Optimistic

It’s not easy picking up after more than four months of silence. But that was the appeal of blogging under a pseudonym to begin with. There were no pressures to maintain the grasp of an audience. I could write, stop, and resume at will. I wrote for a sense of freedom; shackles, I already had plenty of.

But this month drones on with depressing story after depressing story. I needed to write again, if only to my troubled self, to reclaim a sense of purpose. I needed to sit for a chat with me like in days of old, and talk to the one person I am fully comfortable talking to.

The presidential elections took their toll on my time and faculties. It was about then that I’d stopped writing. Much was being said about the situation in Egypt that one more word in an empty well of echos was hardly worth it. I belonged to a small commune of people who willingly discerned many shades of grey in a world of dogs who only saw in black and white. And my father taught me that in Bedlam, the wisest kept counsel to themselves.

We had come full circle, from one authoritarian chapter to another, albeit this one was much more zany with its cast of farcical antiheroes. And the funnier it got, the more it hurt. Over and over again, the lyrics of Pompeii played in my head. “And if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing’s changed at all? … How am I going to be an optimist about this?”

But the upbeat drags me out of bed every morning. I am a little man who can only make a little difference, and by Jove I will.

There is only so much that can be accomplished by despondence. Barely anything.

Giving in to the allure of carping over politics seems like the thing that’s in these days. And I can understand where the pull comes from, what with everything happening on the home front and everywhere else. Waking up to news of a massacre or a forced displacement is hardly an uplifting experience. The abject depravation emanating from the television set, the bleating of our beloved pundits, and the asinine shtick in our courtrooms can drive a man insane. And hearing people trying to condone massacres, praise the butcher, and impudently attempt to explain the inexplicable, will just throw a stake through whatever is left of your belief in humanity. Understood.

What I remind myself with, though, is a mantra I kept repeating year after year, every morning, whenever I felt that the world, and my very existence, were inane manifestations of misplaced energy: Sisyphus was happy. He drove that stone up the mountain everyday with a sincere conviction that it might be his last, or a resolute belief in his ability to keep it atop this time round. If not so, then he merely pushed to spite the petulant Gods who belittled and scorned, who had the insolence to summarily judge and punish, but lacked the prudence to empathize, rectify, and make amends.

I pull myself away from the life-sapping screens of my laptop, smart-phone and television set, and immerse myself into the self-absorbing, insignificant travails of the day, bothering myself only with what I think I can influence and change. For the Holy House has a Lord of its own, but I am the Lord of my own herd.

This disengagement with current affairs is not a nonchalant aloofness to the lives lost, to the harsh incarcerations, nor to the walls that are tumbling down in the city that we love. My reclusion is a voluntary act of optimism; a necessary defence against the ensuing chaos, a refusal to wallow endlessly in a valley of despair, and an unwavering audacity in my ability, indeed in every decent person’s ability, to exact certain incremental changes no matter how uncertain the surroundings may be.

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