Finally the world is shaping in my image. The fog has started to linger all day. The leaves are changing from sickly green-and-brown to a dead orange and red. The days have suddenly shortened to five hours long, three of them usable. Provided, of course, that you aren't working full time, in which case you get up when it's dark, sit inside at your computer when it's slightly lighter outside, and walk home when it's cold and dark. The nine-to-five cycle is a cruelty that we visit upon ourselves for the sake of the fun we're supposedly going to have when we're out of it, but the entire outside is constructed on the foundation that we have to be fresh and ready for the following cycle, necessitating an early bed and a distinct lack of legal narcotics. Full timers live in a state of constant disappointment, punctuated by bouts of hopeless drive as they plan their "big break." There are also moments of comic depression, but they're hardly funny.
I'm always tired. My body refuses to adapt to my full time status, and my brain yearns for something more. I'm a young man, only twenty-two years old, and i'm working in the travel industry selling other people, full timers like myself, the one chance at happiness they'll have for a full year or two. I know at least ten different passwords for programs that I use once a week. I know the differences between One World and Star Alliance around the world fares. I know which seats on a plane have the most legroom, and why you'll never get them. And what's more, I have, in the past, felt that knowing these things is an acheivement. I'm twenty-two years old, a full time employee, and I feel like i've should have lived a lifetime. But I haven't. And the reason isn't me - perish the thought - it's the world I live in.
Terry Pratchett has written that people have so many demons because we're so good at imagining them. Demons are of our own making. Greed, sloth, avarice, pride, envy, wrath and lust are outlets, the first resort of a mind that is consumed by boredom. Humanity is an incredible beast, a hollow shell within which inhabits the horrific beauty and incredible complexity of consciousness. It is a temple where the human mind invokes its deepest fears and is consumed by them, enacting its vengeance on the world around it for wrongs simulated by a mind diseased with imagination. But the human mind is a mere amateur at creating demons when compared with its excellence in creating barriers and constraints. The nine to five working day is but one of these: racial inferiority, politics, self-importance, international borders, common courtesy, education, capitalism, and law are the tip of a terrifying iceberg that lurks not beneath but over the heads of our entire culture, ready to drop at any moment and sever our lives.
I can imagine only two things worse than their existence in the first place. First, that humanity actually enjoys constraints - they provide our lives with definition, a framework within which to prosper until we can forget about the outside world and say (according to us) truthfully that we are the very best at what we are. The second is that our boundaries have begun to evolve and grow without our help. Political correctness, once a nebulous issue for politicians and public officials alone, has grown to a point where you can no longer refer to someone by the colour of their skin, but by their racial background instead.
It isn't entirely true, though, is it? Humans are well equipped to imagine something worse. Take your worst fear - perhaps it's being trapped without water in the desert, or being chased through your house by a knife-wielding maniac. Now in your nightmarish reality, set yourself on fire. Add biting snakes and spiders. Flay your skin off slowly. Wait, there's more. Imagine that in all the universe, you are completely unimportant. That nobody is watching out for you. That none of your choices matter, and everything you do will eventually mean precisely nothing. That your destiny is, in fact, to be another pile of dust.
Humans have a unique ability to blind themselves to the truth of things, and to the worst of things. Perhaps that's optimism. On that, I will not comment. What I know is that i'm tired all the time, and the day has been grey from start to end. And there's a feeling lately, that the world is about to pass something important. Pass, like a kidney stone, or perhaps pass like a person ignoring an opportunity. Both terrify and excite me. I only hope that we recognise the opportunity when it comes.