me. I used to wonder how people could be worried and concerned by the drab, meaningless external events when the world of the mind was so much more fascinating and enthralling.

I would lose myself for hours on end in my contemplations, staring at my reflection, trying to understand the inexplicable and mysterious power that would emanate from the eyes in the mirror. What were they trying to tell me, those eyes?

I never did get adjusted to childhood or to teenage years. I never could work out how to be young.

28 April 19–:

Today I went to the city center just so that I could see normal people engaging in normal activity and experience some human contact, no matter how fleeting or inconsequential. Instead I learned that no type of loneliness is more excruciating than the one you feel in a crowd.

Alone in the ocean of humanity, waves of people endlessly washing over you. Who are these beings that rush past you? Unfamiliar faces that you never saw before and you will never see again, they have no time for you and you have no time for them, your existence as meaningless and insignificant to them as theirs are to you.

If the Rime of the Ancient Mariner was “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink” then surely the Rime of the Modern Journeyer must be “People, people everywhere and not a soul to talk to.”

20 May 19–:

Today my life shimmered before me in all of its multitudinous facets, in all of its innumerable permutations but I just stood there dumbfounded, overwhelmed by the infinite choice offered to me. I knew not what to do, could not reach out and hold onto even one possibility.

12 June 19–:

All day long I kept thinking of a persistent nightmare I had as a child, of being forced to witness the bizarre, inhuman spectacle of numbers increasing one at a time.

Ceaselessly they would grow larger and larger to hideous proportions; coming closer and closer to the yawning abysm where that monstrosity, The Devil of Infinity reigned, atop his throne of fire. Never actually reaching him but always in sight of his leering grin, his flickering tongue. He’d torment you with the vilest curses, safe in his knowledge that a mere mortal like you could never grasp his body.

After the friendly, familiar faces of One, Two, and Three, strange new entities would appear, with long, surly faces. No person ever had to see their ugly mugs before but here I was, a small child, condemned to look straight in the eyes of numbers like 15084307597502802380423797493720748038720734020 and feel the hatred exuding from them.

How it frightened me those numbers. In this world I was accursed to forever keep up with their merciless, inexorable progression, like an infinite column of army ants, without end, without pity.

Was there no escape from this ordeal? One million and one, one million and two, one million and three, sixty seven million four thousand and five, sixty seven million four thousand and six, somebody please stop this, but alas this world had no saving grace of death that awaited us in our physical lives.

And the Devil of Infinity would continue to grin his leering grin, observing this procession and my suffering from atop his throne of fire, knowing full well how unreachable he was in all his glory.

31 August 19–:

The pale buds of doubt have now blossomed into the bright flowers of despair.

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4 Comments
  1. Wow. Great rise to the challenge.

  2. Great piece, Boris. I remember reading it before. Interesting analysis of one’s identity. I do like this; “l’m like a rubber ball, the harder you hit me, the higher I rise!” and “I felt the grey mediocrity invading my very being.” As for me, I finally accepted my mediocrity! And I feel so much better. But my mediocrity is not grey, it’s colourful. 😉

    • thank you Irina, appreciate you reading it again and your thoughts on it. Yes, the rubber ball quote – I have used it as a stand-alone quote in various contexts.

      Colourful mediocrity? Interesting! I’ve never seen it that way before.

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