Once upon a time, I was the sort of person who liked nothing better than to delve into the esoteric mysteries of life. From “What really happened to Lord Lucan?” to “How on Earth could it possibly be that middle-aged women who have given birth to multiple children can have better bladder control than me?” My mind was forever delving, probing, exploring, nudging, snuggling up against, and tickling with a feather duster the universe’s most abstruse riddles and conundrums. No enigma was too abstruse or ephemeral for me to contemplate, especially over some high-grade sativa or a pitcher of salty margaritas.
That said, I have lately started to doubt whether there is any point to all the philosophical quests and questionings that we humans tend to undertake. “Where did I come from?”, “What is my purpose?”, “Is there a creator?”, “Where am I going after I die?”, “Who cares?” I used to think that when I got old I would have all the answers, or a lot of them. Now, I just want to not overthink things. Like Tennyson’s Lady of Shalot, I find I have become half sick of shadows, half sick of watching them dissolve into the early hours of the morning.
Sometimes I get too wrapped up inside my own head about my own problems, or someone else’s, or the world’s. And sometimes that head gets metaphorically stuck up my own ass. At times like those, my partner will often remind me to make a mental inventory of the times—the more recent the better—that have given me a sense of contentment, happiness, or even a fleeting burst of joy.
This morning, in the spirit of that exercise, I thought about a night out camping earlier this summer, watching fireflies and lying on a picnic bench looking up at a huge blue moon lighting up the canopy of trees. I thought about cooking dinner a couple of weeks ago at a friend’s house, chopping vegetables and garlic, and listening to David Bowie and Aretha Franklin. The way the blue flames of the gas burners danced, the way the candle smoke smelled and the Turkish lamps shone through bottles of oil and wine, throwing pools of coloured light on the wall. The way that life can feel rich and full, when you’re being serenaded by the Thin White Duke and the Queen of Soul.
A kiss, a laugh, a moment of slapstick. Sharing coffee and eggs in the morning. Watching late night television; episodes of X-Files, Fawlty Towers, and Columbo. The smell of hashish and cherry blossoms in a long ago garden on a distant coast. If there is a purpose to anything, or anything to hold onto at the end of the day, I’ll bet it’s those small incandescent moments that are worth the price of admission, despite all our lofty goals. Perhaps there is a way to carry them with us into the dark, where all the answers are revealed.