Sometimes you get change thrust upon you; change you never anticipated, didn’t choose and really, truly do not want, and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it. Just such a moment of change happened in my life one evening this July with the death of one of the people closest to me.
It’s been an opportunity for self-indulgence which I ordinarily work hard to resist but which in this instance I allowed to run its course partly because it overwhelmed me with such speed that I was very deeply submerged before I had the opportunity to take a full breath; partly because it felt wrong this time, to fight it.
There’s been a lesson in the emotional violence of the upheaval of course, which is this: people who say ‘shit happens’ as if it’s something you’re supposed to just shake off, have very possibly never had ‘shit’ ‘happen’ to them.
That’s a good thing. I hope that good fortune continues for a long time to come.
But they’re wrong to be blasé. I also used to wonder whether it could really be possible to simply take everything in stride and glide through all the changes, but I know now that actually it is not. There are things even at my age I have to learn to handle.
I guess in the opposite sense that’s why people who make it big overnight often go so spectacularly off the rails. You can’t make this stuff up. You have to live it, I think.
Above all else however it’s a reminder that clocks stop with complete disregard for what you have achieved. We all know this, but I suspect again that not everyone truly knows it.
What it means to me as I run the gamut of existential uncertainty is a slight readjustment of values. I have long been only vaguely materialistic, assuming without any real supporting evidence that to be otherwise somehow lacks moral deportment. But I can no longer claim to be so certain. If the clock stops, it stops equally for the morally profound as for those who choose to blaze a trail of wanton destruction.
The difference appears to be only whether you have lived the life you desire while you have the chance. And nobody but you can know that.
I’ve speculated about the hidden value of selfishness in this blog before, but allow me to repeat that now. It seems to me, as I clamber through the fallout that the only rider on supportive selfishness is that in chasing it, you choose not to hurt others wherever that is possible. I can’t think why anything else would be taboo.