When I was fifteen I joined the Life is Too Absurd to Give a Fuck gang. Because we didn’t like most things, including each other, we spent all our time having group sulk sessions, or if we couldn’t be bothered to meet (and mostly we couldn’t), solo sulk sessions. We didn’t subscribe to any known teenage aesthetic, dressing at all times in contrary clothes: one in leathers, me in cardies, another in black t-shirts. Our very contrariness became in itself an aesthetic: to always contradict one another regardless of logic to underline the inherent absurdity in all human speech and endeavour.
This worked for a while until it slipped (very swiftly) into teenage depression. Many years listening to Radiohead soon followed, and I joined the Life May be Absurd But I Need to Give a Fuck Soon or Things Won’t Ever Change gang. That was a fun period, gazing out of trains having thoughts like ‘does my life matter?’ and ‘what contribution do I have to make to anything?’ and other life-affirming gems. Thank God that passed.
Later I signed up to the Still Don’t Care But I Can Fake it Like a Good Whore team. Everyone was pretending. Everyone hid the existential dread inside themselves and filled it with food. The not-knowingness of all things, knowing only not-knowing, and not even knowing that. I took solace in writing absurd stories shot through with humour. I had to map out neutral territories in my head: what to care about, what to be seen to care about, what to pretend to care about to endear myself to others. I still found it hard to care about absolutely anything but I acknowledged I had the capacity to do so.
So then I joined the I Care About Writing That’s Something So Let’s Focus on That and See What Happens group. Best group I’ve ever been in! Honestly, caring about something is such a pleasure. Such focus, such discipline, such drive! Who needs friends when you have imaginary friends wrapped in words who do what you want at the tip-tap of a keyboard? Being someone who cared about writing gave me a belated sense of belonging. But sadly, it came too late, two years into my undergraduate degree when I’d already made a pudding of everything.
But at least it came. These days I care too much about things. Frankly, I’m nostalgic for the days when I could ignore things as a pointless protest. Now I get sucked into every beached whale, bus crash, zinc poisoning and massive stroke. It’s exhausting being a human being with a heart who cares too much about the unpleasant codswallop that befalls everyone every couple of days. For now, I’ll try to swallow my own codswallop and deal with that. Open up, here comes the codswallop.