If we listened hard enough, we could hear the rust growing over the screws and the bolts of our cages. It reminded me of noises from the Before: tablecloths being laid out on the dining room table, plates and glasses being dried, or the neighbor sweeping their alleyway after the waste collectors did their rounds. Faint TV laughter or a partner turning the pages of a book. Snoring. Small, subtle, the noises so soft, so gentle and noncommittal they were almost deafening.

We learned to listen because, after Before, there was no escaping where we had put ourselves. Sure, there was a lot of time, but having no back to go back to, there was only the unfamiliar present.

We thought our sadness would last forever, so we continued buying, consuming, watching, streaming, and suffocating ourselves in the refuse of materialism. The world had convinced itself that infinite choices were free will, but they were nothing more than further restrictions on our egos, something we believed we could not live without.

The holy hammering of capitalistic harmony had convinced us we would be somebody later, somebody after this purchase or retreat or supplement or subscription or work trip. Unsurprisingly, the pitch was a lie because the truth that we were always somebody was too difficult to accept.

Zoochosis develops in animals held captive in zoos and other forms of captivity. Typically characterized by stereotypical behaviors, which are often monotonous, obsessive, and repetitive actions, these behaviors are not displayed by animals in the wild and result from extreme sensory deprivation and unnatural conditions imposed by captivity.

Our state in the Before is obvious now: lovers ignoring each other to keep up to date on the newest trend; 2.6 million people signing up for crypto to have their irises scanned for a reward of about $60, that then fell 90%; no one able to read or think critically, only watch which is why we have to wonder if this is what we wanted, these cages we find ourselves in now. Was this what we wanted to keep us from dying instead of living?

Too late to know, too far to go, at least we still have our few hours in the sun and our day-to-day window.