As you may well know (or may not) I am not new to the experience of conflict and the suffering of this world. I am writing this more for myself than for you, but be a good reader and don’t stop, and do make sure to finish what you have started. I Have served in both world wars, and came to know from experience exactly what war is and means. Being in my youth and prime, driving ambulances on the Italian front as a red cross medic. Like all young men, I thought I was immortal. All of this death was happening to others, not me. I was just there helping people to survive. But a pesky German mortar destroyed that illusion. It’s not until you sustain the kind of injuries you see others taking daily that you realise just how mortal, and foolishly ignorant you are.
But, when we talk of war we are quick to talk of valour, heroes and also the devastation that they save us from. We seem to forget war is not simply physical brutality and a chance to show that a man, is indeed a man. War is also emotional, human and inhuman. No matter how you look at life, war is not just grand events of countries and states. But also an everyday occurrence. Relationships being the perfect example of a war. Being young and naïve makes you clueless to war. Clueless to violence that can so easily be placed on one’s self and also come from the most unexpected ‘allies’.
It is only when a youth falls in love, and is abandoned does that same youth learn what life actually is: a conflict of interests, a war of desires. A war ground of emotional violence, where one suffers until one cannot go on, or continues to go on until the body cannot. The result is the same.
But, if one can write, express and be passionate among this theatre of misery. To write, to scribble, to express while bombs fall on you, wearing you down but not preventing a single word. Now that, is passion for life! Nothing can stop that person while they are in that mode of being.
And as I rub my fingers down the medals which both wars gave me, I realise how absurd they are. They are made of the very material that tore through me, and millions. Thank you for allowing me to carry it and feel proud for earning metal that doesn’t penetrate my body. How utterly absurd to wear and take pride in this indifferent metal that could so easily be recycled bullets that murders my friends and countless other people.
I am not going to talk of everything in my life or what happened to me. When the events and people abandon you, you learn to abandon them first, preemptively. My point in expressing myself is quite simple really: I wish to leave something worth saying about my experience that can be applied to all.
Try to remember, no matter where you are and what you’re doing, you’re playing a part, a part un-asked for. A position which is self-created. You’re but a cog in a grander scheme, of which the machinations result in conflict. Even that most precious of things: love; Is a war. As I have said, a stage filled with desires that conflict with other actor’s. And even when for a sweet moment your desires are identical with another person, that time will pass, that moment will fade. And they will be quick to find a reason not to share the stage with you, or to create their own.
Now in my family, my blood; there is a different kind of war. My family have the uncanny ability and disposition to obtain suicide. I do believe this is carried by my blood, my family’s genes. Of which I have tried to thin by drinking, and I drunk well. And who better than my best friend to remove me from the stage? Not one better does live, and nor does my friend.
To add to that: hemochromatosis isn’t exactly the most pleasant problem to carry for thirty plus years. It wears you down, it makes me tired. It makes me stay in bed for days, silent: as if silence was a comfort instead of the most brutal of truths; the most obvious evidence that we are alone. And a harsh reminder of what waits for us: nothing. Nothingness.
I’m also so sick of trying to be helped by the people who love me. I have problems that can’t be helped by being put in a ward with others that drive me as crazy as them. And as for the treatments, do they honestly think that added suffering to suffering will negate suffering? What a moronic thought. What a stupid action that could only be thought up by such a stupid mammal as the human.
Anyway, it is more than time enough for me to take my leave. What better way to leave one’s stage than to remove oneself. Just try to remember: we all have our wars and plays. Just be a little more observant and maybe you can see them too, all of the little conflicts, the big wars, the genocide of feelings. The personal crises. The stage. Be wary and watch carefully, because life is the one play with no script.
Ernest Hemingway, 1961.