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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 life of happy materialism in London had lasted exactly six days. True, it had played out entirely inside my head, but, oh, it had been glorious there in my head. For awhile. Yes, it had been false, and I’d always hated false. But never immediately. Only eventually. And then the voice that had sent me on this odyssey reminded me that it wasn’t what I’d come for. I hated that voice. And loved it. But never immediately. Only eventually.
So I begged back my deposit for the flat, then went and got an omelet and read the travel section. Of the paper. They don’t have travel sections in omelets. Though if eggs could talk…
As I got more and more full of coffee, my head got more and more full of caffeinated dreams. “Your problem,” I thought, “is that you were too dependent upon the kindness of human milk, too full of get and have and horde and keep without ever having lived. There’s so much more to life. So go now, break off the nearest branch and start munching!”
“Experience is the only thing that’s real,” I thought (and thought it was an original thought), “but it’s not real until you experience it.” If an egg falls in the forest…who cares? The thing is to never stop eating. That was it! I had to go and eat life, whatever that meant, and reinvent it along the way.
And then I saw the ad for the late night train to Paris and knew—the way you know when you’ve prearranged to know—that this was it! Unless it was “faux.” But, no, I wouldn’t let it be! I looked down again at the advert, and I thought of red wine and oil paint and voluptuous women, and thought, “Yes!” But six days from whence my odyssey first began, and already it was beginning again.
What ho, Ulysses!
And so I said in my heart,
go to now and I will prove thee with mirth.
Therefore, enjoy pleasure.
And whatsoever mine eyes desired
I would not keep from them;
I would not withhold my heart from anything.*
*Ecclesiastes 2:1, 10
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