With every passing second, we grow further from our birth and closer to our demise. There’s an upbeat thought for you. From the age we are first able to create memories, we are building a tail – a tail of tales, if you will – that stretches out behind us, longer and longer with every event, presenting us with our past. Our present is fleeting, transient. Our past is set in stone, immovable.
In such meandering is how I introduce you to a particular form of depression. Probably not a very unique form… A kind of nostalgia-fueled sadness. The realisation of the fact that we can never recreate our youth, never relive those moments, never recapture the feelings, never right the wrongs. That realisation weighs heavily on me.
My dreams are of old houses in which my family used to reside, of old flames and old friends, and – most poignantly of all – my late father, departed over 10 years ago now. When I listen to music, I imagine myself performing the songs in front of my secondary school year – yeah, that woulda shown ’em I was cool! – but only if the records had been released in subsequent years. After all, gotta keep it realistic; so that, if time travel became available tomorrow, I could shoot back to the year 2000 and pretend that, oh I dunno, Srxt by Bloc Party was in fact written by yours truly. So afterwards when all my fellow teens clustered round and were like, “Did you write that awesome song?” I’d be all like, “Totally.”
What was I talking about? Oh right, yeah.
While this looking back has been with me for a long time, the most overpowering feeling of this nostalgia-depression was triggered by a recent reunion with mates from university. That a decade has flown by since we hung out in front of our alma mater, with subsequent weddings and whatnot, really hit home like a hammer blow.
I know, I know… “Time passes, get over it. You’re only 33, you loser!”
The speed at which so much time has zipped by is just alarming though. My teens were only, what, 7 years, but it seemed to pass much slower than the last 15. I didn’t even have half the experiences in school that most people had – which is, by the way, a fairly obvious contributing factor to the evident resentment I feel at not having made the most of my youth – but even so, I felt that I actually *lived* those years. Even though I’m with someone I love and have been for almost 6 years, it feels like the last decade has breezed by without me doing anything of note.
Just in case you hadn’t grasped it already, I’m writing this completely stream-of-consciousness. So if it seems waffly, rambling, incoherent and self-indulgent…well, that’s because it is. Sorry ’bout that.
Sometimes I realise that a memory of something that feels like it was just yesterday actually happened 13 years ago, and I want to cry or throw up. Sometimes I just want time to stop so that I can get my bearings or get back on track (whatever that means). Sometimes I just want to scream, “WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED?!” because, honestly, I feel like there’s a secret to living or some instruction manual that everyone else got and I’m totally lost.
Then there’s the regrets; I wish that I could have properly enjoyed myself in college, or had applied myself more, or worried less, or been able to get involved more with people/clubs/events/sports. That we can’t go back is one of the most basic things there is – so why does it cause sadness? Why is it so hard, seemingly to accept?
All the people that came into my life who I will never see again. All the nights hanging out, smoking and drinking and laughing, that I’ll never have again. All the dates that I had, or didn’t get to have, or had but didn’t go to plan, that I wish I could do over. All the mornings and afternoons and evenings at the Wall in UCD, chatting and smoking with the best people in the world…all just fragments of time.
I feel like I’m not expressing myself properly and, you know, that makes me saddest of all. I’m crying right now as I write this, that’s how sad it makes me. I lack the words or the sense to convey just how much regret and anger and disappointment and shame and self-hatred I have, just because time passed… I know, I know – I’m mentally ill, what else is new?
The weird thing is, I’ve loved the last 5 or 6 years; lost my virginity, got properly medicated, met the woman I want to marry, moved to the best city in the world, am living a life that I consider to be ideal. I guess it’s just some kind of weird, early midlife crisis or something, a desire to experience a specific period in time – from 13 years old to 25, say – even if the first time around wasn’t even that great. Maybe because the first time around wasn’t even that great.
Maybe ‘purpose’ is the word. Even though I hated getting up for school, my life had purpose. Even though I hated the essays and exams in university, my life had purpose. Even though I was perpetually single and sexless, desperately casting my rod (oo-er missus) around to see what’d bite, my life had purpose. Now I’m comfortable, and…what is the point of me, exactly?
I hate birthdays, and Christmases, and New Year’s, because they force you to reflect on where you are in life, and how many of those events you’ve experienced – a number that only ever goes up. These milestones have, for the better part of my existence, served to make me loath myself; for not accomplishing more, for not being in contact with loved ones enough, for not being a better person.
Fuck, I’m such a moany bastard.
I think I’ll add to this, and smooth it out, any time I’m feeling this way. It happens a lot – maybe there’s a book in it!
Solidarity, brothers & sisters…