I’ve come to believe that life is small. The big, revealing answers to the grand questions of existence, of purpose, of will, of fate, of faith, of why and what for, probably aren’t out there, in here, or anywhere at all. Speculating on them is little different from indulging in conspiracy theories or fairy tales. It can be a fun or interesting way to pass the time, but it’s probably good to remember it is just speculation. Because no one really knows anything for certain. Not when it comes to the big stuff anyway. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, we don’t know why or how we’re here, we don’t know what happens after we’re gone.
But as for the small, day to day, moment to moment questions, that’s where we all have answers for ourselves.
I realise I spend too much time in the abstract, in gazing into the future, in theorising, in seeking magical clues and cues into the big, majestic questions and more and more it leaves me depleted. Like dealing with the pangs of hunger by setting out to harvest a field instead of making a salad from the stuff in the fridge.
The smallness of life is being pointed out to me at the moment by the unfortunately named Epstein-Barr virus, which has had me in its filthy mitts for a couple of months now, leaving me weak and fatigued every day. To try to make some kind of peace with it I’ve given my virus a name. Jeff, obviously. Jeff Epstein. I can feel ok for a time and then be thwacked by Jeff a few hours later and forced to go back to bed. Things got particularly bad last week, which is why I didn’t write anything. And all I can do, as I keep rediscovering, is deal with the immediate, the right now, the small.
Anything bigger – like making a plan for tomorrow or wondering why I have the illness or seeking some bigger meaning to fit neatly into an overarching narrative for my life, as if it’s all written in the stars, as if it’s all bigger than it really is – and I’m invariably and rather quickly put on my arse and brought back, once again, to the smallness of right now. Right now I can deal with, anything beyond and it’s, well, beyond me.
It makes me think about that theoretical model, the locus of control. Imagine three concentric circles: the smallest represents anything in your life under your direct control. The next is anything over which you might have influence. And the largest denotes everything else. It’s no surprise that this is the biggest circle because we have a genuine say over so very little in our lives.
Try it. Do a quick inventory of your life and see what you have absolute control over. It might surprise you.
Life is small.
Which isn’t to say it’s bad or meaningless. Just that, really, when we brush away all the fairy tale wishing and magical thinking, all we ever really have is the tiny right now.
And right now I’m going back to bed with Jeff.
And while I do I wish you love. Jeff doesn’t though cos he’s a prick.