مجرّد لحظة للكاتبة إيزابيل دَل ريو
نحاول في كلّ ليلة تجاوز لحظة مقلقة تطوّق مخاوفنا السيئة. ثمّة نمط متكرر يلازمنا قبل النوم حين تقفز تلك اللحظة المرعبة أمام أعيننا وبكلّ قوة. الهنيهة التي نرّكز فيها على ما قد دار في النهار واحتمالية ما يمكن قد حدث خطأ وخطأ فادحاً بالفعل إلاّ أنّه لم يحدث في النهاية. وبالمقارنة مع تلك اللحظة فإنّ حياتنا لا تُطاق أحياناً إلاّ أنّ الأمور تسير مطمئنةً في نهاية اليوم ويكون الوسواس فقط قد تَمّكن منا لا أكثر. لحظة القلق اللا متناهي تلك هي التي تجعلنا نستمر رغم الصراع وربّما هو من يمنحنا الأمل.
“Every night we manage to survive a single distressing second that encompasses our worst fears. There is a routine just before we fall asleep, when that single and horrifying second arrives in full force, allowing us to see what could have gone wrong –so terribly wrong– during the day. And so compared to that single second, our lives –at times utterly unendurable– turn out just fine. Ultimately that single and tragic second of imagining the worst, even though it never happened –for it was all in your mind–, will make you want to go on despite the struggle and perhaps even give you some sense of hope.”
The day goes by just like that. The tube, the train, the bus. Those talking loudly in the streets, those stopping to check their mobiles in silence. The job I have, the people I think I know, the things I learnt on purpose or by chance. The family I come back to every night, to cook for and to clean for, to cherish sometimes. The altercations with my colleagues, the arguments with my husband. The children that go to school, to the playground, to a birthday party. The sustenance I get at the supermarket, the products I cannot afford to buy. The daily routine that is impossible from any viewpoint, and yet it is my routine and every day I must experience it in full force. Each day a ring of fire through which I vigilantly go through without getting injured or burnt, trying to remain cheerful at all cost. How did I do it, I ask, all those months and years and decades, day after day, holding it tightly together so that my life and the lives of those close to me would not come apart. How could I manage for such a long time, I continue asking myself, since the life I led was unendurable from any standpoint you care to look at it.
Let me not repeat myself, for this is today. But then it could be tomorrow. It certainly was yesterday. Every day is ultimately the same. I have fallen into a routine, you could say. Some would claim that it is a safe routine where I am well aware of the intricacies that I am likely to encounter. Where I take refuge in the safety net of predictability. Where I am familiar with the ground and very few things will surprise me. Where continuity is more than I could wish for. No, nothing is terribly bad, nothing truly awful. It is a so-so life, anticipated and lacklustre. It is my life, the only one I know and expect, for I am not willing to reinvent myself or lead a different existence at this point in time. And the reason is, as you might expect, that I have given up, surrendered.
And then it happens.
At night, just before I fall asleep, the instant my eyes shut and my muscles let go of countless daily tensions, it arrives in full force with the thrust that only Nature is capable of. The event lasts for only a second, but it seems to contain all the things that could have gone wrong throughout the day, at every turning, in every instance. Catastrophes, dramas, commotions that might have ensued after each of my routine actions that day. In the train, on the bus, with the food I buy and with the family I have to live with. Disasters and calamities waiting for me at every corner. Death and devastation concealed under each one of my actions. The transformation of my tedious routine turning into something so much more shattering. Why did none of those terrible things happen, I ask, and what stops a regular sort of life from becoming a terrifying nightmare? It may be all in my mind, but what I picture in that single second is as powerful as the most indisputable fact.
And here is a taster so that you understand: a hospital visit that ended in the morgue, an argument with work colleagues that resulted in a fight to the death, the brisk walk that became a mighty fall tearing me apart. All that and more could have happened so easily, so very easily. Endless possibilities, so many of them utterly calamitous, could have emerged as the most tragic reality. And yet they did not. Why ever not? And why did what actually happened happen? It is all down to statistics, some will claim, and what takes place is plainly what is most likely to take place. But in that single second, all those hateful and endless possibilities cross my mind at frightening speed, forcing me to have a taster of what horrifying misfortunes could have perhaps occurred.
Every night, night after night, I manage to survive that single distressing second that encompasses nothing but my fears. And when that second is over, I go back to my usual routine: work, family, endless chores, the people I need to deal with on a daily basis. Everyday life is, after all, a different type of torment, less intense than my nightly second of terror but equally bewildering.
And so a torment lasting a second is not that unendurable, I say to myself, my life turned out just fine today, nothing was as tragic as what I saw in that single horrifying moment. Hope shines, though only momentarily.
And then the next night it starts all over again.