The Quality of Our Suffering

Disclaimer: the following may be dramatised for entertainment purposes, which are different from entertainment porpoises and which I believe Sea World deals in.

I am a juggler; mid throw, slow motion.
This life is a circus and I am a clown, the colourful misrepresentation of much quoted Shakespeare.
In this caricature I envision my face painted, complete with a gaping smile and wide eyes cast upwards as my entire arsenal of juggling paraphernalia is overcome by gravity and their weighted ends are turned back on me.
As my eyes find these tools of entertainment I’ve sent skyward I realise they are knives and axes, flaming torches and hand grenades.
Although I must be the one who has sent these objects skyward I have absolutely no idea how to juggle and I am now caught in a shitstorm of explosives and sharp objects.

Traveling and living overseas is a personal philosophical journey, whether or not that is sought by the traveler.
We travel to experience, to indulge, to learn and to grow.
You surround yourself with new people in new places because your departure point has become stable, and stability is for bridges and people who can deal with responsibility.
And as each of these experiences, indulgences and opportunities to learn and grow present themselves you react accordingly.
And, human as I am, my reaction is often to catch the knife by the handle and the torch by the flame.
So I attempt to fan the flame with the blade of a knife, and forge myself an entirely new ordeal.
And then I wake, sober and wondering where all these cuts and burns came from.

I came to Tofino for two weeks five months ago.
It sucked me in like a black hole and showed me a summer from all points in time and everything I could hope to enjoy and learn from.
In this metaphor I am Matthew McConnaughy with only the most basic understanding of black holes and this town is my Interstellar book case.
And one day here does seem to be a lifetime back home, as a new Prime Minister is sworn in and it seems maybe we’ve gone Back to the Future from 1959 to somewhere nearing October 21, 2015.

At the pub every day people ask me why I am in Tofino, and how I got to Tofino.
Aside from the usual money-grabbing responses re: “to serve lovely people such as yourselves, of course,” my answer is often to look around at the scenery and tell them I came down out of the mountains in search of the ocean.
Because, shit, either tourists love an eloquent server or I am just pretentious.
But although that holds true and having the ocean within pissing distance of my front door is key to my survival, it’s always the people who I am privileged enough to call my friends along the way who keep me from wandering off too soon.

And although this town has had me dancing through the battlegrounds of a personal psychological warfare for those same people, I can still sit here on a fold out couch in the living room of staff accommodation wondering about how goddamn good I’ve had it.
Or maybe I simply dwell on glaring examples of my own failings and indulge in fantasies of inadequacy to have something to write about.
“The world is a hellish place, and bad writing is destroying the quality of our suffering,” said Tom Waits, according to a picture my Dad shared with me on Facebook.

A week ago I went skinny dipping in the Tofino Inlet at around three in the morning.
With every footfall and flailing arm splashing in the shallow waters a flash of coloured phosphorescence would light the gaggle of limbs which were accompanied by shrieks of surprise and delight.
As far as experiences and opportunities go, it started as an innocuous evening that came charging in to my life full of surprise, and in the following week has given me cause to learn and grow.

Maybe I’ve grown, maybe I haven’t learnt a thing.
Maybe I’ve just used it as a catalyst for writing something in an attempt to improve upon the quality of our suffering.
But I know I will continue to throw these dangerous objects in the air, practicing and perfecting my style so that in the future I may catch fewer flames and more handles.


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