It was just after midday when the anger hit me.
I’d been to see my counselor Lyndon that morning, and we’d been talking a lot about endings. I’m in a transitionary phase of my life at the moment, with a lot of changes. Lyndon asked me how I dealt with endings.
I didn’t describe it this way at the time, but I’ll use a film analogy. Some people treat endings like the final part of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, with coda after tear-inducing coda while the rest of the people in your orbit sit jangling their car keys with impatience.
Others deal with the series of shock confrontations and revelations necessary to bring closure, and then end with a gentle crane shot that pulls away and fades out, like the father and son clinging together on the steps at the end of Ordinary People.
Me? Endings for me are often like the final shot of Psycho, where Marion’s car is dragged by a chain out of the swamp while viciously linear lines criss-cross the screen like a clinical etch-a-sketch, until only a black screen remains.
The lights go up in the cinema, and you’re left thinking: what the fuck just happened?
I’ve written about anger before. Sometimes no amount of coping strategies will let you wait for the element to cool while conscious, so I decided to take some anti-anxiety meds and go to sleep. I was prepared to be offline for the day.
When I awoke in daylight, I was fully prepared for a whole day to have passed. To my surprise, it was still 4:30pm the same day, and I felt reasonably alert. The anger, frustration and humiliation from earlier had passed and I rose to complete the tasks of the day.
After several weeks break, I have resumed my fitness regime, and today happened to be running day.
Night had fallen by this stage, and I could hear the rain outside. I didn’t care. I needed that air.
I spoke to a friend over the weekend experiencing a similar day of overwhelming emotion and frustration. He decided to walk without direction, for no other reason than to clear his head and be doing something rather than nothing.
Setbacks and frustrations hit you in the gut and paralyse you into nothing. And nothing sucks. There’s plenty of time to do nothing when you’re dead.
I put on my running shoes, the short shorts which various gym twats have seen fit to comment on in the past, and a fleece because it was cold out. The rain had stopped, but the ground was wet and the street lights illuminated the suburb in pools of dank indifference.
I turned on the music, set the interval training programme to go, and set off, timing my footfalls to the beats of the record as a drive to keep myself moving forward.
I passed through darkened streets and eventually hit a main thoroughfare, passing a bus stop at which a lone woman sat. I looked up at the digital readout, which in typical Auckland fashion had one bus scheduled to arrive, but not for another 49 minutes. Its destination was Hobsonville, an area on the fringe of suburbia and rural lifestyle block living.
I didn’t see what the woman was doing as I jogged past. I don’t know if she had a phone on her to distract herself from the loneliness of the cold bus stop by looking at pictures of crap food on Facebook, images of tortured animals designed to blackmail you into caring, or maybe even a badly-composed text to a friend or loved one relaying the events of her day.
Yes, as you can tell, the jog had done little to cure my misanthropia.
In 1966, the Hollies released the perfect pop slice “Bus Stop”, a tale of romance that grows over a winter shared at the eponymous waiting place between a man and a woman who share an umbrella. If I believed in God, I’d say he was responsible for the chord change that underlies the chorus, which surely must rank among the most beautiful ever written. The two end up together at the end of the song, of course.
Bus stops often aren’t like that, though. They’re purgatories of modern living, and I’m unsure whether the digital readouts that tell you how much longer you have to wait make it better or worse. In some cases, they’re a bit like those bastard computer readouts that tell you much longer it’s going to take to copy a series of files. (1 hour remaining – oh really? If you worked on the Starship Enterprise, Scotty would have blown you out an airlock long ago)
I turned back into my street and the rain began in earnest. Not a big downfall, but a cool shower. Sheets of rain cascaded in white across the tarmac, breaking up the overexposed yellow of the street lamps. I felt the air in my lungs, and a brief sensation of taking off.
I thought about the woman at the bus stop, and her 49-minute wait to arrive at a predetermined destination, and realized that I never wanted to be on that bus.
I have to go my own way. I always have. Sometimes it’s served me well. Other times, it’s hurt me greatly, and those around me.
I’ve got my own way. Maybe, like the one described in Duran Duran’s song of the same title, it’s utter nonsense. But at least it’s mine.