Thursday, August 04, 2005


I shouldn't be here. I should be back at home, in Canada, in a shack, writing books. Or no. Better yet. I should be in Canada, in a shack, writing books, while working to solve the world's problems with a super-secret, super-talented group of young, idealistic go-getters. That way I can create my own imaginary worlds and still participate in what we like to call the real world. Or wait. Scratch that. We all know that life is short and, death, as the saying goes, is so damn long, so it then makes much more sense to live life, enjoy life, conquer life. Better to be a surfer riding the waves off of some secluded beach in Hawaii. Open air always. Blue skies constantly. The sound of the tide and the rise of the moon. Nightly. Sweet. But still. Even hedonism has its limit. Better to be a monk. Alone. Grouped, yes, but alone. Contemplating contemplative stuff. Learning ancient, arcane languages. Chanting whatever it is that monks chant. Recognizing that life is an illusion, attachment a curse, detachment the key. Oh, but wait. Stillness breeds contempt, for oneself and for others. A nomad's life is the life for me. Wandering distant lands, living with the locals for a limited span of time, no more than a week, a month at most. Just long enough to grasp who they are and what what they want. Then I move. To the next country, the next province, the next town. It's just, nomads get tired, moving so much. Better to veg, come to think of it. I'll go back to my hometown, buy a hardware store, invest in stocks. Chill out on the weekends. Crash out in front of the tube. Get one of them plasma TVs everybody's talking about. Learn the rules of football, pick a favorite team, both NFL and CFL, because people tell me Canadian football's better. Call in to work every hour or so, not to nag, just to check things out. Bone up on hardware knowledge. Get a drill to drill stuff with. But, I don't know. What I'd drill, I mean. You can only drill so much, and besides, the store stays still. You have to be there, doing store stuff. There's no mobility. So a salesman's life would be ideal, come to think of it. Like a nomad, only plusher. I've always liked hotels. Beds freshly made, maids freshly bed. A mint on the pillow. Shampoo in the shower. Different cities, different rooms. The thing is, though. Continuity would be absent. All those room keys. All those swimming pools. The water would be nice, but water can be found almost anywhere. Better to seek out a stream, bordering rocks, overlooking a valley. I would have a place to sit and a place to swim and a place to, I don't know, graze. And yet. Nothing to read. I could compose a book in my head, word by word, line by line, and leave it for me and me alone to read and write. Not a confederacy of dunces, no, but at least a dictatorship, with myself as the only subject. I could read and write my way into myself. Lacking pen or paper, screen or keyboard, the going would get tough, but you know what they say in those circumstances. The tough get golden. The arches, I mean. I'd miss cilivization and food. Working at McDonald's would not be all that bad, all things considered. Discounts on the Big Macs. Free newspapers to read. A chocolate sundae now and then. I could get into that. A sleeping bag, of course. Easy to slip in to, they are. As long as it's long and soft, I could slip inside, at night, under the stars. Forget the franchise. Just me and the almighty, up above. Nobody to bother me. Maybe the occasional car or truck. Perhaps the odd cottage or shack in the distance. I'd be able to hear music coming from that shack, soft and melodic, and the smell of freshly baked cookies would drift through the night air, keeping me up. In the attic, I mean. There'd be enough space up there. Surrounded by boxes and books. Insulated in the way that attics are. Until, that is, I hear that voice calling me from down in the kitchen, the ageless, official one that says: "You shouldn't be here." To which I'd answer, with something approaching an epiphany, lowercase: "Hey, buddy, whether I should be here or not is irrelevant, because here is where I'm at. End of story."


Anonymous said...

I sensed you feel the need to defend your existence in Cambodia.
I think you were bothered by the comments below. You know? The one that said you should be back in Canada and get a book out pronto?
Another 'art for art's sake' dilemma? The horror! The horror!

Scott said...

Hmmmm. I don't know. Maybe subconsciously I felt that, but to a certain extent I think everybody over here is always 'defend[ing] their existence over here', because it's so far from where we're from, and we don't fit in, and everyday life is so bizarre. And I think that no matter who we are, whereever we are, we always wonder about what we're doing: Is it the right thing?

Anonymous said...

Yep, hell I wonder about going to work everyday is the right thing.
But, I still gotta go.
It's normal. Right?