A spattering of spartan, concrete structures emerged from amidst the forest along the rugged coastline in disparate clusters of 20th century modernity. The great ragged trees whipped around in the howling wind from the sea far below as the rustle of leaves in the Eucalyptus grove became a whistling roar. Energy was everywhere as thunderheads roiled overhead and white-caps beat ever onwards against the craggy shore. Though sturdy enough to keep out the gale, the woodland edifices were sterile and cold but for mortal interference. Twin fighter jets screeched overhead at an alarming speed and yet not a soul looked up to greet the screaming symbols of a bygone era.
The cold seemed to disregard whatever layers of clothing the masses saw fit and chilled them nigh to the bones from the moment their bundled bodies left the comfort of the warmth inside for ends beyond the threshold. There was steaming tea and coffee everywhere to be had and yet, still compatriots looked at each other with cold detachment. A gathering of likeminded persons of common purpose might pass the entirety of half an hour confined in line beside a potentially compatible companion quietly watching the minutes tick away at the top of their screen. Unaccustomed to the energy of meteorological events, there was a certain novelty in passage through it. Certainly, though, the fledgling cold soon registered with even the most easily excitable among them and thus the requisite treks to and fro soon became arduous.
Arduous, that is, for those who don’t care to perceive what goes on around them beyond trifling pleasantries and idyll chatter. Fickle creatures by nature, the spawn of suburban excess and urban charity made their way about their collegiate maze day in and day out more perceptive, naturally, to insignificant downward ticks of the thermometer than to the iron curtain of austerity being rendered around them: the belated consequence of the faults of their parents. Ever vigilant, ever innovative, the vast array of youth morphed and adapted under a pressure they should have never had to bear. Some worked tirelessly in a perhaps futile attempt to orient themselves towards whatever remaining niche looked promising, others sought to steer a course that would maximize the outside funding of their educational experiment, some looked beyond their studies in the pursuit of hedonistic pleasures as they squandered away their $30,000 investment in futility, and still others played the game and laughed at the other players at the same time because they took the time to perceive the rules.
Full of hope and yet weighed down by unconscious despair edging on conscious frustration, some sought to make the best of what they were given and do the best that they could. The trouble is that not everyone understood what the goal was or if there even was one and if they did it was probably a goal that was prescribed to them. There is a certain providence in the fall of a dream, in the descent of children to the cynicism of adulthood, to the beautiful pitfalls they encounter along the way and the warnings that generation after generation ignores in tandem. Life is at once a fantastic endeavor of sensation and numbness, interaction and withdrawal, delight and depression, fulfillment, and regret, innocence and guilt, action and reaction. Those with the biggest dreams are the hardest to please and those with the biggest hearts are the easiest to hurt but those without only envy their feeling. Repression runs rampant and children never stop playing pretend. Distraction is everywhere and the possibilities are endless except for the universal restriction of choice. People in motion seek out new ends or cling to the old and live out their lives in coming and goings only to remember the times when they stayed or maybe they should have. Destinations unknown hold the ultimate sway as readiness is all.
The postmodern children of the new millennium can see the meaningless crusades of the 20th century for what they were. They can see the institutions without the veil of nationalism or the convenient scapegoat of communism, they dare to challenge the orthodoxy of the great warring faiths in their political expediency, they can almost perceive the puppeteers pulling the strings because for them combine long ago lost all credibility and trust and yet, even as they watch the system flounder they cling to the paths laid out for them even as they witness how unsubstantiated the claims of their own indoctrination might have been. The cracks of the combine are evident but it is easier to follow the shepherds on paths well worn by the sheep that came before than to stand apart from the flock and face the inevitable responsibility to act in opposition to an apathetic world of excess and scarcity.
Do you ever wonder what the places where you live out your life today were like in another time? What the sad old buildings of a bygone era were like in their prime? Have you ever considered all the feet that have trod the ground you tread before you? Or the music that echoed through the same halls before you were born? You might be lost –I might be lost—but what’s to say that those who meandered their way through the same pathways and were late to the same lectures before me weren’t just as lost in their own time? The faces come and go, across generations and in and out of a meaningful role in my life, but the story is the same. There are those, that were, those that are, and those that will be and every one of them had to, has to, or will have to deal with the same shit. Every single person must learn to navigate through the haze of indoctrination and deception to emerge above it or learn to resign themselves to their air of blissful ignorance—whether real or manufactured— paint on a smile and pretend to be happy.