PONY JUMPERS #6 – SIX TO RIDE is still a work in progress, and still a week or two away, at the least. But because I’ve been so incredibly slack and I’m so desperately far behind schedule with it, here’s a little excerpt. I guess you could say this conversation has been on my mind, in the wake of recent events.
Scene: Katy and Phil (her next door neighbour – remember Phil?) talking, late at night, about the weight of the world.
“Why is the world such a mess?”
Phil shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s always been like that, I think. It’s just that we can’t help knowing about it.”
“You mean because of the internet and stuff?”
“Do you ever feel like…” I hesitated, unsure of what I was about to say. “I don’t know how to explain this so I don’t sound like a terrible person.”
Phil cocked an eyebrow at me. “You can’t shock me. I already know you’re a terrible person.”
“Ha ha. Fine. I’ll say it, and watch you be shocked.”
He straightened up, fixing his eyes on mine and assuming a serious expression. “Okay, I’ll brace myself. Go.”
The old couch was scratchy against my bare legs. I pulled them up higher under the horse blanket and tucked my feet underneath me, my brain desperately scrabbling for words.
“Do you ever feel like it’s too hard…to care? Like, when bad things happen around the world – suicide bombings and terrorist attacks and people getting beheaded and there being millions of people living in rat-infested refugee camps and it’s so awful and you feel so bad about it, but then you still have to get up every day and go to school and live your life, and your own problems seem so little and petty but then they’re also like, huge, because they’re the only problems that you’ve got. And things go wrong and you get upset and people are like um at least you’re not living in a rat-infested refugee camp and you know that’s true and you try to see that perspective but it’s so…exhausting,” I told him, my words tripping over each other as I stared at his neutral expression, trying to make him understand my point. “Like it’s just too hard to care that much about everyone all at once. And then something really bad happens, something terrible and cataclysmic and everyone gets really worked up and it’s all over Facebook and there are hashtags and memes and everyone changes their DPs and you do it as well because if you don’t then it looks like you don’t care about other people’s plights, and then someone posts something about how the media is misinterpreting what’s going on or how you’ve only been shown the stuff they want you to see, and that hundreds and thousands more people are dying that you never even hear about. So then you feel manipulated and cynical, and you have to feel bad for those people too, for their problems and because they’re being ignored by the media, and it makes you mad that you’re being told to care more about some people than others. And the whole time you’re trying to wrap your head around how it must feel for people to be in those kind of horrific situations, seeing their families get killed and not being able to go to school for fear of their lives, and you think how grateful you are for where you live and what you get to do in your life. But then your mum yells at you for not keeping your room clean, and teachers tell you off for not studying hard enough and it’s like sorry but I have the weight of the freaking world on my shoulders right now, except that I don’t. Not really. Because all those problems are other people’s problems, and my problems are whether I’ve done my homework and whether my room is clean and how my ponies are going to do at the show this weekend. I can’t do anything about whether someone decides to strap a bomb to themselves and kill innocent people. All I can do is write a hashtag and change my profile picture and feel guilty for having a better life than millions of people who are living in rat-infested refugee camps, and that’s nothing. That’s pathetic. And I hate it. I hate feeling so bad about something I can’t change, and something I’m so powerless to fix, so I just try to stop thinking about it. At all.”
My words petered out at last, my tongue finally tying itself in so many knots that I had to stop. I’d just talked myself around in circles, making absolutely no sense, I was sure. I wondered what he was thinking. Heartless cow, probably. I knew I shouldn’t have said anything, but it was too late now. My guts were officially spilled, and Phil still hadn’t said anything, and I just knew that I’d made a terrible mistake. Story of my life.