It’s not about winning, Floyd!
We didn’t quite get along in the beginning – Floyd and I. We had our little scrap together. When I came to the ward, I wasn’t yet allowed to carry a phone, while Floyd had an iPhone with earphones on all the time. Quite well dressed despite being in a hospital ward and too normal to be spending time with me in the same place. I kept my distance because I thought he subtly looks down on me and doesn’t respect me like an equal being.
He has black hairs with tanned skin, so initially I thought he must be mixed in spite of his well-spoken quintessentially posh London accent, though in fact he’s hundred precent from here, with a mum from Latin America. Dad is English.
We had respectful exchanges but never a proper chat until I saw him holding a book titled “How to win friends and influence people”. I instantly judged the book by its cover and told him off for reading a non-fiction. I said stop reading non-fiction, Floyd! Read fiction. To win friends, you need to read fiction. He asked why? I said because non-fiction is about facts, but fiction is full of lies compromising a bigger truth. To win friends, or love, you need to be truthful to the ultimate extent.
Floyd disagreed. He said winning friends is about appreciation. You want to find friends who you appreciate and that appreciate you back. I asked, what is missing in your life, Floyd? He said, I don’t have friends, I’ve never fallen in love.
Floyd turned out to have been an international hopeful to become a key mountain climber. I mean an international sportsman. He was in Team Tribune. Tribune signed him up as a team member if he accepted to participate in their sports enhancement scheme which is impossible to detect but ultimately illegal. Well, at the end, they screwed him up. His biological passport didn’t match at the end and he wasn’t allowed to climb up the Everest not to screw up the whole team even though he was always touted as the overall winner. He left sports at the age of 25 “due to personal reasons”. Anyways, he never reached the climax, he never reached the peak, he never won. They fucked him up. He said, I did it to myself – “we always have choice”. I said you were vulnerable at that age.
I said Floyd, it’s not about winning. It’s about the journey. You go up the mountain – imagine you’ve reached the top, what’s there? Nothing. The view from Hampstead Parliament Hill is better than the Everest, isn’t it? They deceive you, to think that it’s about winning. He took me to the ward’s gym, where a quote from Vince Lombardi was inscribed on the wall. “Winning means you’re willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else.”
I said, Floyd, that’s exactly your problem. You’re mixing fact and fiction. Lombardi’s quote is about winning in a fictional world, you reach the top of the Everest, but nothing is there, so you have to pretend you have actually seen something amazing. Love is a mixture of both, it’s both fact and fiction. Love is not about winning, Floyd, I said – at least according to my philosophy. Love is about losing. Losing yourself. Winning is about yourself, losing is about allowing someone else to win. That’s the primary difference.
Floyd said he needed to sleep over our conversation. In the morning, Floyd said he dreamt of falling in love with a Persian girl who was teaching him how to fly. He said “but Persian is finished, isn’t it?” It’s Iran, now, I said. I said well, Persian isn’t finished, but we don’t call it Persia anymore. Iran is a more inclusive term. Not all Iranians are Persians. But we still speak the Persian language, but Iran is actually a better name than Persia, I said – it’s more inclusive.
I told Floyd in the morning that you can compare love with slavery. When someone falls in love with you, they willingly become your slave, but the key to their freedom is ultimately in your hands regardless of how you feel about them. So you can’t just ignore them and say oh, I don’t love them back, so fuck it. I said because the key to their freedom is in your hands, you have responsibility for them. I said Romain Rolland said either in Jean Christophe or L’âme Enchantée that “sentiments are the most important things that we have”, but I said Dostoyvskey also said that “we’re responsible for other people’s feelings”, because we may have no feelings for them – those who fall for us – but the key to their freedom is in our hands. We have to set them free, even if we don’t love them.
I said loving someone unrequitedly is like a butterfly circling a glowing candle – it wants to get closer to the light, but the closer it gets, the more difficult it becomes. Its wings gets burnt, but it can’t help it. Love is complicated, you can hardly escape the candle. The candle is there, the butterfly is dancing. But it’s a dangerous dance, it can be the dance of its death. “The third one threw himself into the heart of the flame and was consumed,” I recounted.
(This is a fictional diary written by me while being in hospital. Any resemblance to people in real life is merely a coincidence.)