Photo by Brandon Green (unsplash.com)
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.
London was so sweet. I loved her grinning granite Bacchuses and horns-of-plenty on nearly every corner. I was enrapt by her history, her strands, her mews. Still, the voice in my heart continued to drone, “Yes, but it’s not enough. It’s not what you came for.” So I tried to drown it in the wake of my newfound intoxication over things. Later, in my journal, I wrote:
I pronounced the wretched street-caller preacher
shouting in my head
three days gone and stinking
and certified him dead.
I gargled like a burgeoning beaver
illumined like an eel
I swam to the outermost extremes
of my personal bastille.
But then one night, as I wove my way past begging alcoholics, whose only mission was to forget, and made my way down into the Underground, I wrote a bitter rebuke to myself:
“In this brave new basement, this world of coughing antonyms and eyeless molehobbos begging back their souls, how am I any different?
How is their half-life dream of cut-rate wine or paraffin
any less whole than the poshest dream of whitening in the sun,
the resplendence of things that eat you slower,
but leave you just as done?
I am one of them, I said in my heart,
and I’ll eventually end up a spiritual derelict,
stalking the morbid night of my own invention,
and beating incessantly at the dome of my own imaginary heaven.
“I am one of them,” I said in my heart.
“No! No, I’m not one of them!” said the Fool. “I’m happy like Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, happy with my new life!”
“I made me great works,” replied the Wise Man, “built me great houses, gathered me silver and gold…more than all who’d come before me. But then said I in my heart, ‘As it happens to the Fool, so it happened to me.’”*
That night I came home to my little hotel room, and sat staring at the apples and chocolates on the dresser, until I finally fell over and went to sleep. My week-old dream was losing steam. I was cold…
I guess from the loss of steam.
*Ecclesiastes 2:4, 15
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