I am having one of those rare days when, out of the blue and for no obvious reason, everything seems pointless. Empty. Void of meaning or purpose.
I saw an old man earlier, barely able to walk slowly up the street with the assistance of his walking stick, and I suddenly felt as though I was going to blink my eyes and be that old, with most of my life behind me – and what will I remember then about today? What will it matter, these small emotions that feel so overwhelming, in the overall picture of my life, let alone anything greater than that? And whilst I thought of a life already lived, I simultaneously faced the reality that I might just as well be dead tomorrow, cold and gone, and soon forgotten.
What does any of it matter?
I want to end this post there – with a simple statement of how I feel. Yet somehow I can never allow myself that simplicity; I always have to add the context that I know this illogical knot of rage and fear in my gut will have faded before I am home with my loving and wonderful family tonight, and try to explore this emotion a little more.
I clearly remember one of the first times I felt like this after my mother’s death. It was two months after she died, and I was playing in a Canoe Polo tournament in Wales. It was a grey, cold Saturday afternoon, and I was paddling back from the docks where we had just finished a game. I stopped to look at a small flower growing on the sheer stone walls of the docks, where it seemed impossible any life could be sustained. It seemed like it should signify the imperative of life for life’s sake; the overcoming of odds, the defying of adversity, and beauty in the most unexpected places. It is exactly the sort of thing that would usually bring a smile to my face. But as I looked at it I just felt a sullen emptiness, and a rage at the pointlessness of life. I tried to express it to a team mate, but he merely stated the perfectly reasonable viewpoint that life doesn’t need to have meaning, but is enough in and of itself – which I agree with, and is indeed a perspective that I have been quite content with for most of my life, but made me rage even more at my inability to express my emotion in that moment. I could not explain the difference between my general feeling of being satisfied without my life having any greater meaning – it being enough to live and love and appreciate the beauty of the world – and this furious, fleeting sense of futility. Is it perhaps impossible to explain to someone who has never experienced it?