Seconds bleed into minutes, which haemorrhage into hours, which petrify into one dead, forgotten human experience.
Saturday morning I realised just how much I’m connected to social media, to everyone else’s lives, memes, political standings. I nearly fainted at the idea of how many hours, not minutes, hours a day I have been distracted, letting a computer programme suggest what should be written on my tombstone when I die, which country I would be if I were a country, which cocktail captures my spirit.
As I said, I nearly fell over, but I didn’t as I was already lying down in my bed, just waking up…because social media is my breakfast.
A cute baby picture, an annoying post from an acquaintance who gets under my skin because I let them live there, yet another short video about the orange baboon running the world, all that and a cup of coffee is the way I choose to rise to each of my limited days on this insane planet.
I noticed my fingers make the action to enter apps even though my brain had not asked them to just yet; like trained slaves that are required to make the same monotonous meaningless chore repeatedly, this is all they know.
This is their lives.
This is them jumping to duty.
After making such a terrifying realisation I decided that I would not use social media for the weekend and as a result I have had the most outstanding 48 hours.
The small, seemingly innocent action of checking what everyone else is up to, sharing my information and needing to snap all the wonderful things I see and feel seems harmless, extremely harmless, however, when I stopped for two days it was like pushing through a foggy hangover and finally sobering up.
My unfocused eyes, my soggy brain, niether of them knew what to do.
Eyes: I just…where are the memes? Where are the 'like’ buttons? Where are the…..WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?
Mind: Hahaha stupid eyes…wait…do I have to do something?
My partner and I decided to go cold turkey together and after a few hours we both agreed that we felt like we had somehow got our lives back. There was the undeniable feeling that we had been freed and it was sad yet exhilerating.
A whole forgotten world of the milli moments in between things we would be able to rediscover. So excited to finally be bored again.
When you don’t have a never-ending thread of mindless but engaging bullshit to see e.g. a video about an old couple who still like each other after all these years, a photo of an extremely happy and well-lit friend, a photo of a sunset that you can’t feel because it has a square black rim around it and absolutely no smell. When you don’t have that you are forced to look for interesting things to do, and interesting things to do we found.
We decided to visit Madrid Archaeology museum that is maybe a 20-minute walk from our house. The museum is filled with astounding history of how Spain became Spain and is one of the most exciting and stunning museums I have ever visited. From large walls of ancient mosaic pieces to virtual reality tours, it blows your mind and reminds you what a tiny part you play in the crazy, madly put together motion picture we call home. It was so interesting to learn how the first street came about, how there are ruins of that very street still in existence today, how we could go and see the first street in Spain! Just one of the many things we would never think about but probably should.
It was a wonder slowly walking around ancient artefacts cleverly put together to tell the most interesting story of all time… ‘How We Got Here’.
Nothing reminds you how short and precious life is like seeing a picture of our 3000-year-old ancestors casually eating each other.
Two lioness statues with fierce female faces and amazing breasts guard the giant 4 story building. I thought to myself, “I would love one of those for my tombstone” then another voice swiftly butted in “Who the fuck are you? Just get burnt and scattered, idiot.”
We got through two stories and decided to save the rest for another weekend.
On the walk home I bought the book “I’d die for you and other short stories” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. After he had written Great Gatsby his audience wanted more stories of wild parties and young love, but he didn’t have it in him. He wanted to write about other things. No one took much interest and he struggled to get by after his great success. The stories are not as romantic and have an awkward structure but I am really enjoying hearing what he had to say about life after he got the girl and realised he and she were both pretty mental.
“I know what is expected of me, but in that direction the well is pretty dry and I think I am much wiser in not trying to strain for it but rather to open up a new well, a new vein….Nevertheless, an overwhelming number of editors continue to associate me with an absorbing interest in young girls…an interest that at my age would probably land me behind bars.”
“But to die so completely and unjustly after having given so much. Even now there is little published in American fiction that doesn’t slightly bare my stamp…in a small way, I was an original.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Nice to have time for the non classics from classic writers. What was one generations' trash might well be another generation’s treasure.
After dinner, we treated ourselves to see Sara Baras who is regarded as one of the best flamenco dances in the country. I’m still thinking about the show. The pure energy seemed impossible. The performance was her homage to 6 of the greatest flamenco singers and dancers of the past.
A dashing, heavy browed, wet-haired man came out and performed the dance of the matador with the capote (red material) and I could finally see what people mean when they refer to bull fighting as dancing. It’s a shame that in the ring something innocent needs to be slaughtered, something has to die, but I could see the dance quite clearly here…and it is beautiful.
After he left the stage, a woman with a body that makes you say to yourself, “Okay, calm down…you have good qualities” appeared like a fire in a red dress and seductively flicked it like a matador uses the capote to attrack and enrage a bull. A man in black joined her and they began dancing together, when he got too close, she slowly died in his arms.
This was especially moving as I had just walked past cardboard cut outs of graves in the street representing the women who had been killed by men this year. The number isn’t shrinking, let’s just say that.
Towards the end, Sara comes out and creates music using only her feet. She would speed up and slow down to a stop and your heart moved in sync with the sound and reminded you that one day your heart…. will…just…slowly…stop…like that…without warning or reason.
After stamping into the stage to the point you thought she might actually hammer her spirit into it forever, she then became completely still and slowly unfolded her arms like tiny, transparent bird wings and they were seemingly simple movements but done with such blood that you could not stop looking at them. You couldn’t help but wonder if she might fly away into another world right in front of us.
During the curtain call she mimed ripping her heart out of her chest and throwing it into the audience. Not many people can make a gesture like this without looking like an absolute prick, but she was so genuine and fiery that you felt like you might have just catch some of the magic she was sprinkling over her spectators.
The next day we went to the book fair in the park that was buzzing with over a hundred stalls; homosexuality stall, boat stall, burlesque stall, you name a topic it had a stall. Endless lines of excited people waiting to meet their favourite writers and a young girl who had written a children’s book was explaining it to the little ones.
There was a grandfather with an bird-shaped walking stick buying his grandson a book, there was a 50-year-old man sitting on a park bench with his 90 something melted mother, holding her face up tenderly in his hand, “Don’t sleep again, you can’t possibly sleep again. Stay awake with me.”
I quickly had enough of too many people but felt so full of energy knowing that words were still worshiped the way they deserve be.
As we left the park, a smartly dressed orchestra was gathering in the bandstand. I had never seen a bandstand used for what it was built for before, except for in photos and films. People sat, eagerly, awaiting to be soothed by sounds. I lay down on the grass and watched the birds perform a dark ballet over the grey sky as the music played and a few sprinkles of rain began to fall.
One warm drop on my left hand.
Another warm drop on my cheek.
A warm, heavy splash on my forehead.
The clouds were about to burst into tears, but I didn’t move; the smell of something real, true and timeless is always welcome in a fast, smokey city.
With no device with me to capture any of this, to shoot the moment dead, I just let each of the minutes wash over me like the warm rain.
If these memories are important enough to share, I will have to find some extraudinarily good words… or some strong shoes.