Alone

This particular short story was written with a specific character in mind who had lived a life of solitude and had come to see being alone as not a cursed ‘vemod’ as previously discussed but instead as a fact of life to be contented with. This writing was an exercise in character exploration with the themes of her coming through as a flavour for more extended pieces which exist across about half a dozen USB sticks and battered notebooks.

So, there I was in the violet glow of the neon bar lights, sipping casually with no one to miss to run home to. Perhaps it was always meant to be this way, I pondered, spinning the near empty cerveza bottle in my hand. The barkeep, a twenty-something in some hipster garb, glared dimly at me from his leaning post at the end; occasionally he glances at his phone before pocketing it to avoid the light catching the attention of the general manager who was prowling the neon kingdom.

Admittedly, it was a strange place to find oneself – this kind of place – but everywhere else had lost its appeal. Somehow, I was, in that moment, contented to be entirely lonely. Of course, there is a difference between being alone and lonely but lonely was what it was. A tranquil numbness in the humming sweat and noise of the room. If I were giving advice to someone in my position, I would say to them to cheer up because it could only get better from here on. From this point perched on a bar stool in some nameless strip club in Seattle on this chilly fall night, it could only get better – right?

I wasn’t facing the girls like the rest of the customers who were crowded round to watch some pornstar who had travelled up from L.A for one night only. It was a mighty fine stroke of luck to be graced with such a performance that I wouldn’t be watching. The cerveza’s were cheap and the shots of tequila were cheaper which, as far as I was concerned was the most pressing issue. Yet occasionally, I would glance down at my fading treasure in its plastic bag on the floor.

What does the world see? Some immigrant turning into her thirties with no direction just heavy pale eyes. Maybe that was the deep mystery behind the glare of the bartender. I’ve been drinking since 4pm which would suggest that unlike him, I don’t have some crippling student debt in some entirely worthless degree like media studies to lug around with me. Only the bags under my eyes weighed me down. Down to the floor where my canvas portrait rested against the sticky bottom of the bar, protected from even stickier grey linoleum by white plastic.

Loneliness is the price of that freedom. A delicious loneliness.

I roll my eyes and smile to myself; the crowd goes wild behind me as red panties fly in the air and land on the bar next. I raise the bottle to the bartender; he understands and gets another.

‘Hey are you going to keep those,’ asks a slurring voice from behind me as a sweaty finger enters my peripheral vision, pointing at the undergarment.

‘Yup.’

Z3N0

Being The Outsider

I’ve recently picked up a new game to play with friends, Conan Exiles it’s called and effectively it’s Minecraft with an emphasis on gratuitous violence and slaughter. You may have heard of it, it’s the game that allows you to fine tune your character’s endowment – I know, I’m a learned and sophisticated man (!). Yet this feeling hit me, a feeling so familiar when I spend time with others. It’s the feeling of being the outsider and not quite fitting in as the rest; being the spare part left on the shelf, only used for the sake of using it; the idiot little brother of the team of equals like the glorified side kick. I became frustrated at the game and frustrated at myself for feeling that way, with an unshakeable feeling of inadequacy and rejection.

It’s my personal nemesis: insecurity. It’s the cause of mistrust between me and my friends because I don’t trust them and in turn they don’t trust me. I’ve spoken before to no end about the need for trust and how vital it is to be a member of the Whole and wider human city yet I’ve not been able to take my own advice for one reason or another. I’m much better at giving advice than accepting, even if it’s my own. It’s an alienation of the self and in turn of others who feel hurt by the questioning of loyalty and little tests and fishing expeditions. It’s not perhaps as destructive as it once was in my life where I would actively commit acts to prove things right to myself. It’s funny, I can look back now and see it and recognize it in so many others that I’ve seen it in since. I can’t judge them for my own sins nor any other, I suppose as in the end it’s all self harm to the soul.

I meditated on it – something I do when I can’t find clarity in the moment, and something I recommend for everyone else. I found comfort in my own disquiet, seeing myself float through the endless expanse of universe alone, an island to myself. I held out my hand, not to reject the experience of it being held but accepting that it wouldn’t be. Then I heard a voice that was not my own and felt a tugging on my physical body. It was calling to me, to remind me that I wasn’t alone and despite by attempts to sweep it away to bask in my own solitude, it was stubborn and wouldn’t leave.

Not even an hour later, I messaged my friend who watched my grow increasingly isolated in myself for something to write about since Sundays can be quite slow for a spark. They suggested this very topic. That from my own perspective that I was a spare part but I was appreciated and was missed when I quit for the day. It made me smile, for a stoic I quit in a rage but then as a stoic reflected on the why and Universe provided me my friend’s insight. I’m grateful to them and fate, and I’m grateful to fate for the friendship.

Sometimes, we are outsiders in life. As stoics, as philosophers in our own right even people who simple wish to experience meta cognition, we separate ourselves to see the bigger picture. We need to to be able to observe the truth of things within ourselves and others and form a healthy and natural poise. Yet, something I need to manage is to not allow that separation to alienate me from the people I care about the most, my fellow human beings beyond that and my environment beyond that, et cetera.

Fellow outsiders, something to take notice of:

Batman can’t exist without his friends. Not without: Alfred, the first Robin, the second Robin, the third Robin, the fourth Robin, Catwoman, Oracle, Batgirl, Spoiler, Nightwing, Batwoman, Batwing, The Signal, Lucius Fox, James Gordon, even the Justice League.

And that’s Batman.

“‘I shall show you,’ said Hecato, ‘a love philtre compounded without drug or herb or witch’s spell. It is this: if you wish to be loved, love.” – Letters from a Stoic IX

Z3N0