The information given was:
c) death, music, dance
dedicated to Benjamin
Ein-sam-keit. German for Lone-li-ness.
Did you ever feel lonely? By all respect, I don’t mean alone, I said lonely.
You ask where the difference is?
Ok, let me try to explain. Alone is when you feel a lack of company, when you wish being surrounded by people. No, no, when you wish for a particular person to stick around, that is called missing. That’s not the same! Lonely is when you even feel alone, lost, misunderstood or not understood amongst a mass of people, say, you dance and swing and sway to the music in a club, surrounded by all your friends, but somehow there is still this hollow place inside your chest and you feel a lack of something, but you can’t really define it. That comes closer to feeling lonely, yeah.
Okay, now that we have discussed the formalities, I ask you again: Have you ever felt lonely? Alone? Ever missed someone?
‘Yes’ you say? Good.
‘No’, you say? Well, I’ve met people like you before. People who didn’t know loneliness, who never felt alone, who never knew missing. Let me tell you, I taught them missing of the worst kind. I taught them loneliness of the bitterest kind. They were never more alone than at that moment I came around.
Whether I felt sorry for that? Hell, no! Why should I? That’s my job! Plus, call me mean or nasty or unfair, but, it’s not my decision you know?! That is something that you have to understand. I’m not the one writing the book, I’m not the one setting the time and once the timer rings it’s over. I’m just there when the timer rings. I’m there when it’s over. And looking back over my shoulder I see the pain start for those who remain. But if you ask me whether I feel sorry for it, no, really, I don’t. Why should I? I’m as old as time and it has always been that way.
See, now you call me nasty and cold hearted. (Funny enough my friends, who ever said I had a heart, huh?)
But in fact it’s you who are so nasty and egocentric. You ask the wrong questions. You ask whether I feel sorry for it and I answer honestly, honestly no. And you condemn me. But you never ask whether I feel happy about it or whether I feel joy. Because, guess what, the answer is also no. No, I neither feel sorry, nor do I feel joy.
Okay, okay, I have to admit, sometimes I feel a little satisfied. Especially when meeting people who never knew missing, who never knew loneliness. Because, I think it’s unfair, you know. No one ever asked me whether I felt lonely. I mean, yes it is my job, and I do not complain, and it’s been like that since forever, basically. But guess what, walking the streets and wandering the paths until another timer goes off, rings, and I know another job’s awaiting me, can become quite a lonely journey. And then, when it’s over and the ones who remain are taught the lesson of loneliness and missing, at that very moment, we share something. And you know what? That makes me feel less lonely.
So, now you start calling me an egotistic and nasty bastard, you see, there we are again. It’s always me. I’m always the bad guy.
But you failed to ask the right questions!
I do not particularly enjoy it and I’m not sadistic, I just say, sometimes, rarely ever but sometimes it gives me a little satisfaction. But more often than not, it’s just a job.
And sometimes, when meeting those cocky, stupid numpties who don’t know shit about missing and loneliness, I teach a lesson. That’s also part of my job.
On the other hand, let me be clear about one thing.. If you belong to those who say they knew missing and loneliness.. we have to have a word or two as well…
What you call missing or loneliness sometimes, my friends, is purely ridiculous! I mean, hello-ho, you miss someone? Don’t you all have those cute little or big devices for communicating? Tell them. Meet them. Oh, oh, yeah, I see, not possible, yeah, sure. Screw it! The only thing not possible here, is you getting over your close minded assumptions of what is possible and what is not! I never thought it would be possible to hold someone in my hands and suddenly they would slide away and vanish from my fingers, where they had been lingering a minute before, but hey, it happened! Yeah, okay, okay, you do not miss a particular person, but you miss “the old times”, got it. Well, erm, how do I put it nicely… get over it!
I urge you, don’t wait for me to come around to teach you the true and honest meaning of missing and loneliness. It’s harder to get over that one, believe me!
You know, you call me egotistic and nasty, but actually, I’m more generous than you are. I embrace you all, the cocky numpties and the ones who exaggerate and complain a lot, the ones who fight me (by the way, sometimes I even like it when they win, keeps me in shape), the ones who wave ‘hello’ to me, the ones who jump into my arms, the kind ones, the nasty ones. You are all the same in front of me. When you meet me, there is no difference. And I embrace you all. See, I’m generous. Why can’t you embrace me as a matter of fact? Why can’t you embrace the fact that I will be there when your timer rings? We could listen to some sweet music, maybe I’d even let you choose the tune, and we could dance together. Both not lonely for the short rush of a moment that we share.
But yeah, I think, this gap is not so easy to be bridged and I will always be on the darker end of the scale. I mean, I’m competing with bright life, huh. That’s a tough competitor. On the other hand, sometimes some of you don’t appreciate my competitor as much as he deserves, really, I mean it. I know a good man when I see one! And I know a good competitor. You guys really should love him a little more. He gives a whole lot to you, offers you so many possibilities. In comparison to what he offers, what do I have to offer?
Open arms for you and a lesson about missing and loneliness for those who remain.
Your choice, my friends. I will be waiting, anyway.
Gina Laventura © 2015
(inspired by and in honour of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, whose approach towards narration through Death’s perspective was an extraordinary piece of art to work with.)