I started my next poem with the rather awkward line ‘We were all having a great time but we didn’t know it…’ but no sooner had I written this line than I doubted myself. I doubted the flow that I had been just about to surrendour myself to and this was disastrous –it was rather like missing a step when you are descending a steep light of stairs too rapidly, too incautiously. I experienced a sudden jarring shock to the whole system that threw me completely in the most painful and disorientating way possible. I was also going to say that the experience was somewhat like running fast in an uneven field when you suddenly put a foot down a treacherous hole in the ground. It’s the same thing however, so I don’t need to say that. Whichever way I put it, the upshot was that I came a cropper. I took a pratfall.
The moral to this story is of course that if you’re going to surrendour yourself to the flow then surrendour yourself to it – don’t second-guess yourself in other words because if you do that then you’re finished. I wonder now where I would have gone with that poem, where the flow would have taken me. A question that can never now be answered. It set me wondering, though. Could this statement be true? Could it be true that no matter how miserable and bitter and sour-faced we might be on the surface behind it all we’re actually as free as a bird and having a marvellous time? Could this really be true? What an extraordinary thing if it were! It wouldn’t be possible to keep a straight face. How could you – someone comes up to and they’re complaining about this, that or the other, they’re moaning and griping fit to burst and yet you know well that behind it all they’re as happy as Larry (whoever Larry was) and that they’ve never been better? That they’re having the time of their life?
Someone comes up to you and they ask how’s it going how’s life treating you and you reply dourly (as you always do) well I mustn’t grumble I suppose things could be worse. Well of course you mustn’t grumble – you’re in absolutely splendid form, you’re feeling absolutely fantastic! You really couldn’t be feeling better! You’re on Cloud Nine… And what’s more, think of all the petty little dramas we go throw every day – he said this or she said that, he did this or she did the other. And all the squalid emotional negativity and general sourness that goes with that – how can we keep this up at the same time as feeling sublimely happy and at peace with the world? How could this possibly be the case? What’s our game, for God’s sake? What are we at – pretending so convincingly to be wretched and miserable and unfulfilled the whole time when the truth is that we’re having the best time ever?
Now don’t try to tell me that this isn’t a strange carry on! You’ve got to agree that this is kind of weird, to say the least. And what about all those people that spend their whole lives engaged in power games – bullying and being sadistically cruel to people and generally making sure in whatever way they can that anyone vulnerable they come across with is going to have a thoroughly lousy time? What about them? What about these people – the tyrants and torturers and sadists and psychopaths and abusers and capitalists and all of that unholy crowd? What about those who delight in other people’s pain? Are we supposed to believe that they’re as happy as can be really, underneath it all, even though they’re destroying people’s lives everywhere they go? You’re never going to convince me of that – the idea just doesn’t hold water as far as I’m concerned…