0021 – The Point of Falling Down Escalators

My feet in Lisbon, October 2023

My brother and I looked to our left and a hand and half a bald head were visible at the end of the escalator. A jovial, elderly gentleman was reaching down and helping the rest of the man get to his feet. Most of the action was obscured by the high wall of the escalator but that was the comedy of it. We couldn’t see what was going on and how, if ever this supposed man was getting up. The escalator sure wasn’t stopping as there were people coming down from the top. We just knew there was something happening down there. I think it’s what you don’t see which is funny, like someone rearranging their underwear. 

Two women were singing a song in fairly good pitch and in time as they came down the escalator. We watched them enjoy themselves wondering whether they would ever hit the two clowns at the bottom. Suddenly a man in front of them starts yelling and saying things so fast his mouth can’t keep up while making thirty seven separate hand gestures as if he was mimic four Italian men at the same time arguing at a traffic stop. It was like a movie, the person in front of us said. No, better than a movie! 

So much can happen in just three seconds and so little can happen in three years! Or in my case, one year. I was in London for one year and I couldn’t tell you what happened. I felt lost, alone and very desperate. I used to walk the streets at night wondering what I would do with my life. How to move it forward. I felt demotivated and lost. I had a goal during those times and it was to move to Norway. The shame was that I was so hellbent on it that I didn’t really make room to have fun. I felt it was a life and death scenario and I would do anything, squeeze any margin to avoid death.

That simplistic thinking was easier in a way. It allows the dictator in me to override everything. No rations of butter, we’re in the blitz. Catastrophes make choices easy but that’s a fake way to live, I think. You’re allowed to have fun. You’re allowed to have rest. If you make it to the finish line and you died was it even worth it? I arrived to Tromsø with all my savings put in that lottery ticket. There was so much I could have gotten out of London and I didn’t because I didn’t feel like I deserved to. It was a shame.

I’m lucky that I get second chances, or even third chances with things. There’s one thing I’m learning from people around me these days and it’s how to chill out. Naturally the fun thing is to put ourselves in high intensity situations but it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves when we put down our tools. We need to make it there in one piece, you know. 

Women wonder why men think about the roman empire so much. I can’t speak for all men but I like to think of the Roman generals taking pen to paper after a long day at the battlefield and writing down a journal of what happened. Imagine that, you’ve seen men die, many scores of men and who knows what the morning will bring. People take the time to sit and write. I find that absurd. It makes sense but it’s still absurd. 

There’s a feeling like the world is crumbling around us, that everything is kind of fucked. That there’s nothing really to aim for because all of it is rigged. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t but I think there’s a lot of beauty in making art in spite of it or regardless of it. Art can come in so many forms, it’s just expression. There’s a kurtzgesagt youtube video about the cave paintings. Their point was that even in the most dire of times where humans didn’t live for very long and the saber tooth tigers were aplenty and the snow was piling up, we still made time for art. 

That is the essence of humanity, I think: expression. To express ourselves in making music, writing (anything), putting colors on surfaces, singing, gardening, traveling and seeing things, making necessarily unnecessarily good food, telling jokes. None of this moves the machines but it is reason why the machines move. 

I think of that man tumbling down the escalator and his friend bending down to pick him up. It’s a Friday night and maybe Saturday brings it’s own problems but for now, for tonight let’s tumble down the escalator and sing our silly songs and maybe make that guy super upset because why not. Because the day is done and the fields have been harvested and the night has fallen and we need to mark the world with a smile and a laugh. The faintest mark that is carried by a breath and leaves a trace in nowhere except our minds. 

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