I’m back, for the time being at least. When I first started this blog I had no real idea of what it would be, other than a space for me to vent any unedited thoughts that I felt worthy of more general attention. I guess lately I haven’t been very forthcoming. I feel trapped in my own skin, which as those of you who know me will know is not a particularly pleasant place to dwell, and any kind of artistic creativity has been lost in a well of emptiness. This is all a bit melodramatic of course: I think the easiest way to put is that I am lacking in inspiration and/or motivation. I’m hoping to try and pull myself out of this funk, although as to whether or not I’ll be successful, who knows.
After a conversation I had with a dear friend last night, coupled with the beautifully poignant title quote that I found lost in a mediocre work of fantasy, I’ve been wondering what the point of it all is, really. Which again, sounds far more melodramatic and depressing than it really is, but hey, I reserve my right to try and sound dark and mysterious. Even though I’m about as dark and mysterious as a reasonably well-raised middle class white guy can be. But I digress. As a pretty non-religious bloke, I’ve never really considered the possibility of an afterlife: certainly no concept put forward by any kind of current or historical faith/religion/belief system has ever seemed like a suitable answer to such a daunting question. I’ve always believed, more or less, that the time we have on this Earth is all the time we have. And, as some guy with a pointy hat and a big stick once said, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Whilst some may find this belief pretty scary, I find a strange sense of comfort in these words. For a start, it makes life a hell of a lot simpler. No need to worry about eternal judgement or past life/future life crap: simply decide what you as a person feel you should do with your life. I mean come on, is that not enough?! You can talk about evolution and the age of the Earth until you’re blue in the face but let’s face it, eighty or so years is a bloody long time. Certainly relative to our experience. I’m twenty, and the sheer amount I’ve experienced is apparently a quarter (approximately) of my life. That’s a hell of a lot left to go, if the first twenty years are anything to go by. I’m going to have enough of a problem figuring out what on earth I’m going to do in my earthly life without wrapping my head around eternity.
Side note: when discussing eternity (as you do), I always like to paraphrase Joyce’s description of it in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. In it, the reader is asked to imagine an enormous mountain of sand, made up of tiny grains and measuring a million miles in height, depth and breadth, being carried away one grain at a time by a sparrow, who comes to this mountain once every million years. And after each and every grain has been removed, one million years passing between each trip: why, then, eternity hasn’t even begun! As a species it’s a concept we struggle to get our heads around, given that, y’know, the longest someone has been alive is about 122 years and we’re talking about literal limitless time here. So yeah, that’s a bit of a mind fuck in its own right: just read Joyce and you’ll see what kind of mind produced this rather laboured but fairly adequate analogy. But returning to my point: it’s indeed possible to get bogged down in life and its endless complexities, and indeed if there is no afterlife, as I myself believe, what is the point, then, of this fleeting dance on a small rock in the Sol system? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. Who knows? We won’t find out until we get there what lies after our own personal human experiment, so honestly worrying about it too much isn’t going to do much good, in my opinion.
My advice to anyone struggling to cope with these kinds of thoughts, by which I was so often plagued in my younger years, and honestly still am now, is not to dwell on it. At the end of the day, you can’t change the big things. You are human, you are mortal, you are finite. One day you will die, your body will wither away, and slowly your presence in this world will fade. But that doesn’t mean you can’t shine brightly before you go. Every day we touch so many people, change so many lives, see so many things. Whether you dream of solving the world’s hunger problem or raising your own family, life is always worth trying. You regret more what you don’t do than what you do in life, so go out there and do it. It’s been said that what we do in life, echoes in eternity. Show eternity what you’re made of.
And hey, if it all goes wrong, you can always write about it on a irregularly updated blog.