My Life of Happy Materialism in London

Photo by Joshua ChandlerPhoto by Joshua Chandler

When I was a young man, I began searching for the meaning of life. Along the way, I wrote a travel journal, a mix of prose and poetry, and labelled it Fool’s Odyssey.

My first real day began with an inhuman lack of sleep and a maliciously lingering fever. But I was anxious to squeeze the juice from life, so I took the Tube and bought a ticket for a West End show. I explored, ate Indian food for the first time, and went to the theatre!

I have no idea what the play was. Before the third act, about to enter vertical sleep, I left for my B&B, and fell into bed at 10. Amazingly, I slept better than any rock ever did, and awoke at 8, alert, feverless and famished–for everything.

At a Soho creperie, I guzzled coffee and planned the day ahead, and then, out the window, watched the sun…set. Wait–what?

“Excuse me, waiter. Why is the sun setting at 8:30?”

“It usually does at night, sir.”

“Night?”

“Take the wrong exit, did you? This is England, not Iceland.”

I’d slept for 22 hours! Still undaunted, I planned my wonderfully meaningless future.

For the world is in their hearts

and no one can know the meaning of life.

Abandon this search, I told myself.

For there is nothing better than that a man

Should rejoice in his accomplishments.*

Oh, those natty, woolen suits, they suited me well! I dreamed of owning a bunch, and of dating tight tee-shirted blondes like the ones in the Underground ads, and of having a fresh-squeezed, spit-clean Rolls-Royce in my colour-of-choice, and of being civilized and drinking gin. I’d stop searching and let my life begin! I’d want what I wanted, and be as wanton as they come.

And so it began, this vision of want and of have and of get,

To ravel itself around my brain.

I’d poked about in the ashes and found

A lovable con-artist in me.

I’d learned to “look out for number one.”

How good, how fun!

I’d be at the civilized center of self-esteem

And never repent of this new dream.

I’d run through the door of that old hotel

Like a six million dollar man,

Spitting out splinters, the knob still in my hand.

And all of the way down to Harrod’s, I’d plan.

I’d live in a would-be-could-be world

where I was arrogant and fine,

and paralyzed profits and crucified time.

I’d ranch the prairies

And build a dynasty:

“Someday, little darlin’, this’ll all be yurs,

as fur as the eye can see.

They’s gonna be a town over there,

and dogies, little dogies everwhur.

And we’ll name the town after our son,

and he’ll be rich and subjugate poor people,

just like we taught him to do.”

*Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 (paraphrased)

To read the next episode, click here.

fools-odyssey-title-art-2

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir, Poetry, Quips and Quotes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to My Life of Happy Materialism in London

  1. Pingback: My Big Epiphany in London | Mitch Teemley

  2. Ananda says:

    Beautiful. I had the same experience of nodding off at the theatre on my first night in London – though did not sleep for 22 hours😱

    Liked by 2 people

  3. boromax says:

    Wow. That was ridiculously enjoyable to read!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. “..paralyzed profits and crucified time.” Well said Mitch. Loved the read. Reminded me of my naive, innocent, materialistic self-spending a week in London in August of ’68. I do remember musicals were so cheap I could afford to see them. I also loved the Indian food. It was and remains an amazing city that a man of astonishing maturity visited, perhaps, often. His last name was Lewis and he died the day of Kennedy’s tragic assassination. His term “Mere Christianity” was his vast understatement. It’s the clearest most beautiful defense of our faith I have ever read.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Yes that’s self, spending. Am I getting to old for this?

    Liked by 4 people

  6. This definitely fits the bill for a fool’s odyssey!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I ridiculously enjoyed this, too. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Maha says:

    I enjoyed your journey along 😊. Lovely post

    Liked by 1 person

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