Writing as catharsis

The joyless and the defeated

Posted in Prose, Ranting and rambling by Lachlan R. Dale on April 21, 2013
By Ralph Steadman

By Ralph Steadman

I can comfortably conceive of my life as battle against The Joyless. I see them in droves; faces bloated, posture weak and hanging, constantly braying and complaining. They formulate the view that life is just one continuous plot against them; they believe they are denied what is rightfully theirs, but, lacking the energy and power to change their paths, they resign themselves to wallowing in despair.

They are The Defeated; humans who sing a warbling eulogy to their lives at every waking moment; their eyes glazed and hollow, colour and light drawn from them. These beings drain the lives of those around them. They stumble around without direction, a vacant look on their faces. Show them images from the birth of a star; the most beautiful galaxies in the universe and they would merely shrug their shoulders and resume shovelling greasy food into their faces.

They are the grazers; a mass of misery who are bent on inflicting their state on others through their social discourse. They are trapped in the well-worn lines of their thought; unthinkable they ever might displace their point of view with empathy of understanding – even momentarily. They can only dwell in their own apathetic sense of dissatisfaction, lacking the awareness to resolve the issues from which these feelings stem.

Given enough time their misery becomes all they know; their sadness becomes so banal, so commonplace that it begins to bore and sicken them – yet still they cannot escape! These are the people who pray for disaster; for car crashes; for tsunamis; for a demonstration of nature’s raw power; for war – if for nothing more than entertainment and as some absurd justification for their own melancholy mood.

I would give anything to ensure that I do not end up a passionless husk of a human secretly hoping for death but lacking the courage or conviction to end things. I see them in shopping centres and airports and pubs; these bloated and swollen men, looking hopefully and dejectedly about for someone to talk at. They want you to listen as they recall their past glories, then pull you down into their misery as they explain their fall from grace. They want you down in the gutter with them; to comprehend the sneers and conspiracies set against them. They had no choice; they surely could not have lived any other way. They are victims of circumstance; the game was rigged from the outset; they were played a bad hand.

My deepest sadness would be to become one of them; lonely, sad, deflated, completely dehydrated of any passion for life. I refuse to become one of them. My secret fear propels my onward to embrace life and love; to poetry and music; to friends and family. I pack my life to the brim in a ravenous search for meaning and contentment. Even if this state is ultimately unattainable and this search becomes the steady undercurrent of my time on this earth, then I feel those years will certainly not be wasted — but to resign yourself, to give in, to too soon anticipate a return to dust? That is surely the deepest loss for one still living.

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