Sunday, April 02, 2006

Is this all there is? 

There’s a question that’s been nagging at me more and more lately; a constant muttering of voices in the background, taking every opportunity slyly to slip this question in front of me:

Is this all there is?

Is what all there is? What was I expecting instead? If truth be told, I think I still believed in a fairy godmother, one who one day would wave a magic wand and make everything all right; one who would tell me why I’m here and show me the way to fulfil that purpose.

Can it really have taken 51 years for the penny finally to drop that there are no fairy godmothers, no benign omniscience ready to reward good intentions and noble efforts?

I was playing – or attempting to play – through some of the music from Les Miserables on the piano this morning, then thumbing through the synopsis of the story, accompanied by photos from the stage show. Images of the haves and the have nots; riches and rags; noble intentions and utter depravity, and precious little in between. Yet this life as lived out in my immediate surroundings seems only to have the in-between-ness, with none of those extremes. Only blandness and equilibrium: few open wounds of suffering, but rarely any deep joy; little pain, but no relief; no crime but no forgiveness either; few angry words but even fewer reconciliations. Life lived out in a narrow zone of relative comfort, without extremes; all muted pastel shades with no primary colours.

Even thoughts become constrained to occupy a narrow band of conservatism and safety. No depths of despair, but no mountain-top highs either. I know that, on a global scale, I’m well off, so if I start to feel sorry for myself it’s not too hard to put a stop to that kind of train of thought, so that I don’t slide too far down the hill. Well, the part that keeps control doesn’t, anyway. But equally, I don’t get far up the hill either. Moments of inspiration lift me a little, but before long the momentum is lost, gravity takes over, and I’m back in this middle ground of vacuity.

Is this all there is?

Maybe; maybe not. But if there is more, which way is it? Up amongst the haves or down with the have nots?

And is the answer any different if we’re talking about spiritual haves and have nots, as opposed to the material? The answer, if there is one, is far from obvious.

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