‘Building a castle or playing a game?’
On Sunday I had an interesting half hour with my friend Richard Abbot. When in dialogue with him you can be certain of an intelligent, thought provoking and humorous conversation. We covered some interesting ideas and I was reminded of two ideas worth careful reflection.
I agree with Richard. When younger we’re more resilient to emotional and intellectual conundrums, certainly the teenage years are tumultuous times. A man can become renegade, addict or famous. He may marry too early and stifle his future. Or he may become involved with a life long project of security. Truth to tell most of us can overcome any teenage difficulty. I do not include terrible traumatic situations, rape, abuse or violence within this essay, these are difficulties many struggle with through their entire life. My belief is in line with my friends opinion, when younger resilience is stronger and we’re more able to move on.
In the twenties it becomes a little more difficult. The mind is building a circular wall, the draw bridge is open, the moat is not too deep. We can become defensive and we know when to throw the invaders out of our castle, which incidentally is still visible, in this decade few need to hide anything. So life is teaching us lessons and a fortress of confidence is being built. The castle is becoming or almost hidden behind the defences.
Into the third decade the moat is deeper and if all is going well family live in the castle, friends visit and if one is sensible the drawbridge is looked after and kept strong. When the difficulties in life fire the catapult or attempt to batter down the door and if the ‘plan’ is working the fortress stays strong and defeat is never a word considered.
For some, the attack is too much, the drawbridge falls, portcullis breached, walls climbed and the family broken, confidence breaks. A Cromwell style army of ‘professionals’ blow up the defences in order break down the threat. And now repair becomes more difficult.
The need is for a new beginning in a time when the fallen knight or maiden believes there is no more. Life is on the homeward journey. Four decades passed, years wasted. Reflections of what was, could have been, and realisations which are difficult to face. Who has not said or thought, ‘I wish I knew then what I know now’. And here many will stay, in the ruins, becoming bitter, blaming others and building a facade around their lives.
In my conversation with Richard I was reminded of an exception, a turnaround.
Sometimes when the darkest hour has dimmed the soul and the light of the spirit is so low its like a glowing candle wick. We will meet a fountain of life, another human who will talk not with compassion or false hope. They will talk of the realities. Show the way to future and help us to walk away from the past, and walk away from the past looking forward.
Many walk backwards into their future. The keep looking at past situations, people and what if’s. As they walk backwards into their future they cannot see the opportunities or obstacles ahead in time. If we meet an individual who can literally ‘turn us around’ the future becomes a reality. We collect the beneficial and walk around problems. Yes, we all have met or know a navigator who’ll guide us back onto the right path. Truth to tell we often do not like them!
The Navigator understands ‘The Needs of Life’. And though the ascension of life attains the grade called ‘Adept’. He or she combines wisdom and understanding which becomes knowledge. The Adept does not concern his or herself with the situations or difficulties which they see as they have a clear separation between external situations and their selves. They continue to learn about the certainties of life, experience, skills, facts, information, which when combined with happiness, pleasure, freedom become the love of life.
There is nothing other than their right way. And the Adept does not advise or show a ‘way’. The Adept leads by example. Believe me when I write, ‘If you follow a fool, a fool you will be’. The Adept follows no man and knows he has created his world, no one to blame, no one to forgive, no one other than his or herself. And the Adept has the wisdom to understand that he will effect other other lives in a beneficial and beautiful way. No talk of magic, cures and riches. For the Adept will cast his own spell for himself, hard work, sensible material choices, living within his limitations. He will not be in fear of death and illness. He knows the difference between riches and wealth.
Far, far from being restricted by age, if we become Adept we can refocus our attention upon the right, good and accurate archives of knowledge and wisdom our memories hold in safekeeping. Think about this mantra, ‘I know now, what I know now and this is more than enough’, if you wish to remove the oft repeated and negative mantra ‘What a fool I’ve been’.
Every human can be Adept! The majority are walking backwards.
If you’re a writer its worth considering that the understanding of the ways of your fellow man is as important as the building of a character. Alan Sillitoe’s character Arthur Seaton is a lathe operator in the Raleigh Bike factory in Nottingham. Now, if you read the masterpiece of human observation ‘Saturday Night, Sunday Morning’, you’ll discover Arthur is an Adept. He knows the truth of his life, the reader may not like him, but during his narratives there is no mistaking his material, intellectual, emotional and spiritual beliefs and convictions. As far as Arthur is concerned his lathe makes his fortune and the way he can achieve the best possible return on units of bearings produced on the lathe against the effort needed to ‘turn them out’ is central to his working life and he excels, making a great wage. Intellectually he does not like the rich, as he understands their motivation of greed, although the astute reader will see he has fallen to the same trap! Outwardly he seems childish as he amuses himself with strange stories and practical jokes, truth to tell he knows the system and ridicules it. Emotionally he understands pain, cruelty and the ‘ways of love’. He preys upon married women in unhappy relationships, indeed he is badly beaten for his exploits and even here his philosophy is endearing as he accepts the ‘punishment’ and moves on. The book is a wonder of accurate human observation which has a plausibility to it. Because the story is being lived today, in every town and city the world over. Money, adultery, revenge, uncertain outcome. Nothing is new and its easy to reflect upon the fiction. However if this story becomes a reality and if the actors in the play are not too careful, when the game is over, they will find themselves to be walking backwards into their future.
The question is, ‘Building a castle or playing a game?’
Happy Birthday Richard.