I was once a somewhat naive youth who saw a clear horizon ahead. I had no care in this world and felt pity for those who seemed miserable, my favourite examples being kids my age who hawked in motor traffic. They would peer into the car and I’d look them in the eye and communicate my sympathy. I sucked on the silver spoon and woke up every day with a gush of energy from the blue blood that ran through my veins.
Life is not bad now. I have not fallen into a gruesome tragedy; however, I am not a primary school pupil anymore. Clean, white socks and a well-pressed uniform would no longer suffice. The days when I stepped out of the car in front of the prestigious gates of my prestigious primary school have long ended. I remember the minders who lined the gates and rushed to help with my school bag and lunch box. They held the car door open and said sweet words: ‘How was your night honey? Welcome to School’
Neither does my membership of the ‘excellent students’ clique’ back in secondary school count for much now. I was one of those students the principal swore would attain great heights in public service and industry. ‘Leaders of tomorrow’ was her favourite, however cliché, expression. She would make such remarks partly in mockery of the defiant students. The ones who refused to stop sagging their pants. ‘While some of you are calling passengers at some motor park, you will see these ones shining in the Newspapers, making good news.’ At such moments, I stared at my expensive shoes in modesty.
University means little as well. The degree promised to mean a lot but that was a blatant lie. To be brutally honest, it means very little when compared to the sense of meaning, of direction, and of relevance that I have become accustomed to seeking. Their continuous elusion has left me depressed. And this is the interesting point.
Depression is a term that conjures images of very sad people, probably suicidal, fighting demons that are overpowering them, with unkempt hair and carelessly worn clothes, introverted to a point of muteness, unpleasant to be around. But this is not always true. The depression I romance with was a simple state of inactivity. Such that, the things in which I previously took deep interest and wanted my life to be about hid from view or my vision was impaired and I could no longer see them. So I awoke in the morning and shut my eyes at night with no sense of longing for what took place in between or the possibilities of the next day. I just did nothing.
There are many causal factors, but that is the business of another write up, perhaps a much longer one. Inactivity is a dangerous thing for many reasons, least of which is not the fact that it is a characteristic of the dead. It fuels further depression. I would look back at a constellation of days and weeks and be unable to identify a tangible achievement, may be not an achievement now but something to feel worthwhile about. This is horrifying. I came to know misery and the silver spoon could do nothing. The blue blood must have turned red. Day after day, I did nothing and day after day I was depressed. I was inactive.
On one of my sorry days, it occurred to me: ‘This is war! Life is warfare. My life has to mean something.’ I clenched my fist and punched depression in the face. Before it could regain balance, I landed a blow below its belt. It landed on the floor with a thud. ‘Damn you! Inactivity! My life has got to mean something!’
Just then, something grabbed me from behind. I perceived its aura; it was the past – inactivity’s buddy. It began to suppress me with primary school happy memories and university victories. I struck it in the belly with my elbow. It fell without a fight.
‘You are in the past! Gone and forgotten! My life has got to mean something now, today! Go back to yesterday where you belong!’
Then I looked up at the present. It had been there all the while. I walked up to it and the resulting embrace was warm. We held hands and ran into the sun where the future was; active and alive.