Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The Cycle of Life

Arboretum 6th March 2012
Having been preoccupied with other matters for a number of months, I've realised how much I've missed my walks in the park.

Today was a beautiful day: blue sky, bright sunshine, and quite warm, so I decided it was time to get back to the Arboretum.

After queuing behind too many students with too much money to spend (that's a bit judgmental isn't it? I apologise), I picked up my coffee from Costa's on Goldsmith Street (ideally placed for where I wanted to go), and headed for the park. My favourite bench was free, so I sat down and watched the world go by (actually this was about six people as the park was surprisingly quiet). Basking in the early afternoon sunshine, my mind turned to thoughts on the philosophy of life. Being me of course meant that none of these thoughts were particularly original.

Springing into life
The park was coming to life: bits of blossom here, a few buds there, and flowers poking their heads through the grassy slopes. How different this was from just a few weeks ago.

Where once there seemed only death, now there is vibrant life, and it will only get better. A young couple walked past with a visible glow on their faces. They were pushing a brand new pushchair, with a baby inside who couldn't have been more than a few weeks old.

My sister would have passed on about the same time that this baby was born, and so the cycle of life continues. None are exempt from being part of this cycle: our time is up, and we are replaced on this earth by someone else, and so it has ever been. Tragedy for some, and joy for others.

Sitting on that park bench and pondering the meaning of life, I thought how truly "classless" birth and death really are. Life sometimes can be dominated by class: does it exist, and if it does, where am I on the class ladder? But in birth and death none of that matters. The poorest and the richest persons in the world all appear in the same way; where they appear is of course very different, but the physical act of birth is the same for all. Similarly with death; where we die, be it a mansion or a gutter is of course different, but the physical expiration of life is the same. We are all united in birth and death, so don't you think that it's a great shame when this equality in between these two events is forgotten?

Philosophers have written much over the centuries about the essence of life, with most of it being incomprehensible to the ordinary person. Others, however have captured something that is understandable.

The singer/songwriter, Seasick Steve wrote, "I came into this world with nothing, and I've still got most of it left". I think that he had a good perspective on life. For Reba McEntire, it was, "To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone". While to Albert Einstein, "If A equals success, then the formula is: A = X + Y + Z, where X is work, Y is play, and Z is keep your mouth shut". 

How we live between the cradle and the grave is important, and as Mae West says, "You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough". Human beings have many views on life, and often it's not related to one's social condition. Some are upbeat even when they're suffering in life, while others are downbeat, though they seem to have everything that others crave.

In my favourite TV programme of all time, The X-Files, the dialogue goes, "Life... is like a box of chocolates - a cheap, thoughtless, perfunctory gift that no one ever asks for, unreturnable because all you get back is another box of chocolates. So, you're stuck with mostly undefinable whipped mint crap, mindlessly wolfed down when there's nothing else to eat while you're watching the game. Sure, once in a while you get a peanut butter cup or an English toffee, but it's gone too fast and the taste is fleeting. In the end, you are left with nothing but broken bits filled with hardened jelly and teeth-shattering nuts, which, if you are desperate enough to eat, leaves nothing but an empty box of useless brown paper". How terrible it is to view life like this.

In 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone', J K Rowling wrote, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live". That's it isn't it? The part between birth and death is life. We can't do a lot about the beginning and the end, but we can about the piece in the middle. It too is part of the cycle of life. There is joy in birth, and sadness in death, but in a recent bereavement, I've learnt the comfort of Dr Seuss' words, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened". 

Having just re-read this blog, I'm sure that my reader is asking, what the hell is he talking about? Hey, it's "philosophy", you're not supposed to understand it.

No comments:

Post a Comment