Living in the dark

 

When first we meet Chris Kelley, it's clear that our narrator has just had another encounter with one of life's weirdnesses...



It's not an easy world to live in. Right now I'm sitting on my bed, in an empty house in a back suburb of the city. It's a warm, quiet day outside; but inside my head it's anything but quiet...

I'm confused, lonely, angry, disoriented, depressed - a welter of interweaving thoughts and emotions that just will not stop. Where am I? What am I doing here? I've just moved to another city to be with and work with my partner - only to be told I'm not wanted now as partner in either sense. Won't talk about it; there's nothing to say, I'm told. So everything's stopped: everything we worked on together for so long. That's months of planning out of the window - quite apart from what I feel about it...

Who am I? I don't think I know any more. Chris? That's just a label I've been given - a label for a life of chaos, it seems... I don't know. I don't think I know anything any more...

Why am I here? What am I here for? Why does this keep happening in my life? Why do I have to keep putting myself through all this stuff?

All right. So I'm here. So now I have to start all over again. Again. Alone. Again. I've only just moved here - I hardly know anyone. No work: the local economy is a shambles, job vacancies have dwindled almost to nothing, prices and taxes are on the way up again; and now the government, in a sad attempt to distract itself from the troubles at home, has entangled us in yet another war a few thousand miles away. And I've just come back from a walk by the river, looking at the trees festooned with plastic shopping bags, and the signs warning people that it's too polluted to swim in...

We're 'living in the light', says a book beside me. Living in the light? Living in the dark, more like...

How on earth did I get myself into this mess? It's crazy... weird... More to the point, how on earth do I get myself out of it? Whatever I do, it just seems to get worse: one obstacle after another after another. Doesn't anything work any more? What's wrong with my life? What's wrong with me? What's wrong with everyone else? Round and round go the thoughts, chasing each others' tails... round and round and round...

"There's a whole in my bucket..."


Whatever we do, it seems, nothing works out the way we want: there's always something that's wrong, something that ruins it. Everything depends on everything else being right: and only when everything's perfect will anything work out. That's the way it goes, isn't it? If only I had the right partner... the right job... or more money, always more money... everything might work then. Or if only we had a sane government... if only the unions weren't so stupid... if only the multinationals could see what they're doing... Or if only I could lose some weight... if only I could do something about my hair... If only... if only...

A familiar feeling?

"There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza... there's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, a hole..."

And the only reply we get is "Well fix it dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry... Well fix it, dear Henry, dear Henry fix it..."

Very helpful. If I knew how to fix it, I wouldn't be asking...

What can we do about it? Where on earth do we start, with all this chaotic mess? We can try to hide from it for a while: but every time we look up, it's still there. It seems obvious that everything has to be fixed before anything can be fixed: the economy, the environment, the insane politics, the even crazier militarism - let alone our personal relationships, or lack of them... The old standard solutions - the authoritarian church, or authoritarian leaders - just don't seem to work any more: which is probably a good thing, in its way. But how do we get back to some kind of control? - to take back the control over our lives?

It's at this point that we start looking for someone to blame: usually someone else, like the unions, the government, or men, or women, or God, or the Devil - whatever. Or we blame ourselves: perhaps too often, sometimes perhaps not enough. It still doesn't do anything: we can blame all we like, yet the mess is still there, and still growing all the time...

But another way is to look again at the song that describes this circular trap, the one that's driving us crazy, and make a small but significant change:

"There's a whole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza; there's a whole in my bucket, dear Liza, a whole..."

And as we learn to change the hole into a whole, watch the changes that echo in the world we see around us...