All That Man Is

David Szlay

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5 Fragments (saved in 2017)

Yesterday he experienced a sort of dark afternoon of the soul. Some hours of terrible negativity. A sense, essentially, that he had wasted his entire life, and now it was over. The sun was shining outside.

That's the thing about fate, the way you only understand what your fate is when it's too late to do anything about it.

Floating over the world, the hard earth fathoms down through shrouds of mist and vapour, the thought hit him like a missile. Wham. This is it. This is all there is. There is nothing else. A silent explosion. He is still staring out the window. This is all there is. It's not a joke. Life is not a joke.

He likes the little world of the university. He likes it. The fairy-tale topography of the town. A make-believe world of walled gardens. The quietness of summer. The stone-floored lodge, and the deferential porter. Yes, a make believe world, like something imagined by a child. Somewhere to hide.

Everything so settled, you see. It all happened a thousand years ago. And the medievalist sits in his study, in a shaft of sunlight, lost in a reverie of life on the far side of that immense lapse of time. The whole exercise is, in its way, a memento mori. A meditation on the effacing nature of time.