It is a Monday and you find yourself wondering why you’re going to work. You might look around the train station, under- or overground, or maybe bus stop, or at the other drivers stuck in traffic like you, or maybe you walk to work, either way, there are several thoughts that may run through your head that, like the Camusian thought that everything is absurd, and so is going to work, you wonder not just why you’re going to work, but why everyone else is too.
Look at them. One shuffles feet to floor, shiny black leather loafers like opal reflecting the angry florescent of the Tesco he just walked past. The thought may run through your mind that his black shoes are perfect, untouched, virgin-like (sacrifice these shoes to the gods would more than likely allow you to achieve Nirvana), except for one slight scuff surfacing the out-facing left shoes, where he may have caught his foot climbing some concrete steps, and it’s sickening. This sick fuck scuffed his perfect shoes, and it’s unfortunate because you thought maybe he was the perfect man; look at him! In his suit and tie and, oh, he has an umbrella (looks like it might rain, though), he’s thought of everything. And he has a briefcase, black leather with a silver trim, my god! But that scuff on his shoe makes you wonder, just makes you wonder, why – why why why why why – Why does it matter? Why does it even ma-
There’s a woman who looks glorious. She’s wearing a pencil skirt so tight she’s the shape of a violin. Her high heels go clop clop clop like a horse, and those shoes, too, are shiny – no scuffs – and you think maybe she is the perfect woman. But you doubt it. Something buzzing around your mind makes you think maybe, just maybe, she’s not perfect, that she’s flawed like everyone else, even though it looks as though she wants to come across as perfect. But you wish she was.
You are not perfect, you think, even though you think you are.
You’re going to work now. You become angry, increasingly angry at the thought that you’re wasting your time. You think that maybe there’s a chance this man or this woman could instil a kind of perfection in you, that you could reach a state resembling Nirvana, whatever it is, that you could no longer work, and everyone would no longer work, and you would all consciously choose to do that one thing you wanted to do with your life. Life? What? What are you talking about?
You go to work.
The mayfly goes to work. It must be after sunset in June, and the sky is warm and the field sings and the water from a river shooshes drunkenly, and the heavy atmosphere causes a great sexuality to these flies, the rhithrogena germanica, probably.
I’ve never seen a mayfly wear a tie. Carry a suitcase. Wear a shirt or a pencil skirt. I’ve never seen a mayfly go to work and clock in and feel uncomfortable in social situations where they’d choose no to be ordinarily, and to sit at a desk and type, or whatever the job is, and do this for several hours for money, and go home tired and spend the money on bills. I’ve never seen a mayfly depressed or suffer from anxiety disorder. Nor have I seen a mayfly get up early in the morning and moan “I don’t want to go”, before getting out of bed, showering, getting dressed, eating store-brand cereal, and going to work.
I don’t think I’ve seen a mayfly look around and think “What the fuck am I doing?” Looking at the other mayflies and judge them. I don’t think I’ve seen a mayfly feel insecure, but if I have, then they hid it well. All mayflies feel insecure sometimes. No mayfly is perfect.
Anyway, the mayfly will spend most of it’s life (now bear in mind that a mayfly doesn’t live for very long, and, in most cases, will live for just 24 hours, yes, just a day, a day to do whatever the fuck it wants to do, and it instinctively knows what it wants to do) dancing.
The male ones, at least, dance around in the sunset like some kind of stoned, final Glastonbury evening. The subimago risk being eaten, everything wants to eat them, so they dance away into the dusk.
In work, you find yourself typing something your boss told you to type. Or maybe you’re putting something on a shelf. Or maybe you’re giving change to a customer. Whatever it is, someone most likely told you to do it. And that’s okay, you suppose, because you’re getting paid to do it.
(Then you look up you’re bank balance and see you haven’t been paid yet, and you work out your monthly outgoings and try to figure out how much you’ve got left. You have some left over for the rest of the month, and you’ll probably spend it on alcohol, or on clothes, or something you like, but now you feel guilty spending it, since its all you have, so now you have a sense of guilt for going to work to get money to spend on something you like. You feel guilty for enjoying your life).
Margaret in the back pisses you off because you didn’t fill out the form properly and she was rude to you. Stephen undermined you, made you feel small, as if you’re a child. She didn’t acknowledge you when you said good morning to her. He made you feel like you didn’t belong. You feel sad now, because you feel like you don’t fit in, you question why you’re here, and, oh yeah, you have to work here, you know, for money.
A customer is rude. There’s nothing you can do about it.
When the male mayflies attract a female, they have to mate very soon, not just because the male will die within a day, but the female, they’ll be dead in five minutes.
Dolania americana burst from the eggs, mate and die. And that’s their life. And it’s not much, but the levels of self-doubt, boredom, and misery are so minute that it’s possible the mayflies just about make the most of what they have.
You come home from work depressed. You feel downtrodden. You might pass a river, where there’ll be thousands of dead mayflies who’ve lived and died like on a battlefield. But that doesn’t cross your mind. What does cross your mind, however, is the person who pushed in front of you while getting on or off the train, the person who walks too slow in front of you, and your level of frustration burns and simmers as you think of what you’ll eat when you get home.
© Michael Holloway