Three years ago I made a deal with non-existent God beginning January 1st, 2015: “Please, God, guarantee me three years of life and I will use every single moment of them.” I would not have a single idle hour, but instead I would get on with writing my book, making some money, giving someone love, and such things that life should be dedicated to.
I didn’t do it. I spent my spare time lying around and reading about ephemeral sports articles on the internet, same as the first 33 years. I became a tour guide, went to live in Bolivia with my love but blew it, came home, and now I have no money and ‘have to’ go back to being a tour guide to clear debts.
I like the mini-relationships and conversations that I form on that job, although when the tourists leave at day’s end without any acknowledgement or backward glances like the tiger in Life of Pi it always breaks my heart, every time. But I worry that, driving through the dark at 100 km/h speeds over several fatiguing hours, I will one day drive off the road or fall asleep at the wheel and the job will cost me my life.
That’s being melodramatic, as I know people who have done that job for 10 years; 40 years. But I am not a robot. I am a guy with a bad knee controlling a vehicle hurtling through space threading a tiny tarmac ribbon. This job statistically puts me in greater peril than showing up to an office. Beyond this, by repeating the old stuff I am wasting my days.
Back to my pact with ‘God’. Does ‘he’ still guarantee me these last six months, even though I did not hold my end of the bargain? Or is the contract rescinded, do I not have divine protection anymore? All I know is that, though I’m an agnostic/atheist these days and the treaty is sort of a joke I share flippantly, I can’t risk still doing this go-nowhere job after December 31st, 2017, because there are no longer guarantees I won’t die.
In Bolivia I had a psychologist, Khuska. As a linguistic experience, seeing a psychologist in Spanish is up there near the top with living with the goddess, sharing her day-to-day things, mixing Spanish with English.
I told her about the three-year deal and she asked me if I was afraid of dying. I thought about it and answered: “Tengo miedo de morir sin cumplir mi misión.” I’m afraid of dying without fulfilling my mission.
What will you say afterward when they ask you why you didn’t? she asked. There’s not much you can say if you fail, if you didn’t try. Life is not exactly a voyage of discovery and opportunity, whatever they promise us as kids. It was even less so in Bolivia. Life, real life, modern life, is more like a tunnel of repetitive and depressive mood and habit and once the routine (including emotional routine) and the parameters of that tunnel or filter are set, it is very hard to break the mould and focus more on doing what we should be doing. I’m already caught in Australia, but here there is ability to set things right, and I will do it. In Bolivia you are trapped in your routine of merely surviving, forever, of dealing with one million tiny, self-inflicted problems every day.
Get cracking, I hear Khuska’s implied suggestion.
Before, in mood it didn’t matter so much if I died, my life and emotions were going nowhere. But I got off a train here in Melbourne again yesterday and realised: Please let me live, let me give love and understanding and laughter to people who need it. I know I wasted our deal, but please give me some more decades to use.