All things in life must come to an end.
It’s a theme I have come to associate with great periods – leaving school, finishing college, graduating university. Other moments too – the shifting of friendships, the loss of family, the change of environment.
It’s not a bad thing (though it can be) but always, the world around is moving constantly, ending, and renewing. What we do one day is going to stop – but hopefully we can find something new.
This is something that means a great deal for me. For two and a half years my life has gone from “broke graduate” to “steady income for a mid 20’s guy in the nearest big city”. I have learned a great deal in the last two years.
And the thing I have learned is never to be still. Never be content with simply ticking the box and collecting the cheque. There is a part of the human spirit that is lost when your days are nine to five and you have forgotten your purpose – the journey to that desk, the efforts made to get that position and income.
But it happens, and looking around this office I can see it happening again and again. Something ends in people, and nothing is allowed to begin anew – their world becomes a dream, and every day is the same dream. The same beats, the same problems, the same solutions, the same patterns playing out in a confined space with suited individuals and fleeting contractors. Offices, their Three Letter Acronyms (TLAs), reports and constant rat racing drives me crazy. It’s harrowing how narrow our minds and thought processes become when we exist in this environment to support this environment.
But it’s comfy. So comfy. Your money comes in. You go into work, you tick your boxes, you go home, sit down on the sofa, put the telly on with a cup of tea and done. There’s your existence, comforting and chilled, with no really worry aside from whatever bitchy comment a colleague made about you behind your back (its usually the one being the most overtly friendly).
This is the world I inhabit – it serve a purpose, I’m sure. But it doesn’t serve the human spirit and doesn’t serve people. It serves an artificial mechanism, for propping up an artificial world we constructed. And it’s amazing we chose to do it.
Let me put it another way – we have a lifetime to live. In that space, we have to be bloody careful we don’t do something we resent. We live in interesting times – times where our basic needs are fulfilled (provided you were raised on the right side of a border with enough wealth behind you).
The trouble is, most folk just want to get by. I know this because this was what I wanted when I left university – to step away from the shadow of my folks and prove I can stand up in this world. I did that, and for a time, I was happy.
That happiness subsided rather quickly.
I never asked myself if the means mattered for the end. I never bothered to question what I would end up doing most of the time. In time I came to resent it – was this really it? I asked myself that question over the last year, over and over again. Was this all there was to modern living?
I could picture the entirety of my life before me – marriage, mortgage, kids, mid life crisis, learning to ride a motorcycle with a 40 year old beer gut, complaining about “back in my day” before losing my mind to dementia. After that it’s only forgetting your 2nd child’s name on your death bed left and all to your name will be a “40 years of service” trophy and photos of your 30th holiday to Salou.
I don’t fancy that. It feels small, reductionist even. It boils the world down to “moments you are in work” and “moments you aren’t in work but can’t risk going too out there”. People make it work though. They find that balance. They cherish their family, manage their home, find a place in this world.
I can’t. This isn’t my place. This isn’t where I belong, at least in my mind.
That feeling of “I don’t belong here” is pretty loud right now. I can’t face settling down, can’t face committing to that ideal just yet, not with this occupation, and not in this place. I have no notion of what human being I want to end up as. What I do know is that I definitely don’t find solace or happiness here.
Doubtless some clever half wit will tell me “that’s just the way it is”. They may be absolutely right, but they have no right to tell me to shut up and accept it because “That’s the way it is”. Even if I broke free and spent time doing this and that and ultimately coming to the same conclusion, surely they’d want me to arrive at that conclusion myself? Most likely they are one of the many misguided, bitter souls who came to my conclusion but pulled their wool over their own eyes to avoid facing it. in that failure, instead of accepting it they resent it, unable to break free, and unwilling to try.
That just leaves you hollow like nothing else.
There is a gap, in the human spirit, that I feel every now and then, that reminds me that something is wrong with your life. I never knew what it was, never knew how to fix it, never really wanted to know where it came from, but deep down, I think I always knew. I just didn’t want to face it.
Recent decisions in my life were made and that gap no longer exists. I haven’t felt it since I made my mind up. maybe that hollowing in the soul is actually knowing a goal, a pursuit of happiness that we forget in this world where keeping the roof over your head takes precedence over whether you’re content under it.
We’re too tied down to success, to position, to power and wealth. We’re too busy confusing the end as the reason we do things when it’s the path, the journey, the story that matters. In the end we’re all dust in the void and it’s up to us to find the reason to be, the reason to soar for ourselves. In this way we make our lives matter, not linger or waiting for it to come to us as if the world owes us. Our moments in time are what we value, not the bank account with X amount or the shiny car. That’s just a trophy, indicating what was earned in terms of a currency not in terms of life, or joy, or happiness. A car won’t fill that gap in the soul, nor will a three bedroom house.
And neither will running off away from it all, most likely. But damn, might as well try to find something. What’s the alternative?
Maybe we’ll find something, maybe it will be fruitless. Maybe it will be a disaster. But at least, no matter what happens, we tried to find a meaning for ourselves, a place for ourselves in this confusing and difficult world.
And that alone will make the journey worth it. Something ends, and something new begins.