In Dreams Awake

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.

(Henry David Thoreau)

Friday, 16 February 2018

Before and After

 Life's a funny old thing, y'know.

 There are people who want to live forever. I don't really understand that. Even in forever there will be something you didn't see, and anyway your regrets will pile up and pile up and maybe in the end choke you. In any case, if the old never die, what jobs will the young people do? How will they get a job at a physics department or shoe shop if the people who have those jobs never retire?

 Immortality means stasis. Nothing changing, nothing new. I think people take risks because they know their time is limited anyway .Even if you die, it's only popping off a bit earlier. But if you have forever in your sights,well now... why take a risk? Why go near a road if you might be run down, or board a plane that might crash? Immortality just means you don't die of natural causes. It doesn't make you immune to bombs or bullets.

 On the other hand (and how many lunatic ideas started with "On the other hand", do you think?) there's so much I want to see. I long to walk on Mars. Did you know the sky there is pink? I want to see my daughters get married and have kids, or become artists or activists or thinkers. Or serve coffee at Starbuck's, if that's what they want to do. I want to see Liverpool win the league title again. So many things, and I won't see them all. (Especially Liverpool... sigh) Life flits by like blown leaves, every leaf a year, and suddenly you're on the edge of fifty and wondering how the bloody hell you got there.

 But it's strange, because I like the different perspectives I've had as I've grown older. I've learned not to be certain of things, because much of what I once thought was obvious and clear turns out to be shades of grey. I've found that experience (and maybe a little wisdom) are better friends than energy and hot blood. I like myself, too. That took some learning, and a lot of forgiving myself for mistakes made and hurts done to others. I think I can face that final curtain, when it comes, with a little bit of a smile.

I'm not afraid to die. What matters is the life lived, not the avoidance of death. I want to teach my daughters what I can, and send them out into the world confident and brave and loved, and ready to sort out their own shit. I want to love my wife, who's broken my life into Before and After like I'm two different men, one emerging from the shell of the other. And after a bit of these things, as much as I can deal with and life allows me, I'll die. That's no cause for sorrow. Not if we can say we lived our lives well.

 Pip pip.