I meet people every day of the week from all different spheres. They've been the inspiration of articles I have written for my weekly column in the Huffington Post. I've frequently been amazed at what I would call the pettiness (petitesse d'esprit - to possess a character without intellectual elevation) of many of these people. Please don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that in a derogatory way. Not at all. I am not better or worse than anyone. The point I wish to make is that people exist on a shallow level where their daily reality is the fullness of their lives. For example, the former postman who is 46 and 'can no longer work' due to back problems brought on by lifting heavy postbags. He received a large payout and now spends all his time watching TV, smoking cigarettes, and taking his blood pressure tablets which make him 'go to the loo constantly'. Or the most delightful woman who is now on morphine 24/7 because the pain from a botched hip operation is too much to bear otherwise. She is lethargic, zonked out and her pupils are hugely dilated- the sign of a drug addled brain. Yet her addiction is legal and administered by the medical profession, no less.
There is a saying in Latin- a language I continue to vainly attempt to learn. Utendum est aetate; cito pede labitur aetas. We should make use of time for time slips quickly by. - Ovid.
Our time here on earth is limited and we should make good use of it. I am acutely aware of this as I get older. I am heading in one direction - downwards either to Hell or upwards towards a blissful state but that will be after my demise. Whilst I am compus mentis and still with blood coursing through my veins, I am determined to 'live'.
This evening as I walked the hound, I came upon two cars parked hurriedly, i.e badly, across the layby, and inside one car I saw a couple making love. Evidently this was a furtive encounter and most obviously, they were not married to each other but to others. It used to be criminal offence to do such things in a public space and to terrify the horses in the process, but the police these days must be otherwise engaged.
The thought crossed my mind as the hound and I walked past the amorous couple as incognito as we could, that very often, we associate 'living' with doing exactly what we want. For example, if we were to receive a death sentence tomorrow in the form of a terminal illness diagnosis, we would all take off and go bungee jumping or whatever else takes our fancy and we would have wanted to do forever. How many of us would retreat to a place of silence and meditate the rest of our lives away?
21st century 'living' is doing, consuming, spending, measuring everything including human interaction from a materialistic perspective. We barter, we don't give. We exchange, we don't love unconditionally and without a price attached. And yet, we are masters at wasting precious time, the very commodity which should come at the highest price but we squander it instead.
Consider this- how many hours do you spend watching TV? The average is 5 hours per day. What is the value to oneself to be aimlessly glued to an inanimate object? And yet Ovid extolls us to make use of time.
How does one make use of time? Removing the price we attach to it. Opening our hearts and minds to the gift that is life. Remembering that we will die and therefore we must live with the sole purpose of becoming a better version than what we are now.
Just a thought. But then again, what would be life without some small dose of introspection now and then?