“Come on! Not again this shit!” Such a cliché, but so true: It was Monday at 8:45 am and again I was having trouble waking up. I had nothing in particular against Mondays, but it was always harder to get up and not for some made-up psychological reason, such as the Monday blues, but simply because my circadian clock was completely deconfigured. True, it was also a customarily bleak Polish autumn Monday and I had celebrated All Saints’ Day passing out on my couch on a Friday early morning. To recover from the mild delirium tremens and general apathy to life, I’d spent the following three days playing video games, with intervals of physical sports and cooking. In the heat of the game, I’d spent a white night, and I still hadn’t recovered sleep. Even worse, the previous night I’d watched two films in a row till half past three. Basically speaking, I constantly boycotted my willpower. “But what is freedom?” I asked myself, “To text my boss that I won’t be going to work today or to get up, despite myself, and go and sit in front of a computer for eight hours?” The sitting in front of a computer part didn’t bother me at all; after all I am a city dweller, a mouse accustomed to Gouda cheese, so I really enjoy sedentarism. Were I to stay at home, I’d sit or lay in front of my computer the whole day anyway. What bothered me was getting out of the stupor I was in. It was like asking a drunk person to just snap out of it. I needed time, not willpower. The most indolent man with a lot of time accomplishes more than the most zealous man with little time on his hands. Slow and steady is my motto. “Or is it freedom to get up and do what I’m supposed to do, to be what I’m supposed to be, and to stop this state of non being, this avoidance of responsibility and, therefore, life? Because what’s freedom without responsibility, but just a fancy make-believe word? Where is the fun in the game if we can just cheat our way to victory?” I remember those video game hacks that are available to people who get bored of playing the same old game or to those who’re looking for an easy win. I remember it was fun using them, but they defeated the purpose of the game. The more I gave in to the instant pleasure of cheating, the sicker I got of the game.
I was feeling in a good mood that morning, as usual, and despite my lack of sleep. On my way up to the offices, someone entered the lift after me and said the unconventional: Dzień dobry. I replied with a low: Dzień dobry. He left the lift before me, and this time he uttered the more conventional: Do widzenia, with which Poles show their mastery of the art of superfluous politeness. I answered with an even lower: Do widzenia, because I didn’t want to be caught in the trap of being impolite to someone for no reason other than their being a waste of carbon, air and cosmic space. But I was only human, so I realized that the Do widzenia of the man had been lower, way less enthusiastic than his Dzień dobry. I felt sorry for the easy deterioration of the Polish social fabric and guilt started to pervade me. “Why not just go along with them?” I thought. “Everyone has their social customs. Some cultures are upsettingly direct and offensive, such as the Argentinean one, and some are annoyingly polite and distant, such as the Polish one. Pity I wasn’t sociable, but I did care about society.
So, there I was, sitting at my work desk, typing a new novel on my wide screen: Or would it be just another one of my truncated literary adventures that ended up in a short story? If at least I could write a novella this time… My first novel had been full of justification; I had no excuse to write but my eagerness, and I still was building the arrogance necessary to every real artist. But now my arrogance was consolidated, and my patience was too short to waste time on justifications. I simply wrote, and let it be what it had to be: Belles-lettres, a diary, a message in a bottle thrown into a sea of indifference, pop-culture, I couldn’t care less. The only thing I knew for sure was that I was, and therefore my work also was, and it had no reason not to be. I wouldn’t dare ask a tiger to become vegetarian, so why would I futilely try to stop being myself? By now in my life it was clear that I had no other ambition than writing. Other interests had faded, and it only remained, adamant in its place, literature. And I’m not one of those conservatives resilient to change. I would’ve betrayed literature, stabbed her in the back and leave her for dead, if necessary to my happiness. But my only solace was literature. I lived on the side too; I wanted economic independence and a family as everyone else, but living was an automatic activity I couldn’t switch off and back on whenever I wanted. Literature, on the other hand, was my free choice, my key to the beyond.
And I was into life. I was conscientiously living, taking life by its reins. Friday had been a party organized at my house. It had had only one purpose: To meet a girl, the girl. Other details, though fun, were irrelevant. I came to realize, however, that at a ratio of a party per month I might find my dear half in a century, if the stars didn’t confabulate in my favor. I couldn’t beat the odds by myself; I needed all the help that I could get. That’s why I was good to good people: Because an instinct of reciprocity and faith in merits compelled me, as everyone else, to act beyond what I could see and expect, to expect the hand of God to usher a girl into my pious life.
I could boast of the fact that, up until now, my life had been uneventful. Literally, “no one had died” on me yet. My grandparents had passed away, but that seemed just natural to me. Their extinction was a pity, such as the wilting of a beautiful flower, but it hadn’t affected my life. I went on, yearning for life experiences, even in the face of certain death. The problem with events is that they stop being eventful after a while. In honor of the truth, I hadn’t had a boring life till now, and I could’ve already filled a thousand juicy pages of autobiographical content, but still, for cosmic purposes, my life had been uneventful.
My father was a lawyer, and he’d managed to make this detail go always unnoticed. I would always wonder, whenever I saw a movie about a murder case or some cheeky lawyer, whether that kind of circus only happened in the United States or whether, maybe, my father had ever been through that or had ever dreamed of been through that. But no one really dreams of success in Argentina, at least not in Hollywood terms. My father had been very successful in the fact that he’d finished his studies and gotten a job at his profession, which is a luxury that most of graduates can’t afford in this country. He’d also built a family and seen them grow into potential families. But that was it, now the baton was in my hands. I’d finished some studies and gotten a job, but still hadn’t gotten a firm hold of life. It seemed to be passing by too uneventfully. On the one hand, I couldn’t complain: I’d never needed to worry about money, safety or health, but on the other hand, lately my days just passed by with no other purpose than to contemplate and wait, but wait for what?