Albert, Walter and I come from similar places but are gravely different. Each of us, while young, sat idly in a boat traveling safely over Grandma’s blue carpet. The waves were cresting the bow and matched the salt wind in our hair. Across the ocean we did go, with only our favorite wand as our paddle. There was a safety in this, and we knew no other world. As children we knew that if we told the older folks how to play, then they might share the secrets of the universe. It was quickly revealed to us that once one finds the answer to one question, the universe had enclosed more secrets beyond it. Eventually we got to a question that is unanswerable. This happened to me at 18 years of age. It happened to Albert and Walter at 12. The exact nature of the question was intangible.
We each found philosophy in drink and such nonsense. Needlessly we would wait until two in the morning to raise our voices in an argument based solely on drunken vigor. I had always thought that I would discover the nature of the beast. Walter was often quick to make sure I stopped asking. He said it was like opening a wound in the psychosocial. I questioned his reasoning. I’m not sure if it was because the mystic qualities of my questions deemed I worried about the ethereal or whether those responsible two heard my half-crazed suggestions and found my breathless gasps to be wholly unanswerable.
The silence could have been a response to my actions. I was notorious for shrouding my concerns in such a belligerent and cold atmosphere that it was difficult to hear the words, let alone have a polite conversation regarding absurd political or spiritual theories. Either way, I was certain the small community that I was residing in was going to keep me blind to the realities of any persuasive mistress. That is why we would drink.
I was concerned that Summerland, British Columbia was not what it was said to be. We were bored here, as she was a drafty and sweltering hot land, brought forth by wonder, haunted by mystique, which led us to mindless wandering very much like the future days that my mind was heralding. I knew that life was something special. With the intoxication, I also grew concerned that I was past death.
Summerland was a mistress. She could come in any form. She could be an intangible idea, the comfort of home, cold cement masking the winter, apathetic babysitters or Soviet reservations on settlements within the grounds of music festivals. Those people were not I and to be sure, they upheld their own codes of conduct and shared the ethics that I expected to bring to my land, wherever it may be. These were aimless wandering around the quiet street of my hometown. They wanted me to leave and see the world.
Summerland begged her children to take up heavy drinking. This was first because of the boredom, but also a reaction to the advertisements, music, commercialization and popularity of parties and drunkenness. Albert and Walter changed and developed with the land they were surrounded by. This is why whiskey acted differently for each of us.
Albert thought whiskey was his muse. To him she was a lady that allowed him to make love to the sky and forests. It freed his soul for the turmoil that sunk his spirit, a kind of frightened letter written with big, curved symbols that looked very pretty but amounted to much nonsense.
Walter still believes that she is a cold, menacing and dire wind. He considers whiskey a mistress. He would take her out to dine but felt that he had to hide this relationship for those most dear to him. He knew they expected him to be drunk, as it is the common action of a man from our land. He could not reserve a seat in advance. The liquor just took him, beat him and left him alone, asleep in the alley.
The third man is myself, and I had long ago given up hard drink. It didn’t settle my mind like the television had told me it would and I didn’t care for being asleep in the dirt, somewhere out in the forest. It didn’t look good on my social resume.
Walter, quite contrary to me, didn’t have the sense to tell his children (whether they were born or not) that if one nurses the bottle as many times a day as he, water will lose its luster. By the time he had a chance to have a child, it seemed that all other liquids had lost their meaning. He laughed once when we were surprised that he didn’t drink water. He was sure that the water base of coffee was enough to sustain his health. This is a dire perversion of concern. Although both of us had seen Albert stumbling down the street held afloat by a friend, Walter was certain that he was doing his best. I thought that the chill in the air was a scared persuasion. He was creating his child’s view of the world, whether the child exists yet or not. It is a cycle wrapped in something as dear to me as the winter, a natural procession of our humanity, or steps away from the door. In any case, the child will be quick to tell me that whiskey is wonderful, because that is what Albert or Walter tells him. I would rather they leave him out of it.
The cold shelter that Walter finds himself in when the light of morning comes and he remains awake because of his Father’s drunken cries for festive spirits. This can break the spirit of even the strongest person. It has been a life for him, and he knows little else but the endless cycles of alcohol and broken dreams. Yet he remains strong. He is the kind that finds the strength to break this cycle. He dreams of a life filled with everything they wished they had. For some reason he does it for his Father.
It is an alien feeling to Albert and I. We have often paused for a moment in retribution, but we try not to notice those who are crying in alleys and hard up for even the smallest cup of coffee. Although we didn’t like to admit it, we were the majority. Because our sheltered town was as it was, we wondered why people let themselves return to the same stoop, with a new bottle of whiskey and jaundiced skin. They had little concern for greater theories regarding life and the universe. Their perspective blurs and sees what is needed, the food and shelter that they were not provided, the vacations and day spas, satellites and waterfalls they dreamed were some place but could not possibly fathom to be near or have.
We can be assured that with the proper amount of clarity such luxuries become available for those that are born to even the sickest people. And in the same way, those that live in the lap of luxury from birth at some point find themselves hungry, unable to sleep, or in need of a greater cause. I find reason to believe in this is a balanced and fatalistic universe. I hope that we all share the same experience in our own time. My old friends cannot.
It is these paradoxes, which perhaps serve only to balance the universe, that allow us to find some sense of spiritual awakening in our travels. I hope that our dripping words, melted like the twice worn show that wrapped us in nonsense can become a silence, not to stop us from acting in the proper or expected way, (what a horrid world that would be), but to reflect upon as a people who are sure that we cannot know what we are, believe or do.
As a concerned citizen, I would like to add to the communal paranoia by suggesting some silly political concerns, methodically told by the major media interests in Canada. It seems that the people involved were both intoxicated and angry, and in such an article one must think that this country is something other than an intoxicant, setting citizens minds upright in some procedure said to save our souls. I have posed the worrisome words as abstract questions, as to not be fingered for trying to point them out. While we are concerned with the alcohol drifting over the horizon, with clarity that can only come from sobriety, we can notice that we miss some important factors in the news. We should also note the alcoholic sponsorship that preceded the events.
Why did the well-predicted Vancouver riots occur soon after the announcement that Canada would be bombing Libya indefinitely? Should we be concerned that the riots were said to be either about a hockey game or caused by anarchists? It was soon after an election which was won on a tough on crime platform, as well as voter disinterest. It serves as an example for the governing party to use when they build more prisons. It also explains the lack of voter interest. Perhaps the drunker a population remains the easier it is to govern them. It is said that God invented alcohol to keep the Irish from ruling the world, but history shows the blame should be laid directly on ancient Britain. Notwithstanding is the change of word in that common phrase. It is eerie in its sentiment.
Albert and Walter are two men simply not concerned with paranoia towards the news. There is a rhythm and measure to their minds. There is neither panic nor tremble in their hands. That is the subtle difference between those who want to believe what we are taught and those who do not believe what they are told. There is another type in this story, and surely many more in the world. All our characters touch this, as we all wish for the carefree mind that is not listening to the news. At some point in the last ten years we lost touch. It is a sort of apathy that feels grand. It also seems to be why it is okay. The best way to hear the news it to make it, by proving something interesting or changing the world for the better.
But here I remain, closed minded, paranoid and sober, now. And now these concerns belong to a man who is unsure of where he comes from. These are the worries of a man who does not know who he is or what he does. They are lost along the sands that bring a haunted look to his eyes. His eyes peer into the meaningful and meaningless in a roped, tired promise. They are lost because they begin to look for answers. The dream is that everyone is really looking out for our best interests. These are the dreams of someone who watches silent television looking for hidden messages or mind control meant to keep us trapped in alcoholic jests. They are meaninglessly meant to drop our mind to the lowest detail, hopefully to brighten our spirits.
These hidden messages never show up, but surely I can create one out of nothing. By any means, drugging a population must be a crime. It is also a crime to take away our choice. Might the charade come from someone important? Or is it our own fault that we don’t listen or care? Or is intoxication a natural part of our animalistic reality? If that is the case, then the absurd fun that comes from a night out of town may be healthy, and it cannot be blamed for the apathy and ignorance to the true nature of the beast. I must add, that I am not sure what the beast even looks like, let alone how it acts. I remain sure that every person is able to avoid the wrath of the ill natured and power mad, because bureaucracy keeps nearly one million people between myself and the man who made the law. One can be thankful for that.
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