Some time ago I became consumed by stress so I quit my job and promised to finally work on my next book. But before finally working on my next book I travelled, and when I returned home from travelling I promised to finally work on my next book. But when I returned home from travelling I took on a part time job to pay my bills, and then with my spare time I promised to work on my next book. But then my days off became filled with temptation: days out with friends, days out shopping, days sorting out my taxes, days playing video games, days working on my Instagram drawings, days volunteering, days reading books: a sunset, a sunrise, sleeping for twelve hours, complaining in a jazz bar with a woman who was heartbroken—all while any savings I had rapidly eroded away. So I complained that I didn’t have the time or money to work on my next book.
“I just don’t have the time or money to work on my next book,” I whined to Vail as we sat on the floor of my balcony.
“We don’t have time for anything. If we’re lucky, we’ve only got, like, about sixty years left of life.”
I tried to sound wise: “If it weren’t for death, we wouldn’t appreciate life as much.” I scratched my arm. “I guess.”
“I get anxious thinking about it all.”
I leant forward. “Do people even read books anymore? Or do they listen to them?”
Vail’s eyes were closed but I knew she was awake. “What’s the best way to use up the life we’re given?”
“Everyone’s pressuring me to get married,” I sighed.
“Tell them to fuck off.”
We didn’t get drunk. Earlier that day I’d been crying to a woman I barely knew, saying, “I’m lost, I’m lost,” and she told me to drive to this place that helps people understand their purpose in life. I said, “Fine,” and I drove there, and the guy I met once wanted to be a Jesuit priest, but during his time in training he realised the Jesuits, who were supposedly taking a vow of poverty, were living more privileged lives than he did at home, so he quit.
He was an older chap, and he had a beard and a beautiful bible from the sixties. He stroked his beard. “What you want to do is try the nightly examen. Basically, at the end of the day, think about every feeling you had, and decipher where each feeling came from. Was there sadness? Why? Was there gladness? Why? Which parts of your day were full of life, which parts had nothing of it? And then thank God for everything else.”
He then walked me to a box where I was encouraged to make an optional seventy dollar donation.