By Ahmed Latif
It was a soft summer afternoon, the one where the wind feels like a familiar kiss as you do the dishes after a big family feast held outside in the garden. That is to say, in a very long winded way, it was an hour to sunset and the temperature was 19 (Celsius of course because I am not a neanderthal) and there was a light breeze. It was the kind of afternoon that I imagine the corrupted youth of Athens longed for. The kind where they lounged around and spoke of all the things they saw and never understood. And the only person that told them the truth was Socrates.
He told them that no one else knows or understands any more than they did. He told young people an actual fact that everyone else is just as confused and that any assuredness or talking down to the disaffected youth is a facade comprised of insecurity and just a tad of jealousy because they possessed something Father Time had taken from others. The youth of Athens decided since nobody else knows anything either then they might as well not listen anyone, and especially the powers at be. In Athens, or any society for that matter, this is unacceptable and it is obviously the manifestation of a corrupted and morally derelict person.
On soft afternoons like this one, I like to sit back and relish the dying of daylight. It is the way anyone would want to go out, all soft, peaceful and outstandingly beautiful.
There was this Haitian woman that I met while working in New Orleans, who told me that when she dies she wants her death to be lighthearted, instead of a dark and difficult time for everyone. She wanted the people she cares about to allow themselves to be comforted by the good memories and not be troubled by the loss. She wanted them to throw a parade like a very macabre yet festive parade in the vain of Day of the Dead in Mexican culture.
I told her that your friends and family throwing a parade when you die sounds horrible. That they should have a little trouble with your loss. Everyone deserves a little trouble I told her. She taught me a lesson in this little thing called life. And always remember no matter what you do in life, it’s wrong unless a Haitian woman told you to do it. She told me that everyone deserves a little parade for all their troubles, not a little more trouble. She wanted her parade to be held right before she died. She called it the Parade de le Doom or something along those lines. I think of her and the Parade de le doom in these soft summer afternoons because I feel that this dying daylight got its parade. A few precious hours before sunset where everything is soft and cool and life feels like the other side of a pillow during a daytime nap on a pastel coloured day, those hours are the parade de le doom for the light.
Learning from this idea of the parade de le doom and relishing those unbothered soft afternoons, that’s how I conceived my personal distinct philosophical outlook. My outlook is that of a doormat. I believe that to be a doormat is to be just about the finest thing you can aspire to be. To get stepped on continuously and yet to continue to do your job is at worst admirable. But let us look closer and examine the life of an actual doormat. The doormat sits there outside your house, without chores or duties or responsibilities or worries or anxieties or even the ubiquitous sense of dread that we humans are known for. All the doormat has to do is get stepped on once in a while by people who really don’t mean any malice to it. That doesn’t sound so bad to me.
But wait, there’s more. The doormat does not have to deal with anxiety if it is not used often enough. It gets to relish the quiet hours and enjoy an outdoor view while we remain imprisoned indoors. The doormat, whether it is stepped on or not, never has its role or abilities questioned. No one has ever said ‘hey no one is stepping on that doormat, let’s get rid of it.’ That is not a likely scenario in the unbothered yet purposeful life of a doormat. Day in and day out, the doormat lies there, doing what it does, following its passion and doing so without any worries whatsoever. And most importantly, the doormat never harbours ill will to those that step on it or those that step over it or those that merely walk on by. The doormat by its very nature is not prone to ill-will. We, as humans, have so much to learn from doormats. That is why whenever I am asked what my spirit animal is, I always remark the doormat, it’s wild and free and unpretentious. And I’ll tell you one thing if, in another life, the doormat invited everything that walked on it, the humans, the animals, the insects, the rocks that rolled on by, and the leaves the wind blew, if they were all gathered in front of the doormat, it would not scorn them or curse them. The doormat would throw us all a parade, a little parade de le doom.
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