Dear friend, a tempest roars at my laptop screen. In vain I have tried to contact you through the internet, but you have un-followed and blocked wherever it is allowed. Thus I am forced to send this message via this highly trained carrier pigeon I secured from various intelligence agencies. It works on a contract basis and has no loyalties. The pigeon informed me that it had been waiting outside your house for two days but you never open your windows. That is why I have sent it back with this hammer. I need you to hear me friend, I need you to understand.
The world is ending. Things are worse than they have ever been and we are descending a fiery spiral into fervent mania and thick black chaos. Countries are at war, people dislike other people and celebrities are not wearing underwear for some reason. Every day at the three minute intervals at which I check Facebook, I am reminded of the evil that surrounds and consumes us. I remember the happy times and wish wistfully for things to go back to the good old days. When everything was swirling warm golden sunshine. Three, even four years ago.
I have been so distraught and just how wrong other people are. This has never struck me until now, but several people that are not myself are completely wrong about everything on all counts and every day I am amazed at their continued existence. Every three minutes I am reminded that some people harbour beliefs that are different from mine. I am astounded that the universe and reality itself does not untangle itself and slap them across the face for their stupidity. Surely they must realise that they are wrong? Surely it’s obvious how wrong they are. Don’t they understand that the world is ending and we need to work together to all believe in the same things? The right things? The things that I believe in? How great would the world be if it was just a bunch of me’s!
But all this was set aside by Viktor. Viktor is the carrier pigeon by the way. When I first sent you my letter Viktor returned in five minutes holding a red pencil in his beak. It was then that I realised he had read my letter and wanted me to make corrections. He jabbed his beak at words that needed changing and also various grammatical errors that I had made. He patiently waited while I crossed and corrected. When I was done, almost the entire letter I sent to you had been crossed out. You are currently reading the second draft, for which I must credit Viktor as co-author. You see, he changed the way I think quite profoundly.
After I had made Viktor’s corrections I was confused. I was staring blue letters massacred by red edits. “Why have you made me cut out everything!?” I cried hopelessly at Viktor. “I’m already pretty insecure about my writing and this isn’t helping!” I ran to my bedroom and buried my face in a pillow. What an rude and awful pigeon he was. I sobbed bitterly.
When I woke up in the evening I felt the gentle weight of a muscular wing on my head. It was Viktor. “What do you want?” I sulked. Viktor flew to the window and looked out. The bronze setting sun lit half his pigeon face. For the first time I noticed the scars that ran through his pigeon body. The stories and triumphs and failures he wore proudly. We sat quietly for some time. Finally he turned his head.
“I want to help you” he said in a surprisingly deep voice. He flew over at my feet.
“You can help me by delivering my letter” I said, still annoyed. Viktor shook his head. The steely look in his eyes took apart all my anger. He poured himself a glass of whisky and sat in an armchair by the corner. He told me his story.
“I have lived a long life, too long for a human, far too long for a pigeon. And in this life I have seen many things” he gestured to his scars as he drained his glass. “And for a long time I have remained silent, but now I must speak. So you will hear me.” I leaned at the edge of the bed, enraptured. The cold night air now entered the room and the space between us. The seasons were due for change.
“It is not that the world is ending. It is that you are at an age. There comes a point in every individual’s life where the reality of politics and the world and its people descends on them. It is never to their liking. How you are thinking, so have your parents and their parents before them. The only constant in human existence has been disdain of the state of the world and despair about the future. Everyone has always thoughts things were exceptionally bad in their time and the future was doomed.”
Viktor was only interrupted by my going to sleep. He woke me up again by a touch of his wing in a gentle punching motion. “Sorry” I said wiping the drool from my mouth. “Is there like a tl;dr version of what you’re saying or-“
“No” said Viktor curtly, lighting a cigarette. “Now you will listen to me completely.”
“Can we have…like…dinner? It’s just that I-“
“No” said Viktor again. There was command and authority in his voice that made me tremble slightly. I nodded in agreement. I was ready to listen. Maybe even ready to love.
Viktor cleared his throat and began again “The future was always doomed. And the one after that as well. The world has changed less than you think. Your understanding has changed more than it. There have always been other people. And they have always been wrong.”
“But they need to know they’re wrong!” I screeched. “And how is it not obvious to them how stupid they are!”
“Your faith in your correctness is the same faith they have in theirs” said Viktor. He stopped now and I noticed that he looked for the first time old and drained. His pigeon wrinkles spidered away from his tired eyes like the reaching branches of a barren tree. “Look, your education can lead to the same ideological pitfalls that illiteracy can. Sure you can tell people that they are wrong. But they need to be willing to change. They need to be willing to engage in discussion, as do you.”
“So how can I make that happen?” I asked.
“You cannot” said Viktor.
“But if they just read these books and thought about these things! Then they-“
“-would still believe that they are right. You are doomed to convince them and they are doomed to convince you, and no one is willing to be convinced.” said Viktor calmly. “The most painful thing you will realise is that everything you think has been thought before. All of your plans and philosophies and ideologies have been thought countless times already. You are not smart. Neither are the people who disagree with you.”
“But they’re barbarians!” I whined. “Also seriously I’m pretty hungry. Can I make some noodles or something?”
Viktor sighed loudly. “That’s going to ruin the dramatic pacing of what I’m saying, you see- you’ve already left the room. Nice.”
I drank the soupy instant noodles I had not completely cooked in one long chug. As I put down the bowl and wiped the noodles from my chin I noticed Viktor looking somewhat disturbed.
“This is how you eat normally?” he asked. I nodded while dunking my head in the sink. Running the water over my head got rid of that noodle head rush. I opened my customary six red bulls, generously offering one to Viktor, who declined.
“Can we continue our conversation?” he said, tapping his pigeon feet.
“Ugh. Fine. Where were we? I was saying…then you were saying…and then I said…and then…Oh yeah, But they’re Barbarians!’”
Viktor coughed into his wing. “Of course they are. Sometimes people are barbarians. Maybe you are a barbarian. You cannot tell what people think about you, everyone you know lies to you and you lie to yourself. Let us stay away from even trying to understand who you are.”
“Hey man” I said, crushing the third red bull can on my head. “I just want the world to be great and if-“
“The world has never been great.” said Viktor curtly. “It has been all right. Every couple of decades we are supposed to have some sort of war where everyone fights with everyone. Or someone enslaves a race of people or takes over a country or makes arbitrary decisions on borders or just kills several thousand people and piles them up in the street. We have always been doing this.”
“Well that was back in the day, man! Also I just noticed you talk! Most pigeons don’t talk right?” I burped and stuffed the red bull cans under my bed.
“No, it has been happening throughout, but you have been ignoring it. It is difficult to survive if you cannot ignore people suffering somewhere far away from you. Only when grim realities strike your immediate surroundings does your mind swing into panic. Everything was never okay, you were okay. And when you were okay, your parents thought the world was ending. That is how it works.”
“So I should listen to older people?” I asked, confused.
“Well yes and no. The problem is that knowledge does not increase linearly with time. Wisdom is normally distributed over age. You are dumb, you are smart, you are dumb again. The point at which this happens is different for everyone. You are getting to be smart now. You not there yet, but you are getting there.”
Viktor was beginning to annoy me. I did not like complex long-winded preaching, post Redbull. It was taking all my effort to keep my teeth from chattering with energy. I was beginning to sweat something that looked like foam. “Why should I listen to you?” I said to Viktor, finally.
“Because suck my dick that’s why” said Viktor.
“Harsh” I conceded. “But all right, I’m listening to you. So…what do I do?”
“Nothing” said Viktor quietly. “There is nothing you can do.”
“Wow you’re very negative” I said. “Can you at least look at what he posted?” I said taking out my phone and showing your post to Viktor.
Viktor nodded knowledgeably. “Of course…Wow, you said ‘Perhaps your body needs your brain more than the army needs your support’? That’s harsh” whistled Viktor.
“I was quite proud of that” I said quietly.
We sat for many hours and watched the night become the day. As the time came at which the dew would have gathered if there had been grass anywhere near where I stay, Viktor spoke again.
“I hope you understand now that there is no point in sending this apology.” he said.
I nodded. “Can you still do it though? Because I…like…paid you.”
Viktor looked at me with pain in his eyes. “It seems that I have failed. Write your letter, I will take it to your friend. Then you will never see me -and you’ve left the room again.”
Anyway I hope you understand why this letter got to you so late. I know it wasn’t necessary to narrate all of this, but Viktor is pretty expensive and I thought I’d give him something hefty to carry besides the hammer. Also sorry for your window which he has most certainly broken if you’re reading this. I’m also sorry for thinking I was right and you were wrong. I realise now that what is most important is…I’m not sure actually. I was pretty buzzed with that all that Redbull and those noodles when he was talking. If Viktor hangs around in your house and gives you a lecture, tell him I said hi!