Suburban Soliloquy



Our home has degenerated into a mess that could be mistaken for the aftermath of a catastrophe, a very localized indoor tornado. Nowhere is there a path wide enough for a vacuum to squeeze through. All surfaces are piled high with things and there are no places left to put another thing down. I am not the cause! By nature I am an obsessively neat and organized person. Even the decorative paraphernalia on my desk is aesthetically arranged and I can usually tell when someone has been in my desk drawer by the slightest shift of its contents. On the other hand, I have an amazing tolerance for dust and mildew.

There are a few who wonder how I have remained with my spouse, Ms Keogh, these many years, given the contrast in this aspect of our characters. She is a hoarder and creator of clutter while my tastes are sparse and orderly. I persist in this relationship because I remain in love. Love has shifted my priorities and caused me to adjust and develop tolerance.

I have tried cleaning, but it is a Sisyphean task. I suppose it always is, but cleaning should be a moderate amount of maintenance with immediate and long lasting reward. It should not be Augean. In my household, I am confronted by hardcore messes, and no sooner have I created a space than it becomes employed for purposes I never intended. Actually, “purpose” is not the right word. Space is filled by the purposeless abandoning of whatever my beloved is trying to instantly dispose of so her hands can be immediately free. Once she has deposited the item, she gives it no further thought, not even to note its placement so as to be able to remember and retrieve it later.

Over the years, the areas I’ve maintained for myself have dwindled. Even now the tide of Ms Keogh’s clutter has flowed into my study and laps the edges of my desk. I want to believe it is at its worst and will go no further. I want to believe that from this moment it can only improve, that the tide will turn. That the house is a mess can sometimes depress me, yet it is never more than a mild depression, the trivial end of the spectrum of depression.

At the heavier end of the spectrum of depression is the pointlessness of existence, the unimaginable insignificance of our being in this impossible cosmos. Knowledge of the heavier end is what helps me to keep a perspective on what is important.

In an existence where nothing ultimately has value, given the half-life of protons and the lack of a belief that I will escape into an afterlife, I place significance on whatever has emotional value to me. The downside of this is I am often haunted by failure. I cannot sleep if that day I did not have any satisfying accomplishments for which I might feel proud.

The irksome angst of not having personally significant achievements in my life, with time growing shorter, me growing older and more impaired, hearing the tap, tap, tap of the reaper’s footsteps coming down the linoleum tiled hall of a convalescent home or hospital, this also keeps me from sleep. When such thoughts grip me, I can become paralyzed with depression. At such times, I must sequester myself in my study, deprive myself of any light and stare at nothing until the vitriolic babbling in my head has been exhausted. Ms Keogh knows to not disturb me. At such times, I am not capable of rational judgment and I am aware of my inability to make good decisions. Nonetheless, in these darkest moments a spark of consciousness knows that nonexistence is not an alternative.

Suicide must occur to any thinking person. It is a fear of death that stifles thoughts of suicide. I place great value on the fear of death as a stimulant. The fear of death is also my window into the psychology of others, for I believe it is the awareness of our mortality that explains why people do the things they do. There are also the ideas we adopt to avoid thinking about death. But even the way we choose to deny death defines us, becomes our philosophy or religion.

I am working at my desk in my study and Ms Keogh, having taken the time to examine what I've written so far, is feeling compelled to straighten my study. She is removing her debris, which she poetically describes as, "panoramic islands of accumulated detritus connected by barrier reefs." Meantime, the writing of these thoughts has me pondering the differences in our philosophies.

All humans carry the baggage of their philosophy, yet even as their baggage provides for them, it also presents itself as an obstacle. For me the philosophy is: If not now, when? So I put things away when I’m through with them, yet I cannot sleep because of feelings that I have not done enough. For Ms Keogh the philosophy is: There is always time later. So she puts things down and not away, yet she has no trouble falling asleep.

While our philosophies are not necessarily compatible, at least I find her colorful and she regards me constantly entertaining as we go teeter-tottering through life. It is a constant pursuit of balance between our differences. And right now, Ms Keogh is creating a space about my desk and I can again see the carpeting. I am gratified that I have completed this essay and that it could serve a purpose.

And so, to bed.

This essay is the most recent in a series of regular reports from the life and times of Mr Bentzman. If you've any
comments or suggestions,
the writer would be pleased to hear from you.
Mr Bentzman's collection of poems, "Atheist Grace" is available from Amazon,
as are "The Short Stories of B.H.Bentzman"