Diary of a Discontent
Diary of a Discontent
    Alexander Lurikov
    Smashwords Edition
    Copyright 2011 by Alexander Lurikov
Diary of a Discontent
    I’ve developed
a rather curious habit: when I pass people on the street I envision
what it would be like if they were to attack me. Yesterday, as I
was walking home at dusk, I saw a man approaching me on the
sidewalk. He was a bulky, shadowy fellow, with an umbrella held
firmly in both hands. As we passed each other, nearly brushing
shoulders, I had the sudden premonition that he was preparing an
assault. I imagined him halting his heavy steps, pivoting to face
me, and swinging his umbrella with alarming force to strike me on
my backside. This imaginary sequence played out with such clarity
in my mind that it was not until I had turned around and watched
the man recede into the gathering gloom that I felt safe.
    The recollection of this episode reminds me
of another. It was dusk again, that hazy time of day when every
sort of mischief seems permissible. I was walking home, and as I
crossed 15th Street and continued westward I noticed a hunched old
woman ahead of me on the sidewalk. She was slow, frail, and
probably half-blind. She took such tiny steps that for a moment I
was not certain if she was even moving. When I drew nearer and saw
her withered features hidden and exaggerated by the darkness, I was
filled with apprehension.
    “Just what is this old crone doing out on the
streets at such a late hour?” I wondered. There was only one answer
to this question: she was up to something wicked.
    I thought of all the ways in which an elderly
woman could inflict harm on a man like myself. They were few, but
particularly vile. Most likely she had a weapon concealed beneath
her billowy rags—a rusty blade or an ancient revolver. Of all the
ways to leave this world, being murdered by a rickety old trout
would certainly be the most humiliating. I couldn’t allow for this
possibility, so after passing her I swung around, half-crouched,
poised to defend myself in any way necessary. I must have looked
rather foolish, for the old woman was hobbling away, an inch at a
time, neither wielding a weapon nor initiating an assault of any
other kind.
    The extroverts of this world insist on
treating the introverts as though we have some pitiable disease
that can and must be cured. Why is it that they are considered the
normal ones and we the sick? Apparently it has been decided that a
good human is a gregarious one, and to keep to oneself is to commit
a sin of deplorable perversion.
    How rare it is that a man speaks because he
actually has something to say; more often he opens his mouth only
to distract himself from the empty silence in his head. And, not
content with his own distraction, he finds it necessary to include
everyone else. Can’t I have my solitude, my peace? Absolutely not!
I must be a responsible citizen and revel in the clamor of
    But of course I cannot. Their language is
babble; their peals of laughter and wails of sorrow are no more
meaningful to me than the howlings of a wild animal. I hear, but I
cannot comprehend. But there is one thing that the extroverts, the
masses, should know: unlike them, I do not so insultingly insist on
“curing” their ways. No, my request is simple: I ask for nothing
more than to be left alone.
    When a particularly wise thought surfaces in
my mind, it is not uncommon for it to be accompanied, or followed
shortly thereafter, by a thought of that wisest of all men, that
sage among simpletons, Arthur Schopenhauer. And here I am reminded
of these words of his: A poet or philosopher
should have no fault to find with his age if it only permits him to
do his work undisturbed in his own corner, nor with his fate if the
corner granted him allows of his following his vocation without
having to think about other people .
    Well! What, then, am I to think of my age?
    A new tenant has moved into the building.
Whoever it is has taken the basement apartment that had

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