Sunday, 5 April 2015

It all amounts to nothing.... maybe

Today is Easter Sunday apparently - one of only three days a year that the country is shut and the only thing to do is search in vain for something worth watching on telly, secure in the knowledge that tomorrow everyone will be crammed like sardines into every garden centre and DIY superstore in the land.
So am I sitting here feeling nauseous, surrounded by foil wrappers that once encased a hugely overpriced chocolate egg? No I'm not, because I treat Easter with the same level of disdain as Christmas. I'm not religious, and I object to religious festivals being used as yet another excuse for commercial gain. We all know that the amount of chocolate in the average Easter egg is comparable to that contained in a 'fun-size' Milky Way. Spend the same amount on proper chocolate bars and you'll have to spend a month down the gym to work it off, with cocoa-flavoured sweat soaking into your t-shirt. Yet I'm constantly amazed that so many people fall for the 'everyone else is doing it' bullshit, despite knowing full well that come Monday morning the shops will be knocking them out for a quarter of the price they were yesterday just to get rid of them.

But does it really matter whether you fall for the commercial machine's 'this is how you must aspire to live your life' party line or if you have the strength of character and intelligence to forge your own path through life without being affected by what others think you should be doing?
When the chips are down, does it make any difference if you travel through life on a pristine motorway with a heute-cuisine restaurant in every service station, driving a gold-plated Bentley with Keira Knightley in the passenger seat, or if you undertake the journey on a badly potholed B-road littered with roadkill and discarded KFC cartons in a rusty Austin Allegro?
Some people live life at the red line, blasting through to the next life completely sideways in a ball of fire yelling "Holy shit that was fun!", whereas others will come and go without being noticed.
The end result, however we undertake the journey of life, is that the destination is always the same. Death.
With this inescapable fact in mind, the question arises - exactly how many things in life really matter?
I've got another week off work to go, but suppose I decided not to go back at all? Would the world notice if some PHD student was unable to carry out their experiments to try and prove that their new design of vortex generator will reduce drag by two percent? Doubtful.
The realisation of this has opened up my mind to a new attitude.
I've recently been going through a stage of being very down, agitated and heavy-hearted. It didn't go unnoticed, to the point where I had my boss wanting a little word about what was going on. Such a shame my colleagues felt unable to sit me down and talk about their concerns directly rather than involving someone else, but maybe they didn't want the discomfort of me breaking down completely in front of them. Understandable I guess.
Luckily the wife introduced me to a book called 'Stop thinking, start living' by Richard Carlson, and it seems to have initiated a change for the better. The basic premise of his teachings involves stopping yourself from following negative trains of thought and overthinking problems, because doing so only serves to amplify any problems out of proportion.
There's been a lot of stuff on my mind - some issues too personal to talk about here - and by allowing myself to dwell upon and constantly analyze these issues I'd been dragging myself further into a pit of despair that was becoming impossible to climb out of.
By realising that my ever-present tendency to cultivate negative thoughts was the source of my impending self-destruction, I've managed to start working towards a more balanced and healthy mindset.
Part of this for me is working out what's really important in life, which when you think about it rationally comes down to having a roof over your head, food in your belly, clothes on your back, and family and friends with whom to share love and support.
All the other crap is just there for decoration and doesn't really matter in the scheme of things. Whether it's having the full-on 'Hello' magazine lifestyle, or buying overpriced chocolate eggs, it doesn't shield you from the inevitability of a wooden box trundling slowly into a furnace.
Acceptance of this is actually quite liberating, and frees me even more from the self-induced worries about the nonsense of modern life, which is great because if nothing else it allows you to feel totally guilt-free about buying cheap Easter eggs after the event.