The Kentish Man

I know not what to write, other than to write is to eat, to walk about, to write is to use the toilet. Biologists will explain, with textbook succinctness, the difference between egestion and excretion. For those who are not biologists – or those, like me, who maintained a healthy interest in biology in the hope that they might one day become a zoologist until, aged seventeen, they realised they needed a qualification in chemistry – egestion is undigested food that remains after digestion has occurred within an animal, and excretion – occurring in both plants and animals – is the organism’s metabolic waste being discharged. To elaborate, urine is excretion – the urea and certain amino acids (et al) generated by various bodily functions, filtered by the kidneys (in most vertebrates), diluted with water (also a by-product) and discharged via the urethra; and faeces is egestion – matter from which nutrients (and some metabolic waste and dead cells) could not be withdrawn or absorbed are egested via the anus. Carnivores possess a more efficient and effective digestive system than an herbivore; for if one were to analyse the residual energy of a carnivore’s faeces and that of an herbivore, the former’s would contain less expelled energy per unit intake than the latter’s.
    And so, I am compelled this Thursday evening, when all I want to do is write but know not what of, to consider whether writing is egestion or excretion.
    It must be one, because something can only be one thing or another. Writing must be egestion or excretion. More recently have I excreted than I have egested. When I excreted, I missed the bowl by some, and took to the drips with a few sheets of toilet paper. When I egested, I got all of it in the bowl and watched a game of chess on my phone.
  Whether I permit it or not, life happens to, at, on and around me. Much of my environment and the situations I find myself in are discarded by my consciousness before it has even had a chance to acknowledge them; but what remains, these sensory memorabilia, form solely what I might define as My Life. Phone conversations with my colleague or the sound of his infant son in the background, I remember quite clearly. What I bought at the supermarket. My mother moaning about my grandmother. The sight of my flowers dying in their beds on the windowsill. On their own, they mean very little, but enter through my eyes or my nose or my ears until I put them down here with the tendon, bone and nerve of my fingers. Indeed, much of what I cannot understand is recorded here and prior to this. Without intent, only impulse, I shit on the keyboard. It will be either accepted or rejected. Yet I am compelled to do so by nature itself.

  Some of my environment, my predicaments, relationships, moments in an exchange, are pored over. They may arise again & again within my erratic thoughts, while working, while washing dishes, while hanging clothes out to dry; too, they might appear in my dreams, only a strobed image of the games my brain plays at night. There might be several days spent picking apart a single incident until I can place myself, with utmost confidence, before a keyboard and begin to put things down. Conclusions have been made, the moment exhausted. Each word, every sentence, falls after another, in a single line going (western) left to right, top to bottom. It might be where peace is found. Everything I attempt to comprehend is recorded, past, present and future. With effort and energy, I urinate on the keyboard. It will sink into the soil. It will drain away. It is with great fortune I am compelled to do so, otherwise what kind of writer would I pretend to be?
    A tickle down the temple. I put my finger there. The temple is the place where suicide’s bullet enters. The temple is the flattest part of the human skull, is where I buried my doubt. I put a finger there and picked up a considerable drop of perspiration. It tasted sour, salty. My tongue recoiled although I realised something pleasant there, a charm undefined. I sipped the other temple. The back of my hand against the forehead. The heatwave had one more day, and I had many more.
    To calm myself down, I have been watching videos of a Kentish man building aquariums; elaborate and beautiful constructions of rock, gravel, wood and plants. When I am doing mindless tasks, I watch the Kentish man make aquariums. The videos are twenty to forty minutes. Sometimes his children make an appearance. In every video, for the last five minutes or so, he films the aquarium existing: fish, molluscs, crustaceans, vertebrates and invertebrates floating over a backdrop of ambient music. I drift away, and return. He has a video entitled The Ecosystem Bowl: AMAZING NO WATER CHANGE & No Filter Aquarium (Aquascape Tutorial). In this instance, it is a glass bowl filled with substrate, rock, plants, fish and crustaceans that coexist in balance, each absorbing the other’s waste as the water remains clear; egestion and excretion in harmony, each one feeding the other, and crystal-clear ripples. The video plays as I fold my laundry into piles on my bed. The window is as open as it can be. A breeze ruffles the edge of the curtains that have been drawn for five days. I feel it about my toes. It is cool. And I look up.