Saturday, September 10, 2011


I was about six when I told my mother, with subdued distress, that I didn't want to die but neither did I want to live forever.

It's my earliest memory of anxiety. Having become aware of the implications of an unstoppable clock, the struggle between holding on and moving on played out for the first time in a mind that wasn't prepared for it.

Seven years later, when my parents bought me the dog I'd been promised for my eighth birthday, my excitement quickly turned to anxiety. Where any ordinary kid would have been straight out into the backyard playing with and getting to know their new pet, I was consumed with thoughts about how I was that I was going to get attached to this dog and someday it was going to die, which would hurt me.

The only certainty when something begins is that it will end.

Yesterday was the end of an era, finishing up at a job and with people who have been at the centre of my life for five and a half years; yet a job I've been trying to get away from for almost two years. Through a long and frustrating job search the thought of moving on was a dream that felt like it would never be realised. Now the time has come it is, of course, a little sad. That's life.

Carrying a healthy dose of narcissism, I always liked the idea of watching my own funeral. The ultimate celebration of you - where everyone dwells on the nice things and says the words they never did while you were around.

I found this farewell flattering but a little over-the-top and drawn-out. In hindsight, I'd prefer to have said a few quick, quiet goodbyes to the important people and sneaking off stage would have been nice, as opposed to many farewell conversations with people I'm unlikely to ever see again. It's imperative to have the future potential of contact to make a goodbye easier; it's difficult to say to someone you like 'So, all the best with the rest of your life'.

So vague plans are made with the people that matter, and illusionary plans alluded to to others as you say 'Seeya 'round' (i.e. it's been great, but...). And, of course, there are those with whom it's just easier to avoid and move on altogether.

After five and a half years it was almost a bit of a shock that it's now over, and a stark reminder of the ever-changing nature of life. I was a little melancholy during the week, not helped by reading about Albert Camus, but while it's the end of an era it's not as dramatic as all that.

Sure, everything ends. The only certainty with a beginning is the unavoidable ending. Everything you do will come to an end, every person you ever know you will someday say goodbye to, or miss the opportunity. This past week has made me think how horrible it must be to know you're dying and having to say real goodbyes.

It's easy to be nihilistic and question the meaning of things in this state of mind, but whether you believe in fate, reincarnation, an afterlife or a dead-end road, it's the moment that matters. Even Camus was a big football fan, a superficial interest that really has little meaning but can bring great joy.

Everything passes, one day all will be gone, in the end life is a lonely, individual experience; but why get caught up in all that when it just distracts from the beauty of the moment. Memories, experiences and relationships maketh the man (and woman). The moment is all there ever is - enjoy it, be immersed in it, and allow yourself to let go when the time comes.

The dog is fifteen now, a little less energetic but still running around. I'll keep in touch, at least for a while, with a few people from the job who are worth having in my life. I will take many learnings and good experiences with me, and move on to a new, exciting phase of life.

No comments:

Post a Comment