Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Well, I was going to come on here about an hour ago and write a blog post based on that bit in Ecclesiastes that goes "Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless", because I'd had kind of a discouraging night and morning and have just been feeling like nothing I do has any lasting impact. That if I were to cease doing any of these things - my job, my marriage, my friendships, this blog - it wouldn't really matter, because we're all replaceable at the end of the day. You work, then retire, and someone else takes your position. You raise a child, they grow up, and you pass your mantle to their spouse, or their friends. You die, and somewhere, someone else is born. And to be sure, there is some mourning in all these things; people are sad when their favourite manager retires, newlyweds wish for their parents' wisdom and guidance once more, guests at a funeral may grieve for months afterwards. But ultimately, none of us does what we do perfectly - some of us don't even do it well! - and maybe it's for the greater good when we are replaced.

But then it was lunchtime.

I picked 14 peas from my soup, ate a little bowlful of plain lettuce leaves, and half an orange. And I remembered: You can stop eating. At this, if nothing else, you can excel, if you desire it. No-one else can do this for you.

And, in this trivial thing, I became irreplaceable, and it became non-trivial.

Tonight I'm meeting some of the friends I made last time I came to Dallas, for dinner. But that's ok; no longer does a dinner invitation carry the fear of "is there anything I'm allowed to eat here?" Rather, the question becomes "do I have to eat anything here?" And the answer to that, lovely ladies, is always no. You do not have to let a morsel pass your lips which you don't absolutely want.

This may be as meaningless as everything else we do. But for a time, it's liberating. And at the moment, that's enough.

1 comment:

grantthegeek said...

Actually, I think, you are not replaceable. Only you can be you. If you were not here, somehow the world would be smaller and less bright. From my perspective, everyone is a stitch in the tapestry of life. Take out one stitch, and the tapestry just won't look right.

But I do understand the feeling you are describing all too well. I get it, too. I haven't found a good answer, but I've found that I can sit it out, and it passes. Perhaps I'm finally getting some Zen after all. I try to monitor my thoughts, and when they start to steer down the dark path, I try to think about or do something else. Photography helps because you have to really focus. But some days it works and some days it doesn't.

I guess it's all about the 84th problem (http://www.examiner.com/buddhism-in-national/buddhist-parables-the-84th-problem).

Cheers for now.