Percy Shelley’s house hid under the lake
And I quoted a line or two about sleeping lions
Stood looking out on the bridge
With you and your friends
Across fields we rambled
Looking for mushrooms with magical properties
I felt a deep and healthy fear
Looking at the vastness of the land
They ran chanting like Indians
Through the pine trees and down a slope
I couldn’t keep up
And for a moment you all disappeared
We stopped to fill a water bottle
At the stream I took a moment to think
That everybody should live
Quiet and simply, just like this
Talking about getting older
At last we walked through the heart of Elan Valley
And you said that Leonard Cohen captured how it felt
To be twenty-seven
Whilst looking silently at your face
I knew that I would never forget these days shared
And that this was one of the happiest moments
Of my life
You sit there and you stare at me and say with self-accredited authority “once you realise that nothing matters, life becomes a lot more simple.” I say “some things matter, some things must matter.” And you tell me that I haven’t figured it all out yet, as if in life there is one great and final epiphany and the rest is all just intro and outro. As if the answer’s deigned to present itself to you but not to me.
Life’s great lesson might look like one big bang, but inside the magnificent explosion is an immeasurable number of sparking catalysts. That’s what an epiphany is, it’s a match being lit in slow motion. But I don’t say this to you, I don’t say anything at all.
You don’t know the half of my existential crisis, you don’t know how brightly or how fast my sulphur burns. I haven’t just looked into the blinding heat and light, I’ve walked dauntlessly into it and out again. I know what it is to be engulfed by the ineffable emptiness and futility of it all. I know what it is to understand that death is as meaningless as life and only half as much of a struggle.
Still, for some reason, we refute the answer with our very being. We negate the conclusion by continuing to exist, by sitting right here – you and me. We choose light over darkness, noise over silence, sensation over numbness. Why? Are we afraid of the unknown? I don’t doubt there’s truth in that. But fear alone isn’t enough to feed the soul day after day. Fear alone isn’t a reason for living.
Whenever I wake instead of sleep, whenever I eat instead of starve, whenever I breathe instead of asphyxiate, I know that some things matter, some things must matter. And when I find out what those things are I won’t try to enlighten you, I’ll let you strike your own match.