HAJI MOHAMED DAWJEE: October, the hamster wheel of human existence
Sometimes, no matter how perfect your life is, no matter how grateful you are that you get to wake up where you want, next to who you want, and do what you love every day, no matter how happy your family unit is, or how satisfied you are with any possible accomplishments – from nearing the end of a new manuscript to just being able to do the dishes for the day - we, as the human race, get incredibly jaded, tired and just plain old bored of the day to day.
For me, and for many people I have spoken to, that day-to-day existentialism takes place annually in the month of October. This, the tenth month of the year, has been insufferable for me for as long as I can remember. It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, how much leave you’ve had during the course of the year, or the number of public holidays you have been able to take advantage of – all that is forgettable in October because all that you can remember daily, from the minute you open your eyes, to the second you close them, is that the year is almost done, but it isn’t and you are tired. You have written enough words, pushed enough paper, spent more time thinking about what to cook and eat daily in order to feed your family and you are out of ideas, out of energy and out of interest. You are tired. I am tired.
Octobers would almost be better if they were dead-end months. And what I mean by this is that they seem almost survivable to me if they were just stand- still, count-the-days-down months that were almost mundane. Redundant even. But they aren’t. They are always the busiest month of all. It’s like the universe wants to draw every last breath of your existence out of you and see you drag your own corpse to the finish line, battling every last bit of work before the end of the year.
Things tend to die down in November. But in October, things come alive. It’s like everyone remembers all the new items that need ticking off boxes. All the new deliverables. All the new projects and the all the old ones that still need signing off. And all we can do is go round and round the hamster wheel of human existence that is the month of October and just keep moving to get it all done.
Get up, find the time to sip a giant cup of “what the f&ck” – which is your only bit of joy for the day - drop the kid off at school, get back, tidy up, get to working, find a moment to exercise so that on top of everything else, you don’t hate your own body, cook, fetch the kid, feed the kid, put the kid to bed, spend time working on your relationship, and resort to bed to try and cash in your last brain cell on a book or some silly thing to watch, and then it all starts again. You’ve been doing this all year. But somehow, doing it October just seems punishingly harder.
Sure, we get a break. But Decembers are so hectic and so busy. It’s summer and it’s lovely. But there’s also Christmas, which is so stressful. Family obligations. A lot of planning and activities and very little rest. And people. People everywhere.
December deserves its own public holiday. Like before January, we should have an additional month’s worth of a holiday just to take a break and have some time to refresh ourselves from December.
The other day I had a conversation with a friend who guiltily admitted that she was just incredibly bored. That she felt stuck. That all around her on the internet she felt as though the world had moved on, people were doing other things, traveling and such. And that here we were, still on the hamster wheel of life. No restart button, No control-alt-delete. She said she felt anxious for absolutely no reason. Well, all the reasons above, but again, the guilt does not allow one to think the above is enough to feel guilty and as a result all you get is more anxiety.
“It’s October,” I said. “Blame October.”
It’s stressful, it’s unnecessary and it’s the month where you feel most conflicted because it seems like there is so much to look forward to once you have cleared the threshold of this month, but really, is there? Is there that much to look forward to?
Having said that, I guess I am obligated to say that I am grateful to have these problems. There are so many other ones we could have. So many others other people have to deal with. For many, every month is October. Every day of the year is their own personal October hell. But you know what, at the risk of sounding like a very selfish and entitled middle-class asshole – I do not have the energy, time or capacity to think about those people because… October. The witching wheel of time that turns good people into rubbish ones in a rather rubbish month.
Haji Mohamed Dawjee is a South African columnist, disruptor of the peace and the author of 'Sorry, Not Sorry: Experiences of a brown woman in a white South Africa'. Follow her on Twitter.