Life begins on the other side of despair.Jean Paul Sartre
I don’t know about you but when I was younger my half awake nighttime thoughts usually turned to topics such as love, lust, likely adventures, work politics, motorbikes, football and then back effortlessly to lusty love. Simple days, simple thoughts.
Now, when I wake it’s usually to have a pee, and then the subsequent thoughts are to do with my prostate, why I pee so much and increasingly my approaching inevitable demise. Age is a social construct, it’s all in the mind, except it isn’t. Age reminds you every day that you have a one way ticket to obliteration. Scan the body, everything seems to be diminishing, the only consolation is that this is a shared experience. Well, if we are lucky that is. Some go well before the rot sets in. I’m one of the lucky ones; I get to experience the gradual decline in real time; great.
These thoughts then lead inexorably to the big one; the central dilemma ; I try to keep healthy, I keep learning, I’m trying to improve myself whilst at the same time i diminish and fade. If it were a boxing match you would just throw in the towel; unfair contest you would scream. But we keep going, the only real choice is how we choose to perceive this existential state of affairs. If I were a Buddhist, I could find some peace in seeing myself as part of some larger cycle of birth, death and rebirth. I would learn the futility of holding on to things that are impermanent. I could embrace the flux and transience of existence. Try to achieve any sense of permanence in a changing universe in a constant state of change and you invite suffering. Sounds great except I have lived in a culture that celebrates and elevates the individual. I am me, the centre of my universe, without me there is nothing. I’m stuck with that for the moment. I have strived to become, to be, to grow and for what?
So there we have it- my jolly nighttime thoughts. When I wake, the thoughts do change. I’m alive, there are lots of good experiences still to be had, people to meet, places to go. Live with the uncertainty, embrace the absurdity. Fight the unequal fight. Put two fingers up to death and it’s black shadow. With that in mind, and knowing that my goal is to try and die a healthy death (is that an oxymoron?) I shall embark on some more self improvement. I am going to tackle the big one- FOOD! Giving up drink seems easy in comparison. Losing some weight should help in a whole range of ways and in particular I’m hoping less weight= less sleep apnea, less pressure on the bladder and overall better sleep. With better sleep let’s hope those big existential thought clouds dissipate . Such is our existence, one minute wrestling with the BIG questions, the next thinking how we might lose a few pounds. I love it- the complete madness of it all.
So here goes. Goodbye croissants , hello fruit smoothie!