May the light of this flickering candle illuminate the night the way your spirit illuminates my soul. Granddad, can you hear me?
My Grandfather died in 1981. Twenty six years ago. That's a long time. It would be a very long time for a child, it's long enough for a man.
The only benefit of growing old myself, I think, is that time passes through my hands ever faster. As time speeds up, the pains and heartaches of the past seem ever further away. Back, back, further back in time.
Strange, how when I was an eight year old boy, the six weeks of Summer holiday, of no schoool, well, seemed like an eternity. Now, as a man in his mid thirties, the children seem to have next to no rest from the place I waited years to leave. They may have it bad now, and, a cliché, I know, but life gets worse. As one gets older, the threats become more severe, the possibilities more deadly and the pain more bloody. The only saving grace is that as the quantity of shit builds up and the frequency of its delivery increases, the space between shitty events seems ever larger. Thank the Lord.
And time is a great healer. I don't know how I'd have coped if my Grandfather died while I'm in adulthood. Or, indeed, if it happened recently. And as horrible as the possibility was real, each time I imagine it, my heart breaks into a thousand pieces, my stomach ties itself into a knot and breathing is laboured.
And I face the future, knowing how bad the past is and was, contemplating the death of my Mother. It's a reality I find impossible to face. I simply cannot. I know her end will mean some kind of ending for me, but what that exactly might be, I cannot say. I cannot guess the outcome of something I cannot face. Yet I rush headlong into the future, the unknown and the undiscovered.
Granddad would have known what to do, what might lie in wait around the proverbial corner and how to face it.
I think he'd tell me not to worry; that worry never changed anything. He'd tell me that I need a new philosophy. How people with empty lives need the drama of theatre, cinema and sombre music - and how I need an empty life, achievable, in no small part, by categorising everything in life, even the meaningful, as rubbish.
Buddhism, it would seem, dear reader, is the way ahead. Great truths and no desire. No desire to live a long and happy life, no desire to be loved and no desire to love. When it all falls apart, there's no reason to be upset; it was never desired in the first place. In a world where I want for nothing and nothing is all I have, I am happy.
So, as I go further into life, further towards death, I see that a philosophy of pessimism is not only desirable, but undesirable, too.