And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all. Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfilment.
TS Eliot: Little Gidding
There is now for me a quite simple, solitary, almost reclusive life, almost ended; as if the Cosmos – Wyrd – has contrived to place me exactly where I need to be: in, with, such a situation and surroundings as makes me remember the unwise deeds of those my pasts, and which placement offers more opportunities for one fallible human being to learn, especially about how people are not as, for many decades, I with my arrogance and abstractive purpose assumed.
For now I of the aged poor have no purpose, no ideation, to guide; no assumptions founded on, extrapolated from, some causal lifeless abstraction. No politics; no religion; not even any faith. There is instead only the living of moments, one fluxing as it fluxes to, within, the next. No dreams of Destiny; no supra-personal goals; no desires of self to break the calm of day and night. Only walks, and a being, alone to mingle with weather, Life, Nature as one so mingles when happiness is there inside unsupported by some outer cause or expectation of or from another.
Few possessions, belongings, as if I am a Gentleman of The Road again, but briefly staying here in this some un-heated house; or perhaps some almost-monk of one half-remembered paien apprehension, with neither monastery nor home, who feels now the hidden meaning of life: that this is all that there is or should be, this peace brought because there is a freedom from desiring desires. Someone sad, burdened by a deep naked knowledge of himself, but who and now, too sensitive perhaps, smiles too often and tries to hide the burgeoning tears of joy that sometimes seem to so betake him unawares,
as when that warm late Summer’s evening I chanced up that family, there, where a town’s centre gave way to greenful Park and when, Sun descending, young mother helped her daughter light that paper lantern. Such joy, such joy, upon those faces, there, as slight breeze carried high perhaps some wistful wish, away.
As when before that walk in rainy woods alone I chanced to smile as dog with youthful lady, towed, came via pavement to pass this old man by. Such brief contact of courteous words exchanged, a smile returned, and off they went their way, their world, to leave only a glimpse, only a glimpse of futures-present-past – and her perfume, lingering, there. I – melded with tree, sky, soil, increasing rain – feeling such a burden of promise there. And there was nothing left to do but walk-on, hoping that someone might, did, treasure the goodness captured there, presenced within one more so mortal human life…
I, now, someone – who unlike so many millions world-wide – fortunate indeed to have shelter, food adequate to feed his gauntness for a day; clothes sufficient to keep-in warmth; and health – though agely ageing, slowly fading – enough to keep him fending for, and fendful of, himself. There could be more; there was far more, but that seems long ago; unneeded now. For this is all that there is, this happiness in moments when – needs fulfilled – no lust for change, having laid in wait within, bursts forth bringing thus such breaking difference as so often causes two, more, far more, humans to break or drift apart.
Emotions governed, basic needs supplied, with memories – of lives – sufficientized for years of daily dreams, what more remains, becomes required? Little, so very little, except we being human, external still, do still so cause such suffering, so much – for what?
For there has come upon me these past few years, of this so simple living, a certain understanding. Of how I am never, was never, ever, totally alone, being only one briefly born connexion. Of just how easy it is to be content, breeding happiness in oneself and others, and how even easier it is to lapse, to fail, to fall; to let feelings, abstractions, guide, control, as when in the past I would breed discontent within myself, with loved ones and others, never satisfied with this or that. For happiness, I presumed, lay in better things – a better home some better place; better food clothes holidays finer wine; that other woman, there; and, perhaps far worse, lay with better way of life for those unknown, a way wrought by deeds done, by pursuit of lifeless ideation as if I, that temporary self, might have made some difference and that those causal shells had or might be given meaning or even by violence, blood, become somehow gifted with the breath of life.
So little self-control. So much love, hopes, lives destroyed; and how much suffering I by hubris caused. So much – for what? Some selfish passing pleasure; no external change that lasted; that ever could, would, last. Since real change, discovered, is only and ever within ourselves, alone – there, interior, ready to gently touch another, one gift of one person personally known so that only now perhaps I am with, of, the numen living.
Thus I am returned to sometimes where I so briefly was, my purpose altered, far beyond the goals I in arrogance so vainly figured. For I am nothing special, unique; only some half-remembered vague aspirations of this age, whose words, life – as so many – perhaps uncovers divinity as the divine but whose past concerned creating illusion, illusions, in expiation of a humanity then so lost.
Returned, as when I with tent, wandered, roamed. Returned, as those sunny warm days that Summer in Leeds when – before a monastery claimed me – I would walk barefoot inanely smiling so pleased to be free, young, alive. Returned as when, bus-arrived, love caught me and she that April day embraced me with such hope, such gentle hope, such simple sharing dreams that remembrance now brings so many tears of sadness. For I in selfishness broke them.
Returned as that day – so many many years on – when love for me lived within another as we two so slowly walked some Worcester streets…
How foolish, how so very foolish, to have lost such times, such love, by lust for change, by such selfish stupidity as lived within me still and still until years years further on that other dying came in May to almost break betake me.
Now, I am only someone living – a simple living – with a certain fallible inner understanding, born of suffering, deaths, distress, despair. So there is so aptly now only slow quiescent walks alone and such memories, such memories, as I hope I hope have made a better man.