An Essay From My Past dated 31st March 1975
Thoughts from an old journal - saved from being thrown out.
I am so glad that I didn’t throw out all my old journals, for it is wonderful to be able to read about one’s beliefs and values as a younger man. Today I’m seventy-seven years of age, but when I hand-wrote the essay you can read below – if you want to – you will discover how I thought and felt at thirty-nine. The essay is dated 31st March 1975.
Here’s the essay:
The writer at forty-one; two years after this essay was written.
There's no such thing as a point, and that includes time.
I don’t know where I came from or where I’m going. Why I was born or why I will die; or how and where I’ll die for that matter. I cannot ascertain the future, or even accurately recall the past. And it seems, if the scientists and the mathematicians are right, then there is no such thing as a point in time – and therefore no present.
Yet I live.
I won’t know why I live. Or how I live. I don’t know what makes my heart beat; how ideas spring into my mind, or how I find the creativity to write such as I am doing now.
I am man. Vain enough to think that the so-called gifts and skills and abilities that from time to time manifest themselves through a body and mind that I know so little about, are something created and exercised by my self.
And I don’t know what my ‘self’ is.
The family home from 1961 until 2007. A 1970's picture.
So we are more than a body.
I assume that there is a self, and that it is Godlike. Just where and what it is I do not know. If a surgeon cuts off my arm, takes a little of my brain tissue or even a part of my heart, I am still in existence. So I am more than my body. But I need my body to experience life on the physical plane. The yardstick of the physical plane is the physical body.
And yet a physical world such as Earth could exist in the universe even if there were not one human being inhabitant upon it. Or could it?
Mysteries - yes, all is mystery.
Family photo taken in the 1970s. Dad, Mum and the three chidren.
We are born, we live, and we die.
But this gets us nowhere. We are born, we live, and we die. On the physical plane anyway. Whether we existed before we came into this world and continue to exist when we leave it is redundant to most of our preoccupations whilst here on earth. Except, of course, in that all-important matter of a personal philosophy. Nearly all of us are left in doubt, however strong or slight in this regard.
If we believe (or embrace because we haven’t given it much thought) that we came from nothing, will live seventy or eighty man-made years and will go again into nothing, then our problems are relatively few. However, if we are of a nature that dwells a lot on this belief and cannot shake it, we are often very disturbed at the seemingly purposelessness of life. But back to our first type: the pragmatist.
The pragmatist's philosophy is simple: ignore mysticism.
Such a man - the pragmatist - has only the problems of the physical world to deal with. He knows what gives him pleasure and what gives him pain. He knows also the ‘odds’ of life, the gambles, and the risks. He eliminates, to the best of his ability, discomfort and insecurity, and embraces comfort and security. His philosophy becomes simple: acquire wealth, health, power and independence: shed poverty, ill-health, weakness and dependence.
Of course, there is probably no such thing as the one hundred percent truly pragmatic man. Every man is a mass of contradictions. Every man is a moralist, a philosopher, an observer, as well as an actor in the ‘great play of life.’ So complex are we that even if we are most fixed in our ways and have what we consider fixed beliefs and opinions, our subconscious selves knows differently.
My darling and I and our old dog, Gypsy, around 1975.
Hard-headed realists or pragmatists more often succeed.
But it is generally the man nearest to the one hundred percent pure pragmatist who comes closest to worldly success. His aims are more practical. His philosophy engenders practical results. In the world of ‘the man in the street,’ he is “a man who knows what he wants.” And his wants are simple.
He sets about achieving what he wants. If he is intelligent, he knows that too much of most things is bad for him, too little unsatisfactory. However, there is one man-made commodity it is almost too hard to have too much of – and that is money. For with money he can get nearly all those practical things that he requires. He can rely on what he considers to be his common sense to see that he doesn’t indulge – personally – in more than he needs. A multi-millionaire doesn’t need fifty personal cars for example. No, with money he can plan his life. And part of his life, of course, will be the acquiring of more money.
The complete pragmatist's aim is tangible success.
The pragmatist’s life therefore takes on, in his opinion, more purpose. The aim is to achieve more wealth, more power. It is power to please those who please him. It is to hold in check those people and things that cause him displeasure and annoyance.
If he is a sensitive man (Somehow most really pragmatic men are not, for some reason) then he will extend and develop his range of enjoyment. The grosser, though very satisfying pleasures, of food, drink, sex, and physical activity, will be augmented by a true appreciation of good music, art and literature.
My wife, Rita, at age thirty-seven.
And so at the height of his success he realizes he has failed.
It is often at this stage that the successful and reasonably sensible pragmatist learns that many other people already have more than he has in regard to the understanding and appreciation of things beyond his ken. And so, at the height of his success he fails, becoming once more just one of the herd, seeking after he knows not what.
Three hand-written pages of hundreds of words saying nothing – nothing of any value anyway.
I would like to think that my journals, all my writings have contributed something, however small, to humanity’s welfare, but I wonder if it really has.
I don’t know where I came from or where I’m going. Why I was born, or why I will die. I know only that ‘I am.’
End of essay. I hope you enjoyed and got something out of the read.
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