Swing, swing

Funny how little effort it takes for one’s mood to swing from one end of the spectrum to the other. No idea if this “spectrum” is circular in shape or perhaps an endless, ever-widening gap dividing the various sets of mankind’s emotions into strangely-familiar yet distinctive and separate bits and pieces. It doesn’t really matter, either: mood swings feel completely unnatural in retrospect, regardless of anything.

Take last Thursday, for instance. Since I’ve more-or-less familiarized myself with my new (school) surroundings by now, the actual lessons and chatter surrounding these are beginning to feel like second nature already. I’ll make some stupid jokes about something slightly-related to the subject at hand; some persons around me will start laughing (often just because they’ve seen others do the same). I’ll then listen to my neighbour’s follow-up and return his/her earlier favours. Lessons start, we’ll all write down the same notes (in various degrees of sloppiness), the teacher will make his/her joke, some of us will laugh and others will laugh at such laughter again. Setting nor situation is particularly suitable for or vulnerable to mood swings.

Once outside, the rules change. It becomes a whole different kind of ballgame, out there. Although there’s some level of regulation (buses passing by according to pre-planned schedules, cars stopping at designated areas called “walkways”, pedestrians walking in and out of buildings to enjoy a good lunch or be subjected to a difficult meeting), it’s impossible to fit everything and everyone into some sort of “super schedule” that reads like a roadmap. Having finally escaped the confined area of our scheduled lives, lots of us don’t even know what to do next. Sure enough, there’s that football match on at eight, and yeah: we could drop by at that vaguely-familiar person’s birthday party – but even if we decide to watch said match at said person’s place, there’s still the matter of filling up the vacant hours in between.

And so we wander across the streets, almost getting hit by a bus scheduled to arrive 15 seconds later 100 feet further along the road; and this near-accident becomes our story of the day, for the next few hours anyway. We don’t just sit down next to our new-found friends at our new-found favourite bar, looking at the clock to nudge its indices towards eight and twelve – nope, we tell each other stories about life-threatening situations we’ve encountered in our life time, and how these could have utterly destroyed our respective futures, which in turn would have rendered our current meeting impossible. A couple of pints and a variety of stories later, people find themselves laughing at this misguided concept of “regulated life”. Chaos takes over and yet the atmosphere becomes more relaxed.

We ourselves don’t necessarily want this situation to come to an end – it’s up to the hands of time to take care of that. With every nudge, the pressure of a “scheduled” event becomes more apparent – as if it were one of your parents holding back the swing on which you decided to sit down (impromptu) only moments ago. Fun can’t last forever, apparently: people have to make their appointments, even if it’s something simple like eating dinner or buying a vaguely-familiar person a birthday present. In my case, this meant I had to move on from sitting at a cosy terrace telling clap-trap life lessons, to attending some sort of introductory theme night organized by our faculty’s student chapter.

The transition from (a pleasant) “killing (of) time” to (a perceived) “wasting (of) time” definitely felt like someone holding back my swing. Suddenly I was being forced into meeting new folks, rather than running into them on my own demands: the atmosphere had been drained of its spontaneous nature within the snap of a finger. Attempts to loosen up the crowd were largely in vain: schedules and pre-arranged games don’t allow for such flexibility. It wasn’t until the “liquor” factor had come into play, before someone decided to start pushing the swing again – in full force, that is.

Naturally, we first had to endure the pre-scheduled walk to the bar, the uneasy feeling of making or way through waves of more-experienced students before arriving at a neatly-organized display table full of vodka-laden cocktails. Initially, each of us was handed a voucher for one free drink, and so more awkwardness ensued thereafter: “What’s in this one?” “I’ll have that one, please.” Luckily, each of the tidily-queued cocktails was made up out of one large part of irony – once the drinks had made their way towards our respective bellies, the strangely-regulated system of bodily functions and spine impulses began to tear the pages out of its own agenda… and up we went, kicking our feet high into the air as we danced and sang to songs only half-known to half of us.

Strangely enough, my personal swing went up just as high as that of my fellow newbie-students, while coming down much more quickly and (above all) suddenly. Without even a hint of stagnation, re-regulation or any indication of impending deflation, I had been overcome with feelings of depression and misery: the final result of my previously-scheduled life having finally and indefinitely fallen apart.

Ever since I lost track of my life’s “path”, some three years ago, I’ve managed to keep myself entertained through venturing sidetracks and abandoned rail-road depots for most of the time. It wasn’t until last Thursday night, that I realized how much time had been wasted on those amusing yet structureless thus rather pointless trips along life’s main itinerary. The hands of time suddenly started to windmill their merciless tentacles at breathtaking speeds, ploughing their way through my initial feelings of euphoria, leaving big dents in my department of self esteem. Yes, I had just lost ten precious years, whereas most of the people surrounding me were only nibbling away at this particular decade’s enormous feet. My feelings of depression seemed the perfect mirror image of their baseless sense of hope; in between lay the truth, impersonated by a couple of 24-year olds neither drunk nor sober.

It took twenty minutes, half an hour tops, to get rid of the worst of my depressions; my initial feelings of carelessness never managed to convince my woken-up and beaten-up soul to get back into the game, though. In the end, I carefully manoeuvred my swing back towards the middle ground, settling for the mindset of the 24-year olds after all. That’s a five year deduction, a 16% off coupon, a re-painted swing-set with only a few spots of rust on it. Compared to ten years ago, all of this is a slightly less-powerful push from a somewhat-older guardian, resulting in a not-so impressive swing amplitude – but it’s the best ride you can imagine, having toyed around with just a couple of dangling chains for so long.


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