I’m in Chicago at the moment. In a cafe in the Lincoln Park area, the Noble Tree. It’s a nice place, independent, £2 for an enormous coffee, and big armchairs to sit in. I’ve got some prep for a conference on Tuesday and I want to get everything out of the way by the end of the day, so I’m going to work away in this cafe. Then I can just enjoy myself tonight, I’ve got plans to check out a local jazz club.
Last night I realised that I’ve lost my mobile phone en route. Last seen as I sat in my seat on KLM flight 611 from Amsterdam.
When I realised, I just felt terrible. I wanted to lie down on the floor right where I was and not get up. It’s not the inconvenience of the loss of the phone, though that’s a bit of an arse. I’ve got job interviews on the go at the moment, so I’ve no way of checking my phone messages if they try to phone me this week. The loss of an expensive phone is not nice either, but I reckon I’m going to be happy with the backup cheapo phone I have, give smartphones a bye until I get my upgrade. The hassle of getting everyone’s numbers again, yeah that’s not good either.
But it’s not that, that’s not enough to make a man want to lie on the floor of the lobby of his hostel and let the world pass him by. No, it’s the fact that I can’t stop myself doing things like this. Yeah, I have days when I walk around like I’m in a daydream and it’s understandable when I forget and lose things on those days. Recently though, I’ve felt like I was on the ball, actively paying attention to make sure I’m not doing stupid things and I’m still doing them. Half my life is spent battling the effects of my own carelessness.
It’s like a metaphor for life. Like it or not, everything tends towards chaos. You leave your perfectly kept garden for a few weeks and it overgrows. You buy a new car and it rusts, people scrape their car door against yours. Idiots steal your motorbike and set it on fire. Your perfectly constructed social life decays as people move house, town, job, get married or just plain change. You grow older, greyer (or balder) and maybe even a little bitter.
The thing is not to pretend these things aren’t happening, or to wish they wouldn’t, but to just fight against it. You paint your door, you wash your car, you get new clothes, you make new friends, you get a new SIM card, get all your friends’ numbers and you phone KLM customer care to see if they’ve maybe found your phone. Life is a fight to impose order on disorder, one we all lose in the end, but the point is to keep fighting away in the meantime.
I often think of life on Earth as a little fortress holding out bravely in the intergalactic losing battle against entropy. “You should get out more”, I hear you say, but I’m being honest, I do often think that.
They’ve just started playing Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life in the cafe. Seems about right…
Update: Major progress. Not only did I manage to get all my work done, being a day early for a deadline for the first time in my life, I actually found my mobile, in a weird forgotten pocket inside a pocket inside my bag. Yes! Take that, entropy!