It was just one of those days.
Today it has taken two hours to get out of bed and to get on the way.
January was “the least shit month” for ages. My motivation, productivity, focus and all the rest were the best for.
I felt exhausted, sad and my chest had started to hurt.
As I lay in bed surfing my iphone 5s jumping from reading interviews to connecting with friends around the world and watching videos forgot to compare my situation with Primo Levi.As I wondered around trying do decide what to have for lunch today I bumped into Nelson Mandela and Ghandi in the local cafe again.
We had the usual small talk and then they asked how I was, I stopped dead a bit – saying to these two – my head hurts and my iphone was working quite slow until I switched to wifi seemed beyond futile.”Ah here is Primo” said Nelson.I’d been waiting for this moment for years, ever since I visited Auschwitz in 2005 and was reading is book.
It seemed such a beautiful novelty to be able to read the book and see the camp at the same time, really I was acting like I had watched Star Wars and had gone to the set to sit in the directors chair with George Lucas written on it.
I sobered up very fast. I looked at the beds in the barracks and remembered reading how three people slept in one bed and how the person on the outside was least likely to make it through the night in winter. I recalled how all the Italians would meet up once a week and then stopped doing it as there were less and less of them each time so it became even more demoralising.
I am not sure how I’d cope in this situation and it is highly unlikely I’ll ever need to find out. My biggest issues are what web browser to use and how many people un-followed me on twitter.
“Mr Levi, honour to meet you” I said quietly.
“Primo, please!” he replied with more zest than I would have expected. “I can’t hang around long, 650 of us are being shifted from Italy to Aushwitz later on, if 20 of us make it back I’ll be amazed. Espresso please! And a new pot of tea for Mandela and Ghandi.”
I did not know what to say.
I realised how much I did not know, again – I was pretty confident of how much I did not know, yet also sure that I was capable.
It is very humbling to be sitting in a cafe with these three, I really wanted to be hanging out with them but did not know where to begin, if David Bowie had come and sat down with John Lennon I would have changed tables right away, I am in awe of them too – yet it would have been much easier to talk about music and these three than it would to be sat at the table.
Where was this going?
“You don’t look very happy Bernie, if you don’t mind me saying” ventured Ghandi.
“I suppose I am just struggling” I answered sheepishly.
“How do you struggle?” asked Ghandi – to be honest he sounded more like Yoda than Ghandi.
I heard Mandela whisper behind his hand to Levi, “I bet you he is going to say ‘be the change you want to see’ to Bernie” –
Ghandi turned on Mandela – “Knock it off Madiba! You know I never said that!”
“Aw come on my friend, we all get remembered for things we did not do and sometimes it adds to the legend – it is not a bad thing”
“It is when you bring it up every time we are out.”
“He’s right Madiba,” said Levi, “What Mahatma actually said was ‘“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”
“Did I?” asked a surprised Ghandi.
“Fanboy” retorted Mandela.
“What are you struggling with Bernie?” asked Ghandi in a gentle and concerned voice.
“How can we help? We are experts at being on the receiving end of genocide, oppression, apartheid, murder, torture and hanging out with Bono from U2” offered Mandela.
“Madiba please! Can you be serious for five minutes!”
“I’m depressed and sometimes it is hard” I whimper, well feel like I am whimpering. “Let me clarify that by saying I have spent ages not knowing what is going on “air quotes” and now feel I am making the connections in my head that mean I am moving in a better direction.”
“Did I ever mention the time I was in jail and had to smash up rocks?”
“Yes!” said Levi and Ghandi simultaneously.
“Sorry Bernie, I have not got anything wise to say, in fact these days it is easier to Google quotes from people like us. Everything is relative and context is everything, is what people usually say – how can I sit next to a child who is dying of cancer and tell her parents everything will be ok?” Mandela paused. “Do you like Spiderman Bernie?”
“Er, yes – #babybernie loves Spiderman – why do you ask?”
“With great power comes great responsibility” Mandela said in voice that made him sound like Will Farrell doing an impression of Clark Kent.
“We all have our own our own power and our own responsibility, we all need to make sacrifices for others. That sacrifice could vary from not having chips with your dinner or dying for your country and one seems very futile next to the other.” Mandela paused. He was looking more like Morgan Freeman now and had come over all wise – I was hooked. “What was I saying?”
“Great power and responsibility” whispered Levi.
“Thanks you Primo! Let me skip to the chase – I’ll spare you the Robben Island story – everything is more simple that it seems. As humans we need to make things very complex, isn’t that right Primo my friend?”
“Indeed, and even if we don’t think we are selfish we are. We get too emotional