It's not at all annual tradition of mine to write a year reflection. In fact, never before have I written one or considered writing one. But today is different.
This is not a reflection of 2002. This is a reflection of eternity. And of my life, in special.
The New Year was nothing special. I spent most of December 31st programming. As did I today. Earlier this day, a cousin of mine arrived. He is going to stay here for a few days. Not just sleeping over, he lives on the streets with his girlfriend, his parents no longer care, he is on drugs and neglects himself. A regular semi-psychotic homeless fellow. He was here before one time, quite long. A month, maybe two. In that time he did some pretty nasty things to me, most of all he ‘stole’ my best friend and ‘converted’ him to his ways. I was never an out-going person and as my friend started to run along to bars and drink all night, I gradually lost him. I guess it wasn't a good friend after all.
Today, my cousin came up to me and asked if I had some time for him. He wanted to apologize for all he had done. I appreciated it, it doesn't mend what is done, but it shows he cares. He started with the question if I remembered a snowball fight we had here years ago. I did not. But it made me think. When I was still younger, this cousin was one of my best friends. We slept at each other's places, we played together, we got along amazingly well. Something changed along the way. I do not hate him, but the passion of the past is gone. He is a homeless drug addict and I'm an overeducated, underpaid wage slave. Our lives no longer mix. But this little event started a chain of reflectional thoughts…
I don't remember that snowball fight. I don't remember any snowball fight. Though there must have been many. It seems as if the memories of my youth were gradually replaced by the new me.
But this evening, I was walking the dog and came along my old elementary school. I have only recently graduated from high school, so the time I was there is only 6 to 7 years ago. It seems like an eternity. Flashes came running into my mind. I was a small child, enjoying elementary school mostly. I remember bits and pieces of summer party there; the school square was filled with all kinds of water basins. I was 4, maybe 5. I loved water, I loved sun, I loved swimming and I couldn't get enough of it.
Today, I hide from the light in a blinded room; I loath the sun and I have not swam for over 5 years. A sun allergy replaced my love for it. I changed, totally.
We skip a few years ahead. I see myself running over the school square like crazy. I was 10 or 11. A good friend of mine, Sander, was running along. It was time for school camp. Sander was wearing a wicked sombrero and we were going totally nuts. The 3 days of school camp were amazing. I have had contact with Sander for years after, until his mother decided I was evil and we were no longer to be friends. The contact was somewhat restored later on. Now Sander is a manic-depressive person, sitting at home doing nothing. The realization that people, good people, suffer the cruelest fates tastes bitter.
It must have been the first school year again, the ditch in front of my school was frozen solid and all the children were ice-skating. Me too, I loved ice-skating. There has been no ice for over 7 years now. The change of climate makes the winters like autumn and the summers like a tropical forest. Things of the past seam to wither away. They die. In another 10 years, nobody will even know what ice-skating is.
My father helped me stay up straight on the ice. It was my first skating ever. He was a nice man, in my opinion. I laughed a lot. I have skated many years after and had a lot of fun. Later it turned out that even then my father was secretly going to hookers and endangering my mother by not using a condom. It is also sad that some apparently good people turn out to be totally vile and rotten. I can no longer feel love or affection for that man. I have not seen or spoken with him for 3 years and I would like to keep it that way.
Still, once, he was my father. Who helped me skating, took me camping on a farm… That man is no longer there. He ceased to exist.
Camping. Nature, one of my other big hobbies of those times. How I loved the forest and the land. I could spend days on a farm with some other children. Playing hide and seek in the stables and running around the cornfields and nearby forests. Building huts and just enjoying. Now I am bored if I have no computer for 2 days. And the farm we always used to go is a parking lot for a mall. The inevitable destruction of the land that man carries out is disastrous, but nobody can stop it. More parking lots, more malls. Let the children go inside their flat and play with their computers, they no longer know what a forest is. I must admit that I, too, fell for it. I feel ashamed.
I open my eyes; the dog is pulling the cord, wanting to go elsewhere. I take one last good look at my old school. It looks bleak and empty in the dark. How I would love to sit down with all my classmates again and just ask them how they are. What they made of their lives. On the other hand I have a strong feeling that ignorance is probably bliss in this case. I walk on…
Further down the stream of the little ditch stands a giant, ancient oak. In this everlasting autumn, it looks sad, leafless. In summer it is a beautiful giant. I fear it will never again see another summer. Next to the oak was an old farm, no longer inhabited. It was a picturesque part of the scenery. Someone bought the land and tore it all down. A big billboard shows the new purpose; bungalows. A lot of them. Near the road were a bunch of trees standing on a steep slope. It was once an excellent place to play hide and seek or build huts. Now it is gone, flat, bleak. Awaiting new building. Earlier tries to kill the oak have been unsuccessful, but I fear they will once succeed. The oak is in the way, ancient nature has to make place for luxury housing. Beautiful landscapes, which tell stories of ages, are destroyed for man's comfort. I loathe this entire happening; the rest of the little piece of nature has been rudely disturbed. Nothing will ever be the same. People expand and eat away the Earth as a virus consuming the host's resources. Till she dies.
Is this the future I want to present to my children once? A scorched Earth, in ashes and fumes of past civilizations. A shortage of oxygen, maybe the last tree in some museum. I know it will not go that fast, but for the sake of the planet I hope mankind will eradicate itself. A shiver runs through my back, how can I think such a thing? A bigger shiver comes with the realization that it is a sane thought. We are all actively destroying our surroundings every day. We always have and always will. The beautiful places on Earth are low in number and reserved for the rich. This oak, this scenery, was once such a beautiful place for everyone to enjoy. Now it will be an asphalt road with some houses. I no longer want to stay around here. A quick walk gets me on top of the dike.
On the way back over the dike, I pass a house of an old friend of mine. He is no longer a friend. Somewhere, somehow, I did something wrong. We got along great for a long time, we spent weekends at each other's houses and we were real friends. Then one day he told me he thought it time to both go our separate ways. I never got an explanation and it seemed to come just out of the blue.
I stop for a moment and look up to where his room is, or at least was. It's dark inside, it doesn't seem like anybody is home.
His parents still greet me on the streets, he doesn't even look at me. I have no idea where I went wrong, or if it even was my fault. Maybe friendships are just not meant to last. It would fit in nicely with the rest of the world, everything eventually decays, dies and turns to nothing. All is forgotten, nothing has meaning. A scary thought. Maybe our existence on this planet now does not mean anything, maybe there is no eternal echo of our actions. And maybe there is. Either way, it doesn't seem to matter eventually. All is meant to be broken.
I walk on. A few yards further is a flower shop. We always buy our flowers and plants there, little pieces of domesticated nature for in our house. Such a selfish thing to do. When passing, my eye falls on the opposite terrain with a lot of containers. One of them is too stuffed and cannot close anymore. It is filled with flowers, including pot and all. Apparently they were not fresh anymore and had to make place for newer plants. An entire container full of flowers, and who knows how many more. Discarded, no longer in favour of us, superior beings.
It seems like madness, destroy nature to build houses, decorate the houses with domesticated nature and eventually throw that away for burning at some garbage processor. Mankind must have reached its worst point in nature care ever. Maybe it will be even worse, I fear for it even. Only 500 years ago, we were much better at handling nature. And overall much happier, I think. Who knew of stress in those days? And of other welfare-diseases like gluttony and several cancers.
This makes me think of the way everything is divided. While people on the other side of the world are starving to death, we stuff ourselves till we die of it. We have so much food ‘left’ that we compress it to food for cattle, with lots of consequences. We battle so hard to fight diseases that were created by food and welfare, while other people simply die because they lack food. They once may have lived in a beautiful wood, which provided them with all they needed. Now that wood is gone and made into our desks and houses. A daily debate is how to get rid of all the overflows of food, while others have none. We wash ourselves with drinkable water, while others have none. We phone our neighbours with our cell phones to tell that our uncle died of a heart attack, due to gluttony, while the average distance from a person to the closest phone is 15 kilometres. We wear shoes that were made by children, in order to stay alive on the little rice they get.
What the hell are we doing? Who do we think we are?? Yet nobody, not even me, is willing to give it all up for the greater good. And what will it matter? In the big picture; nothing.
I walk on home, unleash the dog. He is happy to be home again, settles in his comfortable basket with a slice of meat. He has no idea of the misery the world is in.