Here's introducing today's guest post from Sam Perrin!
[Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in all guest posts are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the comic authors or Basho himself.]
Four years ago, I was sitting in a small café on a small street in a small town in Bulgaria when a thought popped into my head. I was nearing the end stretch of a two-month holiday, which I’d taken in the middle of a year-long University exchange to Germany. It had been filled with experiences that had taught me a reasonable amount about myself, other countries, my friends, and when not to trust a Hungarian bartender who reckons that “the vodka isn’t THAT strong”. As I sat, overlooking the River Yantra, I had this odd thought.
I’d be pretty satisfied with my life if I died now.
Now I don’t mean happy in the sense that I’d have just been thrilled to end a life of such melodramatic suffering; be gone, cruel world, for the coffee is rancid and I have gained 3 kilos. I mean that if Monsieur Reaper had popped up at that moment with that shit-eating grin and gurgled “Your time’s up sonny”, I imagined back then that I’d have probably been alright with it. I like to think I’d have shrugged, closed my book, paid my bill and sauntered off with him in that Hollywood-quality cinematography that we all like to picture our life being framed in from time to time.
Bit of a moron, that younger me. I know a lot of people like to joke about the advice they’d give their younger selves. I can imagine how mine would go;
“Whatever shit you’re planning, don’t.”
“DON’T. Now fuck off.”
Let’s get back to him later though. Finding out you’ve got a year to live can’t be fun. Not your average birthday news. Probably Facebook-post-worthy in this day and age. Might get a few of those recently introduced sad faces. But I suspect there wouldn’t be too many of the laughing ones.
Having never come perilously (or even mildly) close to dying myself, I can’t speak from direct experience on what a rude, jarring reminder of one’s own mortality can do to a person. But on Boxing Day last year, my ex-girlfriend called. A close friend of ours had died. She’d been dead in her room for a week before they’d found her. It was horrible. I like to get eloquent with my adjectives most of the time. There’s no call for it here. Horrible works fine.
I’m not a traditional griever. I gave the eulogy at my Grandfather’s funeral. I made as many jokes as I could. He would have liked it. He was a sarcastic old bastard. I didn’t shed a tear, I still haven’t. Doesn’t mean I don’t miss him. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t shit.
This though, this was different. This was a friend who I assumed I’d see later on. Who I’d partied with in three different countries until 6am. Who had taught me to make Kalimotxo and speak awful Spanish and loved me even when I was a drunken arsehole. Who was four years younger than I was. It didn’t feel right. I was in shock, I was angry. It’s not a feeling I’m accustomed to.
So how do you come to terms with it? I’m not a Christian, I’m not religious, I don’t believe in an afterlife. I know there’s no ‘other side’, no ‘better place’. She was in China. It was a lifelong dream. She was already IN a better place. FUCK your afterlife.
So I started thinking about everything she’d done in her life. The countries she’d lived in, how happy she was even when she was working 16 hours a day and living with parents she often didn’t relate to and NOT out there seeing the world and partying until 6am. And I thought, you know what? She had a bloody good run.
So back to that moron we were discussing earlier, sitting there in Veliko Tarnovo, thinking that he would have been fine to go his merry way, to saunter off into the sunset with his old mate Death, as it were. Bullshit. He would have started blubbering like a baby without his mother on the first day of kindergarten. Yet he’d had a bloody good run too. He wasn’t much older then than she was when she passed away. But he would have thought about the fact that he was supposed to see his parents in Turkey in a week for the first time. He’d never seen Turkey before. What about Africa? He’d never set foot in Chile either. He wouldn’t have thought about the run he’d had, on that exchange, only the one still to come.
Fast forward four months. Exchange over. I had seen more, learnt more, made more friends. Satisfied? Hell no. I hadn’t gone on that cruise of the islands in Croatia. I hadn’t visited my Grandma’s hometown. What about that cuckoo clock I was going to buy? I’d had one year. Where the shit did it all go?
That’s a bit harsh, maybe. Because the biggest lesson I took from that exchange was that no matter how much I do in this life, there’s always going to be something I didn’t get to do. Always something I didn’t accomplish. And that’s fine. Because there will be plenty more that I did.
So maybe knowing you only have one year to go would be a blessing? Yeah, God here. Clock’s ticking. No more pissing around waiting for life to happen to you, mate. You’ve got 12 months to pash a celebrity, take a selfie with the Eiffel Tower, try Herb’s Happy Pizza in Phnomh Penh and find love. Get to it. Cheers boss, thanks for the heads-up.
So will Basho see all his life goals and ambitions fulfilled in a year? Will he find harmony within himself and die a fulfilled and happy man, knowing that he achieved all he could have with his time on this earth?
Probably not, but I reckon he’ll have a bloody good run.
Sam Perrin is a part-time ecology student, part-time rapper, part-time world-traveller. Spawned from the burnt-out husk of a eucalyptus tree in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, he’s since lived in (and been subsequently chased with pitchforks and torches out of) Canada, Germany and most recently, Norway, where he is currently completing his MSc thesis on moose ecology. You can find his music at www.facebook.com/conp44 or you can find him haggling with hapless Norwegian supermarket staff over their lemon prices.