February 21, 2005

Life: Whever you go, there you are?

Milan Kundera said this about a character in his book Immortality: that his marriage was just an episodic event; a parenthesis in his life after which he returned precisely to the place he’d been before he met his bride. That struck a chord in me. That my own relationship was, in many ways, a parenthesis in my life, leaving me back at the place I was before I met him. Little has changed. I mean, true, on a superficial level, yes, I have gained some experience and my views of certain issues have been irrevocably altered, but fundamentally, I feel almost as if I’ve returned to the embryo stage of romantic relationships. I feel pretty much right now the way I did six years ago.

Is what Kundera said true? That no matter what happens in our lives, we inevitably come one full circle back to the point where we first began? This would be fine if that starting point were something positive but I’m pretty sure, for most of us, it isn’t. I mean, that’s the reason why we moved from it in the first place, isn’t it? Because it isn’t where we intend to stay and yet, we are unwittingly drawn back to it against our will … or is it actually in our will and in some twisted way, fully in our control, and we’re orchestrating events in such a manner that we cannot help but return to point A?

Are we really in control of what happens in our lives or are we simply puppets dancing on a stage? A series of events already drawn up in ink for us? Over which we have little control? I’m not one to resign to fatalism but I can’t help but wonder: do we each have a recurring theme in life from which we cannot escape? If this is the case, then hope is the greatest fallacy of all – it merely gives us sufficient delusion to carry on in a misguided cloud of optimism until we come to the end of our life and realise that hey, we are right back where we started.

Am I bouncing along the right vein of thought or is this something to which everyone has given considerable thought? Is this an experience that is collective and therefore, not exclusive to me? Am I arrogant in assuming that, of all the billions of people in this world, I’m the only one nursing such ideas? Am I thinking needlessly? Probably.

It’s just unsettling to me that life might just comprise nothing more than a series of parentheses after which we find ourselves back at square one. In a way, that last bit does hold a nugget of truth that’s worth pondering over. We’re made from dust and to dust we return when we die. That’s a cycle, isn’t it?

We start off with childhood, go through the mundane rigours of life only to return to what we term as our second childhood in old age. Is it possible that this pattern is played out in every other aspect of life as well? That everything is a cycle? This certainly brings new meaning to the little joke “Wherever you go, there you are”. When put this way, it’s a wonder why the hell anyone makes the effort to go anywhere.

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