I’ve had an interesting week actually and if I were to count blessings in an explicit way then they’ve been coming in thick and fast. The weekend was taken easy given a horrible virus I spent last week battling but managed a wonderful meal with friends on the Saturday night. Monday saw me back at work before going to a gig... on a school night! The Union fuses Thunder with Winterville and that has got to be pure rock joy (Luke Morley and Peter Shoulder together is just wow to the nth). A touch sleepily I put in a half day at the museum before driving to Bath to participate in the finals to be a food taster at the Bath and West Show. It was an incredible afternoon hosted at the Bertinet Kitchen with myself and the other four finalists sampling cider, cheese and bread. The honour of being the official taster went to an enigmatic young man called Max who I am sure will do a fantastic job.
What this means to me is that life on Earth is pretty damned good.
The boyfriend drew my attention to this article this week and what really stood out to me was the notion that heaven ‘is a history of subconscious human longings. Show me your heaven, and I'll show you what's lacking in your life.’ From thirsty desert folk to horny Muslims, heaven is essentially an avoidance tactic. If we focus on a future where our dreams can come true we can procrastinate through life rather than actually make changes. That the history of heaven is easily charted comes as no surprise but it is interesting nonetheless to see how it has been utilised. Like an opiate it deadens awareness of the here and now and soothes with stories of there being a trade off.
Religion propagates misery. I remember waiting for a friend in Durham city centre and an evangelist starting a conversation. A text arrived announcing my friend was running ten minutes late and so I decided to hear the woman out. After feigning an interest in my life she informed me that I didn’t love my fiancé because if I did I wouldn’t be condemning him to hell by living with him before marriage (love that this was my responsibility). While I experienced a fair degree of incredulity at the utter dementedness of the woman, I was also struck by a huge wash of sympathy – what must her life be like if she lives to spread such venom? Ignoring heaven for a moment, a comparison of our lives sees mine filled with joy and wonder at the world with a huge amount of love for the people around me whereas instead of seeing the world for what it is, she lives in the shadows of what it ought to be and is not and tries to pull people down to her level in the name of salvation. Now I’m possibly going about this all wrong and will one day be trying to negotiate with St Peter (and most likely failing and calling him a jumped up door Nazi) but it just doesn’t resonate that we’re meant to be miserable.
What then do I suggest the purpose of life on earth to be? In short, I don’t think there is one. I believe in fluke and good fortune seeing a chain of events kick starting evolution. I think we’re here to reproduce and then die and have no more purpose than a single celled organism. Oh and I think that finding that depressing is an inadequate reason for an imaginary friend to make you feel better. What I’d like is for more people to confront that depressing notion and truly examine it because actually it is liberating and a source of joy. I’m somewhat rare in being a jolly nihilist but I genuinely see a life without reason or purpose to be a completely blank slate to choreograph our dreams upon. We can do anything!*
Ask yourself what you’d do if there were no limitations upon you. Now note what those limitations are; the majority of them are of your own making. Ok so if you’re obese you’re unlikely to make it as a ballerina but why must you ‘make it’? I am an artist. I write, I take photographs and I create. I’m not really recognised for any of these things but I do them anyway. My successes are a bonus. I often refer to the boyfriend as my rock god. He’s not in a band but he has one of the most devoted groupies on the planet; the validation that comes with platinum record sales would no doubt be nice but it’s not necessary.
I’m happy because I choose to be. I choose not to take life too seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.
* For the sake of everyone having the greatest potential to explore their dreams, society is necessary and my ‘anything’ excludes such things as paedophilia.