• neil

Day 78 (3 June): Beam me aboard

I have an old friend who, on walks through the forest, from time to time cries out

'Come out elves! Give me the ring of power! I am ready to take up my burden!'

And I know how he feels. I suspect we all do. We all have this niggling feeling that there must be more; that we were destined for something else, for an adventure or a quest or simply fame and adulation, and that at some point we will be asked to step centre stage to 'Oohs!' and 'Aahs!' of unbridled admiration and barely disguised lust. Life was going to lift us up and celebrate us as special ones. Instead, we find ourselves in the woods on a wet Monday in January thinking ‘How did that happen?'

Never having been a rock star, although I do play a mean tune on tissue paper stretched over a comb, I always got by thanks to the certain conviction that when aliens arrive they would pick me as their go between in the discourse between planet Earth and the Confederation of Civilised Planets. Perks of the post were to include various super powers and a huge life span - indeed a huge everything. I would of course be irresistible to women. I was prepared to compromise and settle for the last bit.

We have all spent decades following the Sensible Map. We studied, got jobs, bought a house and raised a family; family eventually went their own ways and we, as often as not got divorced and lost our sense of purpose or direction. The map just seemed to run out of roads.

So we have affairs, we have break-downs and we travel to places which are exotic, on the condition you don’t come from there - if you do come from there they are better described as dirty, downtrodden and under-privileged. We then go home with a phone full of selfies and plaster Face Book with happy pics. Our public personas radiate Machu Picchu while our tortured inner-selves are writhing in Blackpool.

So what are we trying to do with our fantasies and our escapism? Why the huge and sustained effort to build these sandcastles? What if mine were to come true and the aliens were to permit me to integrate my mind in several places simultaneously, to be the mind of the starship, the human, the robot on a planet surface or the dragon in a construct reality, would I be happier? Would I seize the moment? Or would I still divide my mind between the unobtainable past and an improbable future?

Would I not finally be very confused and hanker after my little house in Overijse? I doubt very much that my fantasies are your fantasies but I do not doubt that you have fantasies and escape into a world all of your own. Because our common place diversions are also seeded by our fantasies. The Harley Davison we buy aged fifty is nothing to do with mechanics and travel and everything to do with our “wild thing” fantasy. The lover we take to escape from a stale marriage or the boring day-to-day train track life is less to do with the person in our bed than with our need to escape from things we don’t want to see or feel.

This is evasion in the same way as alcohol or pot is evasion. And there is nothing wrong with some evasion - just as there is nothing wrong with taking that exotic holiday.

It only becomes noxious when we live for the fantasy, the evasion, the drug or the affair. When we absolutely need something or somebody to shore us up.

Perhaps the simplest and most effective course of action is not to run away from ourselves or camouflage our realities but to turn round and shore ourselves up. Embrace ourselves, love ourselves, complement ourselves, treat ourselves, respect ourselves and become our own lovers - because as long as we are needy and relying on outside support we are utterly vulnerable when that support is withdrawn. Love comes from within us, begins with us, fills us and only then can it expand outwards. When we love ourselves we have so much more to offer others.

Of course, this outpouring might just be because I’m going through menopause. And don’t tell me I’m the wrong sex for menopause or too old for menopause. This is 2020.

I am starting a movement to be called ‘Menopause for the Sexegenarian Man’ or “Men Pause for Sex” for short.

We can cry in each others arms, celebrate hot flushes, sympathise over sleeplessness, compare bone density and swap stories of alien encounters and magic rings.

At 300 euros a month it is a bargain and you will be contributing to my space suit fund.

Hug yourselves and then hug yourselves again!



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