At some point in our life, we come to accept the fact we are closer to death than life. What lies ahead is definitely less significant than what is left behind. These are the twilight years, and I have come to accept them. With darkness descending over the horizons, and the long shadows of misspent years and evaded human conditions slithering all around me, I peer into the void, into an eternity of silence and dreamlessness. Dit is almost time.
I know the opening paragraph sounded scary and melodramatic. Moenie bekommerd wees nie, I am writing this post mainly because that flowery sentence about dark horizons and slithering shadows just occurred to me as a weak translation of an old song, and I wanted to put it down. And I had to create a context for it. But the very fact that thoughts of this sort occur to me might be of some concern to some of my friends and family. And in that, I cannot really help. Honesty prevents me from hiding these thoughts, although what is prompting me to share them with the whole world is an open question. Need for attention, mag wees?
Over the last few years, I have noticed this strange feeling of unrealness growing within me. It is like the events and and actions of people around me do not really touch me. Like there is a layer or buffer of some sort between all that is external and what can percolate to me, dampening its effect on me. It reminds me of something. At some point during my research career, I read up on a neurological condition called Cotard Syndrome, which precipitates a sense of disconnect from reality. I wonder if this buffer of mine is something of that sort. But more likely, it is probably a part of growing old.
Some people tell me that I am way too young to be thinking these thoughts. May be so, but I have always been a bit precocious. At the age of twelve or so, I tried to read up my dad’s books called “Basiese Radio” (six volumes), and some undergraduate level physics books on the discovery of electrons and nuclear fission. Seker, I didn’t understand much, but that never stopped me. I was brilliant in all things academic, but such gifts have a downside as well. What do they say about candles that burn bright? They burn fast too.
Some of my musings are similar to Meursault’s rant (all right, it is more polite to call it a soliloquy) in the Stranger (L’Etranger). Since I want to show off my sophistication, I am going to link to the French version hier. But the English version also is widely available.
Meursault says that nothing, nothing mattered, and he knew why. Perhaps I am also beginning to learn why nothing ever matters. Brilliant flashes and slithering shadows don’t matter beyond dark horizons. Dreams don’t matter when dissolved in dreamlessness. Time doesn’t matter in the stillness of eternity. Makes no sense to you? Goeie. You are lucky. Or young. Or both!