‘When you’re always falling behind, all you get to see is the butt end of others’ progress.’
Wake: the trail one leaves in a body of water | Also: the trail one leaves behind as he or she or it proceeds across any surface.
Dictionarisms aside, a wake is a path that involves action and progress, a track occupied at its front end by the runner making it, at the back end by those on its trail. Inside this wake the chasers advance, feeling comfortable, happy not to have to carve out their own path. They feel secure and guided, some do anyway, at ease with the experience of riding coattails.
Others have a diametrically opposite experience. Trailing someone is not something they enjoy. It makes them feel like laggards, dispossessed and left behind, not in control of their destiny. The choices that affect their lives are not in their hands. They’ve surrendered everything to the trailblazer up front, living in his/her/its shadow. The forerunner pushes ahead, leaving them behind, making inroads while they sweat to catch up, to no avail.
It’s a tough position to be in, eating the dust of trailblazers, the fumes of wakemakers, the shit and piss that frontrunners excrete, the ooze and filth and waste associated with one’s progress, which the non-frontrunners get to breathe in, day in, day out.
With the wakemaker’s trail fresh in our minds, its effects spelled out for all to see, we are free to define Living Death as the act of breathing, eating and sucking up the active trail i.e. the wake of a more advanced life form, be it an organism, a group of organisms, an organization, a nation, or any intelligence and layout smart enough to move forward in ways that create a track for others to trail.
The truth is, those who make inroads, they do so at the risk of their own safety and welfare, risking their lives and longevity as they tread the wilderness, avant-garde style, but the air they breathe is at least clean. They often crack their skulls against a wall, or fall off the edge of the world and are never seen again, or get shot in the back, as pioneers tend to suffer, but they at least don’t get to advance in the wake of other people’s waste/refuse/discharges.
Those who choose to stay put, on the other hand, advancing in short, whimsical bursts, if that, trailing other people’s choices, are left to float in the marginal space of the same old world, enjoying the vistas left over for them, breathing in the air freshly spewed out of the frontrunner’s backside, which they have been staring at for so long and with such ignorance, they no longer register what’s going on: that they’re trailing an asshole.
Hard to swallow, I know. But people do it willingly, proudly even, calling it modesty, reserve, contention, zen. Self-important terms. They deem it a life choice, this state of being, taking it easy, letting others do the hard work. The path ahead, let someone else open it, we’ll just follow through, enjoy the benefits of other people’s sacrifice.
Indeed, but life is wicked. The price to pay for this setup? As described above, a big dollop of asshole from beginning to end.
Get it now, how it works?
Such is life. Brilliant and punishing to those who brave it, deceptive and choleric to those who waste it, almost vicious, siren-like, with a sharp sense of humor, reminding everyone that a little fuck-you irony is part of the process, keeping things interesting.
Tickled? Vexed? Watch this space for more.
From the collection of writings EON: THE ANGRY COMING OF AGE