Sunday, January 17, 2010

Layer 237 . . . The Meaning of Life

By tomorrow evening several more funerals will have moved through Torquay crematorium, and to the rest of the world nothing much will have changed. Life will go on much as before.

People will still be out walking in the winter sun on Torbay beaches; dogs will still go bounding after balls; children will still splash through pools on the undulating red sands.

Individual lives (and deaths) have very little significance unless they’re linked to other lives. The whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.

It’s like the individual atoms or even the cells within the human body, which on their own have no real meaning or significance. It’s only when they’re linked together harmoniously, communicating productively and positively, and working to some common purpose, that they take on any real importance or meaning.

A life well lived and a life that contributes in some way to other lives - that’s a life that’s worthy of remembrance and celebration. We remember those who not only create life but also help to sustain and enrich other lives, whether or not they’ve been involved in creation.

We might admire some of those who relentlessly pursue their own self-interests, and by so doing achieve material prosperity and possibly even celebrity. But do we celebrate their lives, or even remember them with any real affection? Not really. Not if they don’t simultaneously have a positive effect on the wellbeing of others.

Whereas the loss of those who shine light and warmth on others reduces the wellbeing of those others. A light goes out, a sun ceases to shine, and to some degree someone’s world becomes a darker and colder place.

We can live in the dark and the cold. We can survive. We can even prosper. But we remember the way it was when there was light, and warmth, and colour, and comfort.

And it reminds us of our responsibilities to be a source of light and warmth and comfort for others. And so we go on.

And as we continue to enjoy the light that shines from significant others in whose orbit we find ourselves, we provide light and warmth to those who orbit around us. Just as the Earth orbiting around the sun has its darkness illuminated by the light reflecting from the moon that orbits around the Earth.

We cannot thrive in isolation. We cannot exist in a vacuum; and there’s no point in existing in a vacuum.


Enough with the metaphors already.

At times like these it’s good that we have Ian Dury to listen to. Reasons to be Cheerful. I’m very glad the new film based on his life and work - Sex and Drugs and Rock N Roll - has had good reviews. The man was a genius. An explosion of light and warmth and energy, followed by a long slow burn from his throbbing nuclear heart. A true artist, if ever there was one. His life may be over, but his warmth, wit, energy and light live on in all his works. There ain’t half been some clever bastards - and he certainly was one.

I’m now considering “Fucking Ada” as the final piece of music at my own funeral. (I wonder what Ian had?) I’d like everyone to listen respectfully to the verses, and join in heartily with the choruses. The mad blasts of trumpet and saxophone in the instrumental break are perfect for reflecting on the real meaning of life.

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