At the End of the Day

A reality cheque is something one doesn’t want to write because of the costs involved; but it is something that has to be written. It very rarely involves money, and yet it nearly always concerns profound feelings. If it doesn’t do that, there’s no point in writing the cheque in the first place.

Sometimes, life feels so perfect – if only during a brief respite – with another human being, we fall in love with that time – and remember it as being only about the person. Every now and then, that’s accurate: a special partner paints the hours spent together an unforgettable colour, and the two are genuinely inseparable. At other times, it is the hues of nature and the warmth of the sun, the cool blue sea and the other stars at night, that really make it special: the holiday romance ends with the holiday, and we mistake the sensory atmosphere for emotional depth. We get back home, and wonder what it was all about.

Either way, reality intervenes sooner rather than later. The everyday demands of life reassert themselves, our goals take on their old importance, and the romantic perfection of the respite is ruthlessly challenged by the dictates and deadlines of our material aspirations and families. The wrestling desperation of a man or woman trying to come to terms with this has been the subject of many books, plays and films; but the characters in such art forms only rarely reflect the true struggle there will always be between  life objectives, and the objects of our passion. For the real live person experiencing such feelings, the tug of war between the idyll and the treadmill can never be replicated by a mere character. True desire that transcends lust is stronger than any fiction.

In this sense – be the imperative a factory job, a career aim, or an exploration at the edge of endurance – we are all captives in a self-assembly prison. We have things we must achieve now, and they cannot be realised by making good our escape. The urgent insists on coming before the important. Indeed, if we are scrupulously honest, the urgent sometimes turns out to have been the important after all. A woman may give up an acting career she found compulsive, and discover that her family becomes a far more real and fulfilling alternative. A man can walk away from a vital career qualification, and find tranquility in the task of site managing and helping to build his own house….or looking after a baby.

Today, we are all of us more acutely aware than ever of the range of opportunities available to us. Tomorrow – especially in the current global economic environment – those experiences and achievements may have gone forever. But ultimately, the greatest wellbeing, and the most calming tranquility, is to be found in what two people can derive from each other: the new learning, the shared laughter, the old memories and the timeless humour. Brightly-coloured but false flags can lead to a winning post of Pyrrhic victory, swiftly followed by loneliness and frustration. We don a plastic crown, and never gain the kingdom.

The reality cheque is usually written by the seeker after trust, companionship, shared experience and truth. It is made out to the person still as yet in search of prizes, plaudits, podiums and perfection. All of these things appeal to us at various times of our lives, but the tragedy is that all too often, two people’s needs are out of sync. Each is asked to choose, and neither wishes to constrain the other. The racing driver and his wife, the politician and his children, the mistress and the husband, the passionate son and the cold mother. We’ve either been there, or know those who have. And we all know those who have written the reality cheque, only to have it returned, torn in half.

 

 

31 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. A touching piece that could only have been written by someone walking the walk……. and full of insights that I have felt myself, but could not have put so eloquently.

  2. Oustanding, Jon. Beautifully, thoughtfully written and full of wisdom that age and experience brings. I love your blog writing, but this piece, personally, for me, is the best you’ve ever written. There will be many many of us out there that this will resonate with, very deeply.

  3. Forgive me, John .. but I am reminded of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia:

    “Such is the common process of marriage. A youth and maiden, meeting by chance or brought together by artifice, exchange glances, reciprocate civilities, go home and dream of one another. Having little to divert attention or diversify thought, they find themselves uneasy when they are apart, and therefore conclude that they shall be happy together. They marry, and discover what nothing but voluntary blindness before had concealed; they wear out life in altercations, and charge Nature with cruelty”.

    And then I gaze at the Memsahib and realise I would be a lesser man without her …

  4. This piece of sentiment is very moving.
    Perhaps it demands sympathy, but to the more mature of us left in this world, I would call this recognition of reality ‘a mile post in the journey of life”, and a place to move forward from, which will allow one’s senses to receive more of what is happening in the bigger picture of LIFE in the round. We are born alone, and we will die alone.

  5. You are so right, John. It makes you wonder, though, when people want the same thing, why are so many people lonely and unloved?
    Thanks for all for the posts over the past few weeks, which I have read and enjoyed but not felt able to add to. Keep up the great work.

  6. You words are illuminated by life’s naked candle flame of truth. A flame that can burn as well as warm those who see it….those same individuals who are mostly caught, entranced by the shadows it makes dance around them, but will inevitably turn to see the truth for what it is.

    Beautiful. Thank you John.

  7. ‘We have things we must achieve now, and they cannot be realised by making good our escape. The urgent insists on coming before the important.’ Infuriatingly true. Perhaps I can stop beating myself about the head for quashing the muse. Yet this is unfulfilling. Some manage to make good the escape. Have any readers achieved this perhaps?

  8. Lovely piece. Very touching. All you need is Love, baby. Louis Armstrong. And who created Love? Look into your heart and you will see God.

  9. Hubby’s in bed with ‘flu, snow is thick on the ground, no one has been passed for days, even the dog seems depressed, I am downstairs trying to keep warm, & then I read this, & immediately felt better. Thankyou, JW.

  10. I found my life partner second time around four years ago at the ripe old age of 40 having, to date, led a pretty colourful life with a somewhat ‘portfolio’ career.

    When the pennies are few (often) and the path unsure (frequently) thinking about our fateful coming together is the one thing that brings a smile to my face, as well as keeping me warm at night.

  11. Dear John,
    I’m not sure i can enjoy your writing thinking what prompted it. I hope it’s just the weather. In any case i will save it in my little box of internet treasures.
    Thank you.

  12. Insightful and beautifully written John. The fact that you have sold your house too leads me to think you must be going through difficult personal times.
    I hope you find peace at the end of it.

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