My life as a novel

I’m very careful to maintain perspective on the events of my life. It’s easy to be carried away by the latest dramas. They can be all-consuming, and crowd out any other view. That’s natural, but it’s false also. As I have repeated here a thousand times before the wheel of life keeps on turning, until it doesn’t. You’re in this moment, but this moment will pass, and another take its place, and another, and another…

I admit there are times I feel a modicum of despair. I forget the wheel turns so intensely am I living in this moment. Like everyone I get caught up in my own travails. The mind grates, it considers and measures. I deceive myself into believing I am in limbo. For now I feel like I am not leading a true life. I feel like I am always scrambling back towards what my life was, or ‘should be’, or might be again. I feel on the periphery, waiting. I keep thinking things will come to a closure and I will transit from one state to another. That may be the case (though it’s taking it’s time about it), but in the meantime I continue to live. I may feel on the edge of things, but life doesn’t stop.

I don’t believe in self-pity. I don’t think anyone who knows me could ever accuse me of that. I don’t like making excuses, and I’m of the mind regardless that you have to treat the events of your life practically, rather than wallowing in the effects of them. That is do, act.

I’m also concerned with being honest, as much as I can be. That cuts both ways. It means I take responsibility for my actions, and my situation. I’ll appraise myself bluntly, though without judgement. There’s no point killing myself over something already done, though I seek to learn from it.

It means also that I’m square with the reality. I don’t want the post preceding this to be seen as self-indulgent whinging. This is the place I’m at, it is what it is. But this is what I feel too, quite naturally, and I won’t disown that trying to be the tough guy.

Things could be better. This is what I don’t have, this is what I miss. So it is, we’re open with it, and we deal with it.

I get asked sometimes how I manage (believe me my situation is a hundred times more difficult than I ever admit to here). Last week in response to that question I said I don’t dwell on things. I compared the process to that of a submarine with watertight compartments. When one floods I close the hatch on it. That doesn’t mean I ignore it. It means I accept what has happened, and accept that it is lost. My feet are still dry though, I survive, and so I focus on what I have still instead, and what I can do.

If I stopped to reflect on my life and all that I have lost I’d be a miserable man. Where’s the value in that?

That’s the answer for now, but the bigger truth is that I’m still alive and before me the journey goes on. I’m in the middle of the novel which is my life. I’m in the sticky chapter where you wonder how the protagonist will get through. There’s another 200 pages to come though, and so you know that he will.

One day when it’s your life you look back on it like it is a novel. You remember the time the ship sank leaving you floating alone in the ocean. The water is cold, the sky is dark, there seems little hope. The tension is great. Then you turn the page. Years later you recall that, how one moment all seemed lost, then in the next chapter a light appears and there on the horizon is the ship that will scoop you to safety.

That’s how it is I think. It’s not always happy endings, but there’s always the chance of it. Besides there is no true ending but the final one. Happy endings or unhappy, they lead to other beginnings. One chapter ends, another begins.

We speak of living in the moment, and there is great value in that – but there is wisdom too in looking beyond the moment, in recalling the long view. You’re not dead till you’re dead. While the wheel still turns anything can happen. Life goes on, one chapter ends, another begins, and how it finishes no-one knows.


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