Friday, December 30, 2005


the capacity to endure ranks high in the category of life-skills that tend, like the capacity to be generous, to enlarge rather than diminish us.

life (apart from that experienced by our beloved leaders and slebs, of course) is normally hard - it's something that's always come with the territory, whether that's been the early days of trying to stay alive on the savannah or, more recently, having to deal with the anguish of breaking our fingernails on the wheels of our iPods. the hardness is punctuated by moments of lesser hardness - happiness, pleasure, contentment, joy, even - but these are not the norm. the norm is hard. always has been. always will. if it's not hard in the brutal survival sense, in the sense of having to do back-breaking work from dawn to dusk in order to put food on our family's table (the norm, that is, for the greater part of the planet's population) it's hard in the comparative sense - the price 'we' pay for having chosen a competitive rather than a co-operative system as the engine of our socio-economic existence. no matter how hard we try to improve our lot, in whatever sense we might understand 'improvement', we are doomed to failure, since the measure of our success is, by definition, a shifting thing, tied to a vacillating set of indicators as volatile as any trade index, endlessly receding down a road which we are bound to follow, endlessly, fruitlessly, because the promise will only ever be fulfilled tomorrow, when we reach the vanishing point.

endurance is part of the hard, which is why 'we' have developed so many artificial softening strategies: anaesthetic, distraction, denial, inter alia. drugs, normally, play a large part, as do a glorious mishmash of entertainments, some of which, ironically, are about sitting in our reinforced sofas watching others endure things - either in the 'pushing their bodies to the limits of their endurance' sense, or in the 'limiting their self-esteem to the point of enduring maximum humiliation in order to claim their moment of fame' sense.

endurance and patience - nature's beta-blockers.

the one - probably the only - experience that will soften the hard, cushion the crash, compensate for all the endurance, is the unconditional love - if reciprocated - of another human being.

sadly, many humans, especially in England, seem to have to settle for the supposedly unconditional love of an animal - a dog, a cat, a goldfish - when that of a person fails to materialise. this is called transference. (no it's not, you idiot, but it might as well be; if you still give credence to the repressed ravings of the jawless Viennese - no offence, and thanks for the unconscious, siggie - you might as well go the whole hog.) all else - the drink, the drugs, the hobbies, the obsessions, the package holidays, the clubs, the cars, the gadgets, the gizmos, the big macs, the praying (o lordie the praying!), the subscriptions, the flag-waving, the piercings, the yoga, the fan forums - is in some part a substitute for this one significant lack, this hole that cannot be filled, however hard we might try, by anything else.

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