I have been thinking lately about how we live, and how we die, and how our lives are/are not shaped and affected by the only truth we can pretty much all agree on…some day, we will all cease to be alive. It is a corporate thing, and no one is exempt.

It still amazes me how profoundly we ignore and refuse to acknowledge, even believe that fact. Yet, or so it seems to me, an acceptance of our mortality, the fact that we will die tomorrow, potentially imbues today with something wonderful, even (and forgive this evangelical tone) magnificent. It gives today so much more potential and possibility that need not depend on a yesterday, or a tomorrow, just a nowness of being.

I return to Philip Larkin, and probably my favourite of his poems, Next, Please (Collected Poems, Faber, p.51). He challenges our constant looking to the future, our sense that things will be better tomorrow, and our stoic belief that some day our luck will change…

‘Till then, we say’

He alludes to our belief that one day – the nebulous tomorrow –  it will all come good, the ship will eventually dock and unload

‘All good into our lives, all we are owed

For waiting so devoutly and so long.’

In true Larkin style, the poets ends by attempting to shock us out of our delusional state:

‘But we are wrong:

Only one ship is seeking us, a black-

Sailed unfamiliar, towing at her back

A huge and birdless silence. In her wake

No waters breed or break.’

I end on the words of Noah and The Whale from an excerpt from the lyrics of their song L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.:

‘On my last night on earth, I won’t look to the sky

Just breathe in the air and blink in the light

On my last night on earth, I’ll pay a high price

To have no regrets and be done with my life.’

CQ

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