It’s that time of year when I think about family and friends, failings and futures, fallings-out and forgiveness.
All the things that forever whirl and eddy in my mind and find focus at particular times in particular ways.
Those particles of hurt and the hate and love and lust and loss and longing that rotate around the atom that is my heart. Like rocks drifting in space, separate yet caught, bound by the same gravity that causes my breath, like the tides, to always go in and out.
At this time of year I always feel the keen smart of new hope replace the dull ache of past failings. I don’t doubt that I will be crushed again as I have been crushed before; laid low and marvelling at just how many tears it is possible for one man to cry in the same lifetime. But I know that this marvelling will pass because it has before and I hope that it will again the next time.
And so the action of typing these words is the same action as living my life; plotting and planning, checking, editing, erasing, hoping to finish the next sentence and then add the next and the next.
And as the paragraphs grow so I still know that the page of my life is still temporary, still shaping, evolving, ripe for more editing; my ambitious heart beating in time to the cursor that waits for my next words.
An old man wearing a ragged tweed suit and broken brogues stands at the side of Front Square. He has stood here every day for as long as anyone can remember. When Trinity College teemed with tourists this old man and his daily vigil was a noteworthy addition to the guided tour of the grounds. Now that the College, like the city, the country, and the world, is about to be finally destroyed this old man is no longer remarkable, is no longer anything. He is just someone else about to die like everyone else.
Since the very beginning it has always been considered that the most likely cause of the final downfall of the human race will be plague or flood or pestilence or virus or war or blast or heat or a final collision with a passing heavenly body. This is the sensible and serious narrative that has caused the world to always be wholly concerned with its own destruction.
The world could never have known that its absolute end would come about as the simple expression of a merely malevolent whim.
Amidst the chaos and the screaming and the suffering and the hatred and the horror and the hopelessness and the gunfire and the pleading and the taunting and the sheer futility of it all, a small child works alone in Front Square. A small child with a broken nose who works all day, using a household hammer to smash bricks until her arm burns and she cannot lift it any more. Spent and close to collapse, this small child then falls asleep near where I am laying. No one pays her any mind.
And yet existence can live alongside the very destruction of the same and though the notion of life here is clearly finite in its duration it is the same life that resolves to sing as the firing squad takes aim or signal eternal defiance with a shout from the scaffold and until there is no-one left to hear the song or hear the shout then there is always the hope that even songs and shouting might actually signal something more than simple silent resignation.
And even in the darkest darkness ever to have descended from way beyond on-high there are still voices to be heard. They may be single. They may be strangled. They may be shortened. But they are voices all the same.
Alternatively, these explorers might just leave this planet and cross it off as ‘dead’ on their maps and never wonder how Humanity lost its light. After all, the universe is scattered with countless stars all vying for the attention of anyone capable of exploring them.
So in this way, why should the Earth be any more privileged than any other dead rock floating in the endless void?
Imagine a list complied somewhere and then put before a committee and each item on the list was a planet being considered for further investigation.
When these same explorers broaden their archaeological investigations further from their landing site, they will probably be perplexed by the layers and layers of intertwined skeletons they will find surrounding every half-buried ruin for miles around. Skeletons that will likely take decades to separate so that the story of each single set of bones might be better understood.
Perhaps one of these skeletons will find itself painstakingly rebuilt one day in some distant museum somewhere and maybe the NotBeSpeak might somehow become aware of this rebuilding and be momentarily amused by the wondrous possibility that this very skeleton now on display might once have belonged to one of the humans charged with the destruction of a museum full of skeletons so lovingly rebuilt and displayed previously before they initiated Terminal Transit?
Once the pride of the city, Stephens Green Shopping Centre is now a festering pile of broken glass and looted shops. Pulled to the ground by a frenzied mob while shots were fired over their heads and water cannons set upon them, this site of civic consumerism now resembles a Renaissance painting depicting Hell in all its profane glory.
In millennia to come when brave explorers from another solar system land upon a non-responsive planet and start to look around they will find the Shopping Centre long-buried and over-grown and perhaps marvel at the possibility that a significant battle was fought at such an important-looking archaeological site.
The simple song of the NotBeSpeak is not something they will likely ever hear.
Carry on up to Stephens Green itself and the many ornamental ponds in this famous urban park that were once graced by ducks and swans and ringed by generations of families who set out to feed them are now simply silted with the by-products of Terminal Transit – corpses, broken shoes, empty prams, more corpses, crazed people who are trapped in the mud, splintered wood from ancient trees that stood tall but are now felled.
The end of the world is always a messy event and even once people no longer exist, the planet is still going to be cluttered for the rest of time.