The horror of coexistence

We lie in bed together. He’s trying to seduce me, I’m trying to resist. I’m telling him, I’ve already done enough of what I probably shouldn’t have done, perhaps I should stop at this point. He asks me why. He asks me whether I’m scared of going to hell. Sure, you could call it so. Well, I’m sure you haven’t done anything that terrible. Have you made a man cheat on his wife?

In a way, this does resemble hell.

A hell where the man I’ve made cheat on his wife coexists with his wife coexists with me, with my joy today, coexists perhaps with another girl who has made that man cheat on his wife, coexists with his sorrow, with my sorrow, with his wife’s anger, with the man who’s asking me today whether I’ve made a man cheat on his wife, the man trying to seduce me. And our whole little world coexists with the war a few thousand kilometers south, coexists with the children dying from hunger, coexists with a rich woman spending billions on her dress, coexists with the baby left alone in a hospital straight after birth.

I can choose not to see. I can choose to ignore the existence of terrible cancer pains, of the inhuman attitude towards a woman giving birth in a hospital just right now, the misery of an old solitary woman asking for coins at the door of my house.

I can choose to pretend the world ends at that line behind which I decide not to look. The problem is, it doesn’t. As much as I try to make my own world better, fuller, more fulfilled, that other world will keep existing.

I could try to embrace that world, to become part of it, to change it for the better. I could start giving food to the homeless. I could help this blind man cross a street. I could try being good to the people around me. This will expend my boundaries. I’ll know a bit more. I’ll become more aware of our coexistence.

Awareness doesn’t change the world. Perhaps I can’t say it properly. I was driving my bike next to a pond that seemed green from the reflections of trees around it. Two swans were swimming on the pond’s surface, very close together. I was looking at a beautiful sunset on the way home from a dancing party. I was happy and my life looked about perfect. And yet the thought that came to me was that the hell is always present, right here, in this very life, next to this stunning sunset. And it’s not the coin’s flip side. The hell emerges from the presence of the two sides at the same time. The inavoidable coexistence of good and evil, present and past, the inevitable coexistence of me, that man and his wife till the end of our lives (and perhaps beyond?).