Saturday, 2 August 2008

World Without End

Walking through the sleepy August streets today I was struck by how little life has changed; the same daily rituals are enacted today as they have always been. All that has changed is the perception that life is moving on at an ever increasing pace, and it is that illusion that fascinates me.

I wonder if in our limitless desire for the new we seek to escape from what is. Why are we so afraid of being? Why are we perpetually driven to fantasise about the future, or reminisce about, or continually revise and review our past?
The enduring fascination with sport illustrates this perfectly; in sport there is always another challenge, a new contender, the ever-present possibility that things might change for the better, for our team, for our hero.. and among football fans at least, the delicious schadenfreude in the anticipation or experience of our rivals downfall. We can happily remain stuck in this pseudo-reality for our whole lives. People claim allegiance to their team as a substitute for identity. It fulfils a deep need to belong, to be recognise, to experience life's glories vicariously.

Yes, we are apparently increasingly exhorted to explore these triumphs for ourselves, to go for it in the gym, to travel to far flung places; always more, always something else, always onwards. This kind of aspirational culture for the masses is something new, yet it goes hand in hand with a deep dissatisfaction with simply accepting what is. Acceptance in this sense is perceived as something negative, a cowardly surrender.

Yet in this dissatisfaction lie the seeds of liberation as well. This is what all spiritual texts point to; to look within, to find the way that leads to salvation from this world without end.

I find myself continually poised between desire and acceptance; I want to prove something to the world outside and to myself, I want to 'make it'. I want to be a contender. At the same time, I want to let go of this desperate pursuit and turn within. I think I enjoy the delicious suffering this induces. In a perpetual either or situation I find my identity stretches and warps, but at the same time deeper truth is revealed, a melting and reforging.

Maybe this seems like a melancholy first post for the revived West of Soho; no flash, no bravado, no tales of mishap or mayhem.. but then it is August. The month when London empties and for a month or so and there is a semblance of peace in our careworn streets. Plenty has changed since I last posted, and yet much remains the same.. all I can say for now is that I am conscious that I am different in some way.. and it is that subtle difference that I will try to elaborate in my future posts. So until then, take care out there dudes..

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