At the End of the Day

Pretty much since blokes started prancing about on the stage, a dominant dramatic theme has been the love that seems to be written in the stars, but sadly not in any agenda for two people’s lives. And it almost always was blokes doing the prancing, by the way: long before Noel Coward sang Don’t put your daughter on the Stage, it was considered an outrage for any decent woman to be near such a place.

The most famous star-crossed play of ‘modern’ history is probably Romeo & Juliet, although more recently there was Running Bear and Little White Dove: trivia question – who sang the 1959 hit? My Catholic Aunt Mollie had a long affair with a Jewish tailor called Macovski, who was of course never allowed over the threshhold. This was a tragedy because he used to run up my suits, and you could not have met a nicer guy. Or a better tailor, already.

But these days, it is more often the complex circumstances of modern life that get in the way. A longstanding adman friend of mine met a girl half his age, and she wanted a family. She was the woman he’d waited for all his life, but he already had four grown up kids and didn’t feel able to dilute their inheritance or neglect their needs – so he finished it. I think he was wrong, but on the other hand I fully understand the point at which one realises one is just too old to put up with interrupted nights, school fees, and teenage dramas any more.

We’re all living longer, we’re all more mobile, we’re less tied by religious mores, and we’re more open to romantic possibilities on everything from Twitter to Facebook. I never cease to be amazed, when I look back to the times before any of that existed, at how many of my relationships with women were kicked off by a chance meeting, remark, situation or coincidence which – if you put them in a romantic novel – would have editors roaring with cynically disbelieving laughter. Truth really is stranger than fiction. A close friend of mine is deliriously happily married to a gorgeous Philipino lady, the news of which prompted a mutual friend of ours to ask over lunch if he’d bought her on the internet. My chum was, quite rightly, angered by this brainless remark, but the actual circumstances of how they met are far more interesting and circuitous than that….and infinitely more romantic.

A life is an odd series of segues from missed chances via unspoken desires through to gradual revelations that don’t hit home until the moment has passed.

I knew a girl – I was her boss – at a major advertising agency, with whom I felt an instinctive connection: but she was American, married to a rich banker, and I was married to a person I didn’t realise at the time was wrong for me. I dismissed all thoughts about her as a silly fantasy. But years later I discovered she returned the feelings. A now distant but once close friend met a girl on a weekend course who, as he put it “seemed put on this world to understand me, and vice versa”. He did nothing about it, and now sits grumpily in a dead relationship where money is the only thing binding the two of them together. The collective sadness of all this is amazing when you think one could probably multiply it by two billion on Planet Earth as a whole.

But this is the really odd thing about lost love: here we are, little specks of life-dust on a bigger lump of grit created as a result of its capture by a bigger cloud of white-hot gases. These clouds sit in much bigger swirls called constellations along with millions of other small clouds and orbiting grits. And quadrillions of these constellations twinkle away in our night sky, allegedly going on forever to make up an infinite Universe. Yet somehow, the human ego seems so self-important, it writes enduring plays about the emotion of loss, of serendipity, of tragedy, and of diverging life courses.

Except that I’m no longer convinced (or even prepared to accept) that all of this is merely the residue of reproductive desire involving one sub-atomic species. A great deal of the mind-boggling size thing, quantum physics suggests, is unreal. All things are connected, and separation is an illusion. I was sitting at one end of the pool this evening, kicking a leg idly in the water. Within seconds that action had changed the molecular arrangement of the water via waves. Waves we don’t yet understand allow spinning electrons light years apart to respond instantly (and appear to be in two places at once) when really, their separation is perception, not reality.

What is reality? For me, I suppose it’s that part of existence to which our five senses have access: we can see, hear, touch, taste and smell reality…but we can’t do any of those things when it comes to the past or future. In those cases, we have only a once-removed memory of guilt about the past – which in turn feeds anxiety about the future. This is what Tolle is on about when he stresses the importance of Now as being true Reality, because in Now there is no Time….yet another element of our perception which, physicists suggest, is an invention.

So then, Time and Space are illusions.

If you think about it, they’d have to be: infinity is an expression taken to mean ‘endless’. But endless doesn’t really mean zillions of years, it means something that has neither beginning nor end. We tend to see it in terms of ‘forever’, but ‘timeless’ means, literally, no Time exists. And as for infinite size or distance, well – they too are inventions of an interpretive mind. Spinning electrons aren’t in two places at once: it’s just the same electron mischievously appearing in two places on an imaginary Time/Space continuum. The continuum is an illusion: the infinite Universe of which we hear so much might ‘in reality’ be one atom with three dimensions.

Does this mean that lost loves and blighted lives are therefore just as important as they seem to us at the time? I think that yes, they might well be. I am an existentialist, in that I do believe we have the power to be free in making our own choices independently of others and can develop our own “self” through such choices. We can make our own meaning of life and live up to our own values without worrying too much about all those billions of light year distances and zillions of physical year evolutionary processes, because neither are real.

The bottom line is to try and be authentic, not fake. Being true to yourself is the only way to be genuine. Asking others to love you for who you are – and getting it – is the ultimate existential triumph. I’ve wasted far too much off my life trying to impress people with my potential, when really doing so is just a form of human futures trading. But the Past cannot be regained, and the future cannot be ordained

If I could have my life over again, I suspect I’d be an Existentialist Life Coach. But by far my biggest and most demanding client would be me.

26 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. Ah sweet profundity – where art thou now?
    And so to bed Zebedee.
    Where’s that last good night scotch?
    G’night.

  2. John, nice article, it is Filipino not Philipino, I married a Filipino 20 years my junior, met over the garden fence, romantic or not? been happy for near on twenty years now…..life is good

  3. On second thought I want to try to say something about you John (not touching your thoughts on the post -are too good ) but overall about your posts.There is a world out there with wars , budgets,bombings,vast dimensions of wealth and greed and ambition and corruption and lies and crime and perversion and you write about all these and more.But then some days there is “at the end of the day” and has the same feeling like the music or a novel engenders , a feeling for appreciation for “smaller” things .May be termed katabasis , a going down. It should be dignified with a special name because it might be one of the most significant and valuable movements of consciousness that I wish we could all achieve more often. It is to come to an ecstatic kind of self-awareness.In the moment of katabasis we come down from the plateau of the noisy day with all its troubles , we recognize the fragility and loneliness of our existence and from here we see clearly just how much we really need ( like the emerging melody) the tenderness of another person.Of course katabasis is short in time , would be unbearable otherwise, but it awakens a deeper respect and need for love.it helps us recover from things that undermine love.Hope you soon find all you need.There is someone out there frantically looking for you .

  4. Too much of this world is taken up with an obsessive compulsive consumerism that people simply have lost the ability to take stock of what they already have inside them. How often have you seen someone stop to smell a rose? Watch a pair of butterflies as they dance in the summer sun? Or comment on the beauty of the blackbird’s evening song? The poetry has gone, and some are swept along with a ‘follow the crowd’ mentality, striving for the latest ‘hip’ consumer product or power fix. In doing so, they miss out on what is important in life…. and real…..
    I have been following your Blog for the last few months and am captivated by the eloquence of your writings. You write with a passion that escapes most, and sometimes a tenderness that speaks volumes.

  5. Loved the article. I just read bits of it to my wife. As she left to get the early train she announced that this lttle speck (meaning her) was going to work. She then asked me if she was high spec or low spec. High spec I replied. As another poster above said there are bombs and budgets and it’s easy to get bogged down. My wife and I met via an internet dating website ten years ago and are blissfully happy.

    Anyway I just wanted to say thanks and to wish you good luck.

  6. Met a girl who said she was from an obscure place in California. I said try me. Turned out my grand parents lived there.

    I wasted two years of my life discovering that my inamorata was a psychopath.

    So it goes…….

    • The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
      What might have been always seems more attractive.
      What if….. Maybe I could have…….. I should have…….

      Regrets, I’ve had a few
      But then again, too few to mention
      I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
      I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
      And more, much more than this, I did it my way

      BillK

  7. Trouble is that to be authentic you have to be true to yourself, and the self we know is just the one created from the past, not who we are at deeper layers. And the deeper layers lie beyond thinking, where insights come from. That is why stilling the mind is and always has been the route to receiving the truth of our being. We can then love others to the degree we allow ourselves to love ourselves.

  8. Nice piece.

    If I could have my life over again, eh? Never say never!

    By coincidence (if you believe in such things), I am reading the books of Dr Edith Fiore right now. If you have not heard of her, she’s a now-retired therapeutic psychologist who came to prominence in the 70s and 80s through her work on past life regression and spirit possession – thought provoking is an understatement.

    • Ultra909
      A new host sorry house to possess,i maybe needing a new one soon must keep a look out for what’s due on the market
      There are no illusions just lack of understanding
      Chances not taken always leave us feeling unfulfilled,few are contented enough with their lot

  9. hmmmm….well – I reckon that one sees a chance of an alternative relationship – this person really understands me, we have a connection, yada yada – but this is just the cave-man brain kicking in.

    All relationships are chance meetings – hormones kick-in, families ensue and we do our best to make it work. Thats it.

  10. “You are not IN the universe, you ARE the universe, an intrinsic part of it. Ultimately you are not a person, but a focal point where the universe is becoming conscious of itself. What an amazing miracle.”
    ― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

  11. Nice!… It reminded me of Either/Or by Kierkegaard.
    He says something like ….at a certain point the Captain must put the helm down and come about.
    ……..meaning the ability to change course is what makes us human.

    Good writing John

  12. ‘Be true to thyself,
    For it follows as the night the day,
    Thou canst not then be false to any man’
    Good luck in your search, John. We’re all looking for something, & we go on looking until we turn our toes up.

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